Saturday, October 1, 2022

California care home sued over resident's poisoning death

SAN MATEO, Calif. (AP) — The family of a woman who died after she was accidentally served dishwashing liquid as drinking juice at a San Francisco Bay Area care home sued the facility on Thursday.

Trudy Maxwell, 93, was served an alkaline liquid “more toxic than Drano," Niall McCarthy, an attorney for the family, said in a statement.

“When you place your loved one in a senior facility, you do not expect it to be one of the most dangerous places in the Bay Area," McCarthy said.

The lawsuit, filed in San Mateo County Superior Court, alleges wrongful death, negligence and elder abuse and neglect.

Maxwell, who had dementia and couldn't feed herself, was one of three residents who were sent to the hospital on Aug. 28 after drinking the liquid at Atria Park Senior Living Facility in San Mateo, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of San Francisco.

The lawsuit alleges that workers waited more than 30 minutes before calling 911 and that the chemical “essentially melted the lining” of her digestive tract. It names the San Mateo facility and its Delaware-based corporate owners.

Another resident, 93-year-old Peter Schroder, also died and his family also has filed a lawsuit alleging negligence and elder abuse.

In a statement Thursday, Atria said a staff member, in violation of its procedures, “filled a pitcher with liquid dishwashing detergent that has a nearly identical consistency and color to cranberry juice, with the intention of dispensing the liquid into a commercial dishwashing machine."

“Another staff member picked it up, mistaking it for juice, and served it to three residents," Atria said.

“Our residents will always be our top priority. We devote significant resources to ensure our staff are thoroughly trained and able to meet our residents’ needs at all times," Atria said, adding that it was working with authorities to review the incident.

Full Article & Source:
California care home sued over resident's poisoning death

See Also:  

Discipline panel recommends 60-day suspension for Circuit Judge Robin Carroll of El Dorado

By Max Brantley 

Suspension recommended.
(South Arkansas Community
College photo.)
The state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission has recommended that Circuit Judge Robin Carroll of El Dorado be suspended without pay for 60 days for multiple instances of ethical misconduct.

He has agreed to the recommended sanction, which is up to the Arkansas Supreme Court, rather than contest it.

The 18-page report from David Sachar, director of the commission, includes a finding of bias in handling cases involving a deputy sheriff that he told the sheriff should be fired. He announced in court he’d dismiss cases involving the deputy.

Another finding concerns Carroll’s attempt to exert improper influence over Game and Fish Commission cases. He tried to get cases dismissed that were filed against people he knew in other courts.

He also was faulted for lack of  “competence and diligence” for unclear docket entries. He also canceled court without proper notice, creating hardships for attorneys and defendants, sometimes brought by sheriffs from other counties.

The complaint lists a number of rule violations, with a particular discussion of his participation in cases from which he should have recused and abuse of office in attempting to influence the Game and Fish cases.

The report concludes Carroll had demonstrated a pattern of poor conduct and didn’t appear to acknowledge it until several months into the investigation. It said Carroll, with advice from his attorney, appears to have improved his conduct, including by recusing from the deputy’s cases.

Carroll was a private attorney for 10 years, a prosecuting attorney for six and \ a judge for nearly 10 years. The discipline agency said, by way of mitigation of penalties, that Carroll had acknowledged errors and that he also had faced health issues and family deaths in the last year. He has given up a criminal docket to avoid cases involving the deputy and taken on more civil cases. He has agreed to remedial measures, the complaint says.

The recommendation was for 90 days suspension, but with 30 days in abeyance if conditions are met. The punishment is worse than a censure but less than removal from office.

The judge is restricted in what he may say about the case, he will be subject to attendance checks and he must attend classes on ethics and court management.

The judge’s circuit covers Calhoun, Cleveland, Columbia, Dallas, Ouachita and Union counties. He was re-elected to a six-year term in 2020.

Full Article & Source:
Discipline panel recommends 60-day suspension for Circuit Judge Robin Carroll of El Dorado

Montague man, Greenfield woman get prison terms for stealing $100,000 from elderly man with dementia

Three- to five-year state prison terms were imposed Thursday in Franklin Superior Court for a Montague man and a Greenfield woman who pleaded guilty to charges they stole more than $100,000 from an elderly man suffering from dementia.

Judge John Agostini imposed the sentences for Jason Hamon, 47, of Turners Falls, and Rebecca Campagna, 39, of Greenfield.

Hamon pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and three counts of larceny from an elder over $250, while Campagna pleaded guilty to conspiracy and two counts of larceny from an elder over $250.

The crimes occurred between 2018 and 2020, during which time the pair Hamon and Campagna drained the 78-year-old victim’s life savings, according to the Northwestern District Attorney’s office.

The two “cashed hundreds of checks using a series of false pretenses, slowly and methodically draining the 78-year-old victim’s life savings. They did so with full knowledge that he was suffering from dementia and lacked the capacity to consent,” the district attorney’s office stated in a press release.

The prison terms were recommend by the judge by assistant Northwestern district attorney Joseph Webber. Webber cited the severity of the crimes, the harm done to the victim and his family, the importance of punishment and deterrence and the criminal records of the two in making the recommendation.

That sentencing recommendation was agree upon by the attorneys for Hamon and Campagna.

“The defendants richly deserved state prison sentences for their repeated exploitation of a vulnerable elder,” said Webber. “Anyone who suspects this sort of abuse might be happening is encouraged to contact their local police department, the District Attorney’s Office, or Elder Protective Services.”

Announcement of the guilty pleas and sentencing came with an advisory from the district attorney’s office that reports of elder abuse can be filed 24 hours a day either online at or by telephoning 800-922-2275. Elder abuse includes physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, caretaker neglect, financial exploitation and self-neglect in cases involving persons over the age of 60.

Full Article & Source:
Montague man, Greenfield woman get prison terms for stealing $100,000 from elderly man with dementia

Friday, September 30, 2022

Anne Heche's Son Homer Claims Actress's Signature on Will Presented by Ex James Tupper Is Invalid

Anne Heche's older son, Homer Laffoon, has been entangled in a legal back-and-forth with her ex James Tupper over who should control the actress's estate

By Dory Jackson

Anne Heche's will — or lack thereof — continues to cause tension between the loved ones she left behind.

Per court documents obtained by PEOPLE, Heche's older son Homer Laffoon (whom she shared with ex-husband Coleman Laffoon) has filed a nine-page supplement to his previous petition to assume control over his mother's estate.

The 20-year-old claims that his mother's ex James Tupper, 57, has been interfering with Homer's attempts to communicate with his 13-year-old old half-brother Atlas Heche Tupper since Heche's death in August.

Homer also claims in the filing that a 2011 document Tupper considers a will — and which he asserts named him administrator of Heche's estate — is not valid because the signature on the document does not belong to Heche and was not observed by two witnesses as required by law.

Legal representative for both Homer and Tupper did not immediately return PEOPLE's request for comment. 

Photo: JC Olivera/Getty; Anne Heche/Instagram

Per Tuesday's filing: "Mr. Tupper repeatedly refers to the email attached to the Objection as a 'will.' However — as a matter of law — the email does not qualify as either a holographic will or formal witnessed will," the document reads. "The email fails to satisfy the legal requirements for a valid holographic will because the material provisions of the purported will are not in the handwriting of the Decedent. A will is valid as a holographic will, whether or not it is witnessed, if the signature and the material provisions are in the handwriting of the testator."

The filing continues, "The email presented to the Court as Decedent's 'will' by Mr. Tupper fails to meet the requirements for a valid holographic will because the signature and material provisions are not in the handwriting of the Decedent. The email fails to satisfy the legal requirements for a valid formal witnessed will because the email was not signed by the Decedent and does not have two witnesses who signed the document during the lifetime of the Decedent."

The document also points out that without a proper will, "there can be no nomination of an executor" or an executor selected, in general. This role is important as the executor "is appointed to administer an estate pursuant to a valid will," according to the legal papers. 

Photo: Rachel Murray/Getty

Homer also called several of Tupper's own previously filed objections to the 20-year-old's "suitability" to administer his mother's estate — including claims Homer was "'estranged' from his mother at the time of her death" — "inaccurate and unfounded."  

Anne Heche. Photo Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Heche was involved in a fiery car accident on Aug. 5 and then was transported to a Los Angeles-area hospital. The actress sustained several injuries from the incident, and PEOPLE confirmed two days later that she was in a coma and had "not regained consciousness" since the crash.

The state of California declared Heche legally dead on Aug. 12, but she temporarily remained on life support to allow for her organs to be removed and donated. On Aug. 14, her rep confirmed to PEOPLE she had been taken off of life support.

She is buried at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Full Article & Source:
Anne Heche's Son Homer Claims Actress's Signature on Will Presented by Ex James Tupper Is Invalid

See Also:  

Anne Heche's Estate Battle Boils Over With New Accusations


Alzheimer’s Progression Slowed by Drug in Major Trial

  • Biogen shares soar as much as 43% in New York; Eisai gains 17%
  • Lilly, Roche also rise; they have similar drugs in development

Full Article & Source:
Alzheimer’s Progression Slowed by Drug in Major Trial

Local civil rights activist arrested for elder neglect; Body cam footage released

by: Katelyn Ogle

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A well-known activist has been released from the jail he often speaks out against. He now faces charges including elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Michael Washington was booked into the Oklahoma County Detention Center on Monday and is now out of jail.

Wednesday, body cam footage and court documents revealed what police found at 94-year-old Katherine Burkhalter’s OKC home in July.

Police: These living conditions are deplorable

Washington: In my house?

Police: We are taking her

Washington: You ain’t taking taking a g****** thing.

Police: She’s leaving this facility

Washington: I want to see your chief, supervisor, and all that.

Washington told News 4 he’s cared for Katherine for 10 years while living with her for free.

According to court documents, Police said nurses called them when Washington wouldn’t let them inside to care for Katherine. The woman’s son was also there.

“I am the one who called the police. I was belligerent when I saw his face. I said, ‘Boy, you’re not getting in this doggone house. It’s been 11 years since you’ve seen your mother,’” said Washington.

Washington told News 4 he told hospice nurses to call the police and that’s how they could get inside.

“We need to get in there and give her some fluids,” said a police officer on the body camera footage.

Court documents showed Katherine’s “vital signs were dangerously low.” “Katherine was less than 70 pounds and was described as malnourished.” 

“When they pulled her out, it was 105 degrees in the house with a working air conditioner,” said Byron Burkhalter, Katherine’s son. “The last time we could tell that she had been changed was three days before. She was in her own fluids.”

 “[Hospice comes] in three, four times a day. And at that time for her to come in it was [the nurse’s] time to change,” said Washington.

Court documents said Washington would leave Katherine when she needed constant care.

Police: Without you being here, there has to be someone 24/7.
Washington: She already…

Police: It doesn’t matter. That’s neglect.

Police: I’m going to have an ambulance come and transport her to the hospital. If you want to come meet us at the hospital. Once the doctors decide what’s going on with her condition, then we’ll go from there.

Washington: Now we’re talkin’.

Off camera, Katherine’s son said his mother gained 17 pounds since she left the home.

“Haha! That is a joke! Haha! ‘They’re saying’ Where’s their proof at?” said Washington. “If she did, maybe they have some substances that they can give her.”

“These nurses, coming in here daily, two or three times a day for six months, didn’t feel that at that time she needed to leave. Somebody wasn’t doing their job then. It seems like, to me, they should be in jail,” said Washington.

Washington said he plans to file a lawsuit against the city, officers, and Katherine’s son.

Full Article & Source:
Local civil rights activist arrested for elder neglect; Body cam footage released

Thursday, September 29, 2022

California’s CARE Court: A Step in the Right Direction or ‘Terrifying’ Step Backwards?

by Brandon Pho

An aerial view of the homeless encampment outside El Centro Cultural de Mexico on April 30. Credit: JOSE HERNANDEZ, Voice of OC

Fed up with tent cities, officials up and down California have ironed a new approach to the publicly-visible homelessness crisis on their hands:

Putting homeless people in front of judges and potentially into treatment programs.

The newly-approved and highly controversial system is known as CARE Court, and it isn’t exclusive to homeless people or intended for all of them. 

Rather, the new law’s authors say it’s for those with mental health and substance abuse issues, who under the current system only get help after they deteriorate or commit crimes, or end up back on the street with no help at all.

The idea’s to court-order such people into a treatment plan for up to two years, with County of Orange officials joining six other counties in committing to an early rollout of the system over the next calendar year.

“The start of this would be October of 2023,”  said Dr. Veronica Kelley of the county Health Care Agency. “We have a little bit over a year to stand this up.”

But around this new system are two directly opposing views of how voluntary it really is – and where it stands in California’s long and notorious history of institutionalization.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, state lawmakers and big city mayors have pushed CARE Court as non-coercive and individualized – and as the next step in the state’s move away from institutionalization.

Civil rights groups, on the other hand, say CARE Court is institutionalization’s next chapter, coercive by its very structure, while self-determination — voluntary but supportive treatment — is the best route through which people recover. 

The debate played out in California’s deinstitutionalization movement of the 1960s, and in the conservatorship and 72-hour psychiatric hold processes it simultaneously brought about.

The CARE Court legislation invokes the ‘self-determination’ concept twice in its text and in accompanying public policy documents. 

Yet the very concept’s loudest advocates have come out swinging against it.

While painted in voluntary terms, critics say CARE Court guarantees no housing in the unaffordable state.

In the long run, they say the plan empowers courts to warehouse people in shelters or place them in conservatorships, the case where a judge appoints someone (the ‘conservator’) to care for another adult deemed to have no self-decisionmaking ability.

“These big city public officials can make what they’ve been trying to do happen at the expense of poor people really easily,” said Lili Graham, a Disability Rights California attorney and one of CARE Court’s chief critics. 

“And you can put someone anywhere, regardless of whether it’s the right place for them or not.” 

Orange County has stepped to the forefront of the new system in a number of ways.

Local officials and politicians are embracing it. 

“They have civil rights, but what about the rest of us? Those of us that have to watch them dying on the streets and tents?” said John Moorlach, a Republican former state senator and county supervisor – and now a Costa Mesa mayoral candidate – in a phone interview.

The county’s home to one of the CARE Court bill’s co-authors, Sen. Tom Umberg (D-Santa Ana), and other proponents who insist CARE Court is voluntary. 

It’s a “civil commitment court – it’s a voluntary court,” said Dr. Veronica Kelley, Chief of Mental Health and Recovery Services at the OC Health Care Agency, during a phone interview. 

But if you ask Brooke Weitzmann, a high-profile attorney for homeless and disabled people: 

“Voluntary does not require the judicial branch.”

And other proponents concede that CARE Court’s not elective, nor does it guarantee housing. 

Some say they’re simply tired of listening to civil rights groups.

“It’s exhausting. I’m just — I’m exhausted,” Newsom said in response to a reporter’s questions about the opposition at a news conference earlier this month. “I think their point of view has been well-advanced for a half-century in the State of California. Their point of view is expressed by what you see on the streets and sidewalks.”

“We’re not gonna hear the same excuses of why we can’t do something,” Newsom said. 

How Will This Work? 

The true nuts and bolts of this new system come down to how Orange County and the six others handle its rollout over the next year.

Here’s how proponents say CARE Court would work: 

Anyone from a roommate or family member to a local health agency or even a police officer could petition to put someone through the proceedings. 

Once that petition’s filed, the court will review it and order a written report to determine if the person meets, or may meet, the criteria for CARE Court. If one voluntarily agrees to receive services, or if there is insufficient evidence that they meet the criteria, the case is dismissed. 

If someone’s likely to meet the criteria, the court will set an initial appearance on the petition within 14 days and appoint the person’s legal counsel, according to the law’s framework documents. 

A case management hearing will then determine if the parties have entered into a CARE agreement. If so, the court will approve or modify the terms of the agreement and set a progress hearing for 60 days. 

If an agreement isn’t reached, the court would order a clinical evaluation of the respondent. 

During the clinical evaluation hearing, the county will present its findings and the person put through the proceedings will have an opportunity to respond. 

If the court finds that the respondent meets the criteria, the court will order a jointly-submitted CARE plan within two weeks. 

Once the court approves the CARE plan, the timeline goes up to one year. The court will have status review hearings every 60 days to hear treatment progress, which services were provided, which weren’t, and any issues. At the end of the first year the patient has the option of another.

Medication can be court-ordered, but not forcibly administered. 

Failure to complete treatment could still land the person in state hospitalization or conservatorship, though proponent lawmakers say this process is meant to be checkpoint where people on that path can be diverted.

“We have fought really hard to ensure that that CARE court was not a direct line to conservatorship,” said Kelley of the OC Health Care Agency.

CARE Court Rings Alarms for Civil Rights Groups

The bill’s loudest opponents are scores of civil rights organizations, more than 40 of them, from Disability Rights California to the American Civil Liberties Union to Human Rights Watch. 

Throughout this year they’ve argued that CARE Court is compulsory by the very fact it puts people through the judicial system, where they can’t exactly refuse to comply with a judge or the CARE Court process if found to be eligible — lest they end up in a conservatorship.

In fact, civil rights advocates argue local governments and judges get more choices under the new law than the patients compelled into court themselves. A judge doesn’t have to order every component of the system the bill provides for.

The court can also decide where the person lives with conservatorship as a prospect. 

The CARE Court provisions also prioritize patients for “any appropriate bridge housing” where there’s funding – meaning they’re prioritized for spots in shelter, not housing. 

What’s “really terrifying” about CARE court, Graham said, is that “you’re just stripping away a really basic fundamental right.”

Weitzmann, meanwhile, has this question: “Why would we want to redirect money that could be going toward the actual resources and toward the people’s needs, into the administration of a court system?”

“We already have a great voluntary system,” Weitzmann said. “It’s called the Health Care Agency. And if they had enough employees, to help people come up with voluntary plans and execute them, if they had enough internal staff, and enough contractors, we could be meeting the needs.”

In a written emailed statement responding to questions on Sept. 19, Umberg said “Housing is a vital component to the CARE Court process – but finding stability and staying up to date with treatment is virtually impossible for the unhoused. One of the upsides to this new process is that the court will be able to issue orders that are specific to the needs of each individual (i.e. bridge housing, a licensed adult care facility, supportive housing, etc.).” 

Some Like the New Approach

Arguing for CARE Court had local officials at times drawing from their own deeply personal stories of tragedy and loss. 

“I’m a social worker,” Kelley said. “But before being a social worker, I was a conservator of a family member who ended up on the streets, who was not amenable to treatment and had no services offered to her from another county, and she actually perished on the streets. I’m raising her son as my own.”

It’s been 16 years since Umberg’s family stopped looking for a relative, as a plan like CARE Court in his family’s case came “too late,” he said at Newsom’s bill-signing news conference earlier this month.

Moorlach said those stories are affecting families all over OC. 

“I have a very close friend who told me that he was driving down Tustin Avenue. And he said, ‘I pulled over and saw my daughter for the first time in two years,’” Moorlach said in a phone interview.

Orange County in many ways has poised itself for a system like CARE Court, long before it came about. 

Moorlach was the co-author of what could be considered CARE Court’s precursor, Laura’s Law, which provides assisted outpatient treatment to a small population of individuals who meet strict legal criteria and who can’t voluntarily access community mental health service. 

Yet the opposition remains, and murmurs of lawsuits by civil rights groups over the new system are now filling the air.

“This goes against every core principle of why we exist,” Graham said.

Full Article & Source:
California’s CARE Court: A Step in the Right Direction or ‘Terrifying’ Step Backwards?

Macomb Co. woman charged with stealing from vulnerable adult

by Mark Hicks

A Macomb County woman accused of stealing more than $100,000 from a vulnerable adult in her care faces prison time, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Tuesday.

Lisa Ludy, 52, of Macomb was arraigned Sept. 20 through 41A District Court in Shelby Township on:• One count of conducting a criminal enterprise, a 20-year felony;• Two counts of embezzlement between $1,000 and $20,000, five-year felonies;• One count of embezzlement between $20,000 and $50,0000, a 10-year felony;• One count of embezzlement $50,000-$100,000, a 15-year felony;• Four counts of failure to file a tax return, five-year felonies.

In 2016, Ludy petitioned to have her company, Community Guardian Care Inc., appointed as a guardian and conservator for the victim, Nessel's office said in a statement.

From 2016-19, she allegedly "stole the victim’s retirement, Social Security income, inheritance, and the proceeds from the sale of victim’s home after putting it on the market," according to the release. "Ludy also used the victim’s bank accounts to pay personal bills and funnel money to her family’s companies, Career Health Studies, Career Health Training Corporation and Applewood Adult Foster Care Home."

Full Article & Source:
Macomb Co. woman charged with stealing from vulnerable adult

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Macomb Township woman accused of stealing over $100,000 from vulnerable adult

Suspect’s company became victim’s guardian, conservator

By Jameson Cook

A Macomb Township woman is accused of stealing over $100,000 from a vulnerable adult after her company became the guardian and conservator for the person.

Lisa Ludy, 52, who operated Community Guardian Care Inc., was charged Monday in 41A District Court in Shelby Township with one count of racketeering and four total embezzlement counts: one count between $50,000 and $100,000, one count between $20,000 and $50,000 and two counts between $1,000 and $20,000 for her alleged actions from 2016 to 2019, according to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. She is also charged with four counts of failure to file tax returns.

Nessel said Ludy in 2016 gained approval in Macomb County Probate Court to have Community Guardian Care appointed as a guardian and conservator for the victim. Over four years, Ludy stole the victim’s retirement, Social Security income, inheritance and the proceeds from the sale of victim’s home after putting it on the market. Ludy used the victim’s bank accounts to pay personal bills and funnel money to her family’s companies: Career Health Studies, Career Health Training Corporation and Applewood Adult Foster Care Home, Nessel said. Ludy concealed the money she took from the victim and failed to file income taxes from 2016 through 2019, she added.

“Taking advantage of those in their time of greatest need is deplorable,” Nessel said in a news release. “I am committed to protecting our most vulnerable and will prosecute those who exploit them to the fullest extent of the law.”

Ludy in 2020 received a $20,800 Paycheck Protection Program loan through the federal Small Business Administration as a sole proprietorship business, according to the SBA. The loan’s status currently is “ongoing,” the SBA website says.

She has been released after posting a $20,000 bond.

A probable cause conference is scheduled for Oct. 4 and a preliminary exam is scheduled for Oct. 11 in front of Judge Douglas Shepherd in 41A District Court.

Full Article & Source:
Macomb Township woman accused of stealing over $100,000 from vulnerable adult

36th District judge 'unfit,' should be removed from bench, state commission says

by Kara Berg

Detroit ― A Detroit judge is "unfit" for the bench and should be removed from the position, according to a report from the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission.

The commission determined each of 36th District Court Judge Kahlilia Davis's multiple acts of misconduct are "egregious in their own right," according to the organization's decision and recommendation for discipline that was released Friday night. Davis was accused of failing to record court proceedings, refusing to abide by a performance plan the court set up for her and blanketly dismissing cases from a specific process server because she did not trust him.

Judge Kahlilia Yvette Davis
Judge Kahlilia Davis -

"When Respondent was not prejudicing the actual administration of justice or missing work or incorrectly applying the law or disrespecting her colleagues and administrators or conducting unrecorded proceedings, Respondent tried using her status as a judge while out in the public for improper personal gain," the JTC wrote in its report.

The commission called her "incorrigible and incapable of conforming her behavior to the standards required of a judge."

Davis was suspended by the Michigan Supreme Court in June 2020 and has not been on the bench since. She is not running for reelection because the Michigan Secretary of State determined she lied on her affidavit of identity and therefore was not eligible. Davis is a judge through January 2023.

Davis' attorney, Michael Alan Schwartz, did not respond Monday to a request for comment. In previous court filings, Schwartz has said the JTC made "some unfortunate observations that are not appropriate." He did not like that the commission made its own decisions on matters after members didn't find the fact-finder's conclusions to be sufficient.

Schwartz said Davis made some mistakes, but that the fact-finder, Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Cynthia Stephens, showed in her August report that the JTC didn't prove misconduct.

The case will now go to the Michigan Supreme Court for a disciplinary decision. The JTC recommends the Supreme Court remove Davis and suspend her without pay for six years. The suspension would only become effective if she ends up on the bench again during that period.

JTC: Davis lied during probe

The commission, a state watchdog agency that investigates judicial misconduct, noted its unhappiness with the fact-finder's decisions, which "absolved her of every instance of the most serious misconduct." The fact-finder ignored important evidence and resolved every credibility determination in Davis' favor, it wrote.

In its report to the Supreme Court recommending discipline, the commission noted its disagreements. The JTC also said Davis knowingly made at least 13 statements that she knew to be false, according to the JTC's response to Stephens' report.

Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Cynthia Stephens' fact-finding report on 36th District Court Judge Kahlilia Davis was criticized by the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission.
Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Cynthia Stephens' fact-finding report on 36th District Court Judge Kahlilia Davis was critized by the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission.  David Guralnick, The Detroit News

"Dishonesty in these circumstances erodes the public’s confidence in the judiciary," the commission wrote in its report to the Supreme Court. "(Davis') misconduct has been the subject of repeated media coverage in Wayne County, which casts not only (Davis), but the judiciary as a whole, in a negative light."

The JTC determined there was evidence that Davis had:

  • Incorrectly and "incompetently" applied contempt law and ordered thousands of dollars to be unjustly paid.
  • Believed a process server to be untrustworthy, so she dismissed or adjourned every case that server brought to her, without considering the merits of the case, even after the chief judge ordered her to stop. The JTC said more than 22 cases were proven to have been affected by the judge's conduct.
  • Routinely showed up late, missed days of work and performed the job poorly, according to the report. The State Court Administrative Office stepped in to make a performance plan for her, in which Davis refused to participate. Instead, she attacked the people assigned to help her "with discourteous and unprofessional written threats and barbs, including biblical quotes insinuating that her colleagues and the administrators should or would go to Hell."
  • Disabled the video equipment in her courtroom because she didn't want colleagues or court administrators watching her. She did not have a court reporter, however, so she conducted most of her court proceedings with no record. Davis recorded some proceedings with her personal phone and published one of the hearings on Facebook Live. The JTC determined she repeatedly lied under oath about this.
  • Parked in the handicap loading zone, blocking the side door of a disabled person's car, at her gym while displaying a Detroit police "official business" placard. She showed her judge's badge to the Detroit police officer who responded after the person whose car was blocked called police.

 Schwartz said a lot of the issues JTC brought up were only because Davis was treated unfairly by the 36th District Court after she was elected. He said she was the only judge not allowed to have a court reporter and she did not receive training on the video equipment, which was not mandatory to use.

Schwartz said it is possible the 36 District Court chief judge was trying to sabotage Davis, and that Davis' health issues complicated her role. The fact-finder found that most of her absences from work were due to medical reasons.

"With the health problems that Respondent suffered, she did her best to work to the fullest of her ability," Schwartz wrote.

Davis suspended multiple times

Davis was elected in November 2016 and began her term in January 2017. She was initially assigned to the landlord-tenant docket and remained there until October 2017. At this point, then-Chief Judge Nancy Blount removed her from presiding over any cases and set up her performance improvement plan.

Blount's plan required Davis to attend work daily. Later, Blount requested she report her arrival and departure times.

Davis refused to do so, however, and said the actions were "unfair and unnecessary," according to the JTC report. She began sending Blount, the regional court administrator and the 36th District Court administrator emails containing biblical passages that they found "threatening and baffling." Davis routinely told them to "find someone else to harass."

The judge sent 12 such emails, even after a meeting with the regional court administrator and her attorney, according to the JTC report. Immediately after the meeting, Davis sent another email that began with "You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good?"

During this time, Davis was an auxiliary judge, which essentially functioned as a substitute judge, Davis testified during the JTC investigation.

Blount assigned her to the business license docket in January 2019. Davis requested a court reporter, but the 36th District Court administration did not send a court reporter because she had video recording equipment, according to JTC records.

Davis was again suspended in March 2019 for failing to record the business license hearings. In January 2020, she was assigned to the traffic misdemeanor docket.

The JTC filed its formal complaint against Davis on March 16, 2020. She was consequently suspended again in June 2020 by the Michigan Supreme Court.

Two months later, she filed a federal lawsuit against the 36th Circuit Court alleging she was discriminated against and harassed. A judge dismissed the lawsuit in June 2021.

Full Article & Source:
36th District judge 'unfit,' should be removed from bench, state commission says

Grady files $670K lien in name of woman violently attacked, killed in hospital parking garage

By Justin Gray

ATLANTA — After his mother died in a violent attack, a metro Atlanta man was surprised to find a lien by Grady hospital filed in her name for more than $670,000 in hospital bills for her treatment. He learned the hospital never submitted the bill to Medicare or supplemental insurance.

Channel 2 Investigates found that Grady does this frequently, particularly if the hospital stay was related to an auto accident.

We checked clerk records and found Grady has filed more than 13,000 of these hospital liens the past 5 years in Fulton County, whether the patient has insurance or not.

“Who decides to do something like this? it’s just unethical. That’s what Medicare is for. That’s what she paid every month for,” the woman’s son Charles Kimsey said.

78-year-old Jacqueline Mixon spent 10 days at Grady before dying last spring from injuries sustained in a violent attack at the Piedmont hospital parking garage.

As Channel 2 Action news reported before, Mixon was allegedly tackled from behind by 68-year-old Gloria Franklin, then run over by an SUV.

Kimsey says Grady never billed his mother, Medicare or her supplemental insurance before filing the lien.

“I have not gotten one bill for Grady, not one” Kimsey said.

Personal injury attorney Susan Witt says hospitals file the liens, looking for a piece of potential settlements.

“It’s a predatory practice that we see over and over again, and consumers are unaware of what their rights are,” Witt said.

Witt says hospitals file liens for their full retail price. That’s significantly higher than what they charge insurance companies or Medicare through negotiated pricing.

“They would prefer not to deal with your insurance company because they are going get paid less than if they charge you the retail rate and scare and intimidate you that it’s the rate you have to pay,” Witt said.

Grady tells us in a statement quote:

“We never place liens on property or an estate. Hospitals routinely place liens on insurance claims and settlements. For services related to an accident or injury, the no-fault or liability insurance pays first and Medicare pays second, consistent with state and federal law.”

It just adds insult to injury, and I don’t know what to do. this is unbelievable, its crushing me,” Kimsey said.

Hospitals can not go after your personal property like a house or car with a hospital lien like with a traditional lien.

Susan Witt tells clients that if the hospital won’t submit the claim to insurance or Medicare, you should do it yourself.

“The hospitals don’t like it. They don’t want you to know you can do that on your own but that is what you have the right and ability to do,” Witt said.

Full Article & Source:
Grady files $670K lien in name of woman violently attacked, killed in hospital parking garage

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Ten MN service providers to share $2.9M to support people with disabilities

Minnesota Department of Human Services (MN DHS)(Minnesota Department of Human Services)

By Miranda Johnson 

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – A new round of state grants will go forward over the next two years across Minnesota to support people with disabilities.

According to Minnesota Department of Human Services, ten service providers will share approximately $2.9 million to support people with disabilities to live and engage with others in their communities and access better employment opportunities.

The grants are part of the Minnesota Department of Human Services’ innovation grant program for people with disabilities.

“These providers are finding new ways to support full and connected lives for Minnesotans with disabilities,” Commissioner Jodi Harpstead said. “The grants recognize efforts to strengthen the direct care workforce and improve access to culturally and linguistically responsive services.”

Grantees are listed below:

  • Korean Service Center - Seniors Better Connected, serving Duluth, St. Cloud, Mankato and Rochester, $202,000. Increasing the use of Korean language mobile video conference apps, and providing live support will help address social isolation due to language barriers among Korean older adults. The Korean Service Center also works to reduce barriers and increase access to community resources, including mental health resources.
  • Touchstone Mental Health - Housing Innovations program, serving Hennepin County, $257,000. People living with a mental illness who have experienced homelessness will receive help securing integrated housing of their choice. During the grant period, on-site services will offer help navigating the process for accessing integrated community supports.
  • Autism Society of Minnesota - Somali Autism Partnership, serving the Twin Cities, Rochester and St. Cloud, $386,000. The Autism Society of Minnesota and the Somali Parents Autism Network will work together to reach Somali parents of children and young adults who have autism, offering culturally sensitive education and advocacy.
  • Residential Services of Northeastern MN, Inc. - Employee Resource Project, serving St. Louis, Carlton, Pine, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Isanti and Chisago counties, $207,000. A new employee resource program will connect direct care employees with resources to address their needs. An employee resource specialist will develop and implement the program. The goal is to decrease turnover and improve employee satisfaction by helping employees address areas of instability in their lives that may interfere with work.
  • Minnesota First Community Solutions - Workforce Solutions, statewide, $358,000. Direct support workers will receive more training and other resources to improve their job satisfaction, with a focus on Hmong, Native American and Somali workers. Activities will include peer mentoring, culturally specific training, tools that let the people receiving services exercise oversight of their services, and a direct service worker retention program.
  • ARRM – Technology Training, statewide, $305,000. A coordinated training program will help people with disabilities and their families use supportive and assistive technology to support their health care, social and employment goals. Training will be available for the people using the services, their families, vendors, case managers and providers.
  • Dakota County – Wheelchair Accessible Van (WAV) Driver Recruitment, serving Dakota County and the Twin Cities metro area, $134,000. The project will offer incentives for Twin Cities wheelchair-accessible van drivers to drive for Lyft, providing rides and offering an equitable on-demand transport option for people using mobility devices.
  • Autism Society of Minnesota – Towards Inclusion, serving the Twin Cities, $214,000. The Autism Society of Minnesota and the Multicultural Autism Action Network will work together to continue providing culturally appropriate support, empowerment and training to families of children with disabilities through peer-to-peer networks. They will also continue working with providers on the unique challenges serving individuals with disabilities and their families in multicultural communities, while working with autistic adults act as their own advocates to address views of disability in multicultural communities.
  • Rise Inc. – Supported Decision-Making, statewide, $207,000. The Deaf-Centered Supported Decision-Making and Self-Advocacy Program will help participants move toward competitive, integrated employment. Participants and their guardians will work with planning specialists in an experiential, person-centered process to develop employment goals, identify obstacles and create plans.
  • The Arc Minnesota – Individualized Grant Program, statewide, $600,000. Individualized grants will offer $100 to $2,000 for people with disabilities across Minnesota to move toward personal employment and inclusive housing goals. The Arc will expand outreach and engagement of diverse populations, with a focus on individuals whose intersecting identities create additional barriers to employment and inclusive housing of their own.

The Department of Human Services distributes innovation grants in three groupings. The current grants are part of the large grant program, which awards grants of up to $500,000. The small grant program awards $5,000 to $50,000 a year to people and organizations working with Minnesotans with disabilities. The micro-grant program, administered by The Arc Minnesota, offers direct individualized grants to help people with disabilities achieve personal goals in employment, housing and community integration.

More information about innovation grants can be found here.

Full Article & Source:
Ten MN service providers to share $2.9M to support people with disabilities

Lawyers’ fake rehab, fake checks, missing real money — from Miami Beach to Palm Beach

By David J. Neal

Crime, misappropriating funds to a friend’s business and having a drink got attorneys from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties onto the Florida Bar’s monthly list of state Supreme Court discipline. 

Most of these attorneys have appeared in the Miami Herald previously for their violations of law or ethics. 

In alphabetical order: 

Mary Hudson, Palm Beach Gardens 

The Florida Bar says Mary Hudson (admitted to the Florida Bar in 2011) has been ghosting it since 2019.

Hudson didn’t answer any of the three letters and three emails over three dates regarding a 2019 Bar complaint filed against her. She let her firm, Maverick Law, be administratively dissolved in September 2019 by not filing the annual report with the state. When a Bar investigator went to Maverick Law’s PGA Boulevard address, the investigator was told Hudson hadn’t been there in four years. 

Hudson was suspended in February. As the Bar received no notification that she informed clients, opposing counsel, tribunals, all bar associations of her suspension, that counts as contempt and Hudson received another 91-day suspension.

Julio Martinez, Miami Beach 

In July 2021, Julio Martinez (admitted 2010) stated in a consent judgment that he has a substance-related disorder and would enter a two-year rehabilitation contract with Florida Lawyers Assistance, which helps attorneys who have substance abuse or mental health problems. 

The contract, which Martinez began Dec. 14, required abstinence regarding alcohol as part of staying away from “all mood-altering substances, including prescribed medications ... and any beverage, food, or non prescribed medication containing alcohol … including without limitation “non-alcoholic” beer, wine, cold medicines, and allergy medications.” 

That’s the Florida Bar’s contempt petition, filed after, the Bar said, Florida Lawyers Assistance said Martinez tested positive on April 19.

In his response to the Bar’s petition, Martinez admitted to having a “minor amount of alcohol on a dinner date just prior to the screening.” The response also pointed out Martinez had tested cleanly 10 times, seven times before the failed test and three times after. 

The Bar wanted a 91-day suspension. Martinez, in his response filed by attorney Kevin Tynan, asked for the appointment of a referee to hear this contempt case. 

The state Supreme Court didn’t appoint a referee, but didn’t give Martinez a 91-day suspension, either. His 30-day suspension starts Sept. 16.

Stefan McHardy, Pembroke Pines 

Stefan McHardy (admitted in 2011), a former real estate attorney, was disbarred last year for ignoring his suspension by holding himself out as a lawyer and dispensing legal advice while suspended.

Even after the disbarment, at, McHardy billed himself as “Stefan McHardy, Esq.” That appears to be gone now, but at that site and on various social media platforms, McHardy still calls himself “Listing Lawyer.” The Florida Bar says he still gives legal advice. McHardy’s site says he “brings eight years of experience as both a real estate agent and a real estate attorney.”

According to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s online records, McHardy is a real estate agent whose license expires Sept. 30. According to the state Supreme Court, McHardy’s not just disbarred, he’s permanently disbarred. 

Arthur Morburger, Miami Beach 

Big Tobacco attorney Arthur Morburger (admitted in 1973) has been under emergency suspension since June 2021.

After a case involving Morburger’s client, Philip Morris, and the estate of a dead smoker represented by Coral Gables attorney Carl Palomino, Palomino was supposed to receive $19,000 in fees from Morburger. A Florida Bar investigation found that $19,000 was rerouted by Morburger via a series of checks to Gisselle Manzzo’s GM Investment Property & Solutions.

Morburger claimed in a letter to the Bar that he had “no knowledge” of GM Investment, which state site says Manzzo registered with the state Jan. 8, 2019 — two months before Morburger handled an appeals case for Manzzo. The Bar investigator said Manzzo refused to talk to him per Morburger’s request. (Manzzo also declined to comment to the Miami Herald).

The report by the referee, 11th Circuit Criminal Judge Michelle Delancy, said through the final hearing Morburger stayed with his claim that he knew nothing about GM Investments connection to Manzzo “until much later” and he was an “innocent victim” in all this. 

“He stated that he did not apologize to Mr. Palomino because he did not think he had done anything wrong,” Delancy wrote. “[Morburger] has therefore failed and refused to take any responsibility for his failure to reasonably protect the funds entrusted to him — before and/or after he was informed that the (trust) account was compromised.” 

Also, Delancy wrote, Morburger’s “innocent victim” claim gets undercut by the evidence and his “numerous misrepresentations” during the Bar’s investigation and the final hearing before the referee.

“In clearly incredulous testimony, [Morburger] asserted he made two single attempts to look up GM Investments on Sunbiz, but that the website was not operating properly on either occasion,” Delancy wrote. 

Florida attorneys are familiar with, the state site listing all corporations registered to do business Florida, which is why Delancy wrote Morburger’s claim “defies common sense.” 

That also ran against Manzzo’s deposition testimony about her relationship with Morburger. She helped at his law practice, she said, which he used to run out of her home. He celebrated holidays with her and her family. In her deposition, she said she spoke with Morburger about becoming in-house counsel for GM Investment (which Sunbiz says was dissolved in September 2021). That’s why the checks went to her business account, Manzzo said. They were going to set up a shared office space.

Also, Delancy noted, the check that settled up a Bar delinquency of Morburger’s came from Manzzo with “GM Investment” written across the top of the check. 

Though Morburger’s paid the $19,000 he owed Palmonino, Delancy said Morburger did so only after being held in contempt of court and weeks before the final hearing. Morberger’s lies and fact that the misappropriated funds went to “his dear friend Manzzo” tagged him as complicit in the financial shenanigans. 

“Accordingly, it is clear that Respondent is guilty of failing to safeguard trust funds, of making misrepresentations or engaging in fraudulent, deceitful or dishonest behavior, and of failing to hold and use trust funds only for the purpose for which they were entrusted,” Delancy wrote.

She recommended disbarment. The state Supreme Court agreed. The 85-year-old was disbarred on Aug. 25. 

Erika Muller, Fort Lauderdale 

The referee’s report says Erika Muller (admitted in 2008) didn’t participate in the disciplinary process to save the career she’d built. Then again, the report describes Muller taking a flamethrower to that career by lying to opposing counsel and her own clients, and presenting photocopies of checks as actual checks, then admitting to everything in an affidavit to her law firm. 

That’s the firm of Cole, Scott & Kissane, where Muller was a partner and handling client Rooms To Go, which was the defendant in a lawsuit. Rooms To Go and Broadspire, an adjuster for Rooms To Go’s insurer, talked mainly to Muller.

Muller showed up to a Nov. 5, 2020, hearing with an independent adjuster supposedly for Rooms To Go and claiming she had authority to settle (she didn’t). That didn’t prevent her from entering into a $325,000 settlement in December. The plaintiff signed the release in January, an unauthorized release because Muller didn’t have settling authority. That also means she couldn’t come across with the money. 

So, on March 4, 2021, the referee’s report said, she “sent plaintiff’s counsel a photocopy of what purported to be a settlement check from Broadspire for $375,000.00. The check was fabricated by [Muller].” 

The peeved plaintiff filed several motions concerning orders to enforce the judgment, which ended in a final judgment of $425,000 on March 22, 2021. After the plaintiff’s attorney moved for two writs of garnishment and issued post judgment discovery, Muller promised to wire the $425,000 to the other side. When that didn’t happen, the referee’s report said, she agreed on April 2 to pay $550,000 to stop execution and garnishment proceedings.

Muller pulled the same altered photocopy check move she had earlier. Meanwhile, she was telling Rooms to Go that the case was being set for mediation and even showed a fake notice of mediation.

Both Muller and the plaintiff’s attorney’s informed Muller’s firm of her conduct. The referee’s report says Muller’s affidavit claimed she was going through a mental health crisis at the time. 

She’s been disbarred. 

Marc Reiner, West Palm Beach 

Lawyers have continuing legal education (CLE) requirements. They have to sit through classes, either in person or online (screen popups keep them from leaving the screen). 

After Reiner (admitted in 2008) was declared delinquent in keeping up with his CLE in January 2018, he continued to practice law. But, in June 2018 when he petitioned for CLE requirement removal, he “certified that he had not engaged in the practice of law during his delinquency.” 

A referee found the Bar didn’t prove the main client complaints in two other grievances, but did find Reiner wasn’t particularly attentive to Florida Bar requests. 

The Bar wanted a six-month suspension, FLA evaluation and reimbursement of $3,042. Reiner’s attorney, Kevin Tynan, argued for a 30-day suspension, completing the Bar’s ethics school, three more hours of CLE and paying the Bar’s costs. 

The state Supreme Court went with the referee’s suggestion of a 90-day suspension, six hours of a continuing legal education course on professionalism and pony up $3,023. Reiner’s suspension starts Sept. 24. 

Richard Waserstein, Bay Harbor Islands 

Richard Waserstein (admitted in 1986) traded Florida Bar No. 604380 and an office on Kane Concourse in Bay Harbor Islands for inmate No. 10596-509 and a place in the Federal Correctional Institution in Otisville, New York. 

Waserstein, 60, used to own Second Chance Detox, which did business as Compass Detox, and WAR Network. Compass provided inpatient, residential detox services while WAR provided outpatient services and partial hospitalization. That was the front, anyway. 

Waserstein’s guilty plea to conspiracy to commit money laundering admits patient brokers offered “patients” bribes and kickbacks to go to treatment, “including cash, free interstate flights, drugs, and alcohol. 

“Patients improperly induced to attend Compass Detox and WAR were then recycled through Compass Detox and WAR multiple times in order to continuously bill private insurance companies for supposed addiction treatment, even though some patients received little to no legitimate addiction treatment or therapy.” 

Waserstein scored $2,701,090 from the insurance companies and a 13-month sentence. 

Waserstein decided to beat the Bar to the punch and apply for disciplinary revocation without leave to apply for readmission, essentially permanent disbarment. That application has been accepted.

Full Article & Source:
Lawyers’ fake rehab, fake checks, missing real money — from Miami Beach to Palm Beach