Saturday, August 7, 2010

Nurse Cleared

Chicago-area nurse Mary Williams earned $459,000 in 2004 caring for an aging Highland Park millionaire and his wife. Her huge salary — and the fact that she possessed both a car and various works of art formerly owned by her employer – raised suspicions. Williams was accused of financial exploitation and criminal neglect of an elderly person.

Williams, a Registered Nurse who was one of six RNs hired by S. Edward Marder, cared for Marder and his wife from 1992 until his death in 2007. According to witnesses, Williams acted as a “head nurse” and also handled financial affairs for Marder after his wife’s death.

The prosecution contended that Williams took advantage of her position and her employer’s poor health and dementia. The defense, however, presented evidence that described Marder an alert, lucid and generous man who freely shared his money and possessions.

The court sided with the defense and cleared Williams of all charges on July 30.

Source:
Nurse Did Not Take Financial Advantage of Millionnaire

Woman Admits to Feigning Romance to Bilk Elderly Man

A woman charged with bilking an elderly New Jersey man out of nearly $165,000 by pretending she was romantically attracted to him has pleaded guilty to theft by deception.

Forty-eight-year-old Brenda Miguel was arrested in Orlando, Fla. She pleaded guilty in state Superior Court in Newark.

New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice prosecutors say she and another woman befriended the victim, a West Orange resident, and pretended they needed loans for business ventures.

The second defendant, 46-year-old Susan Frank remains a fugitive.

Miguel faces up to five years in prison at sentencing Sept. 1. She has provided partial restitution and promised to pay back the remaining money.

Full Article and Source:
Woman Admits Feigning Romance to Bilk Elderly New Jersey Man Out of Nearly $165,000

Friday, August 6, 2010

Editorial: The Future of Aging

On July 18, the Washington Post had a wonderful article about the reunion of an 85 year old daughter with her 110 year old mother who lives in D.C. This reunion is the result of the “Medical House Call Program” at Washington Hospital Center.

The program’s staff, which includes physicians, nurse practitioners, and social workers, provides compassionate and skilled primary health care to elders in the comfort of their homes.

Dr. Eric De Jonge, a physician who works in the program, presented on the Independence at Home Act, which was included in this year’s health care reform law, at our Futures of Aging Services Conference this year.

The Independence at Home provision will help providers replicate this “medical house call” program model throughout the country. The program gives incentives for physicians to improve quality of care and reduce costs.

It also increases physician-patient interaction through regular assessments and patient/caregiver education on treating a chronic disease. It is obvious from the article that Dr. De Jonge has a special positive relationship with his 110 year old patient.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) are encouraging the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to implement the Independence at Home (IAH) program.

Full Editorial and Source:
Independence at Home Provision Will Help Providers Replicate “Medical House Call Program”

AstroZeneca Settles Nearly 4,000 Seroquel Injury Claims

AstraZeneca PLC said July 29 that it has agreed in principle to settle with nearly 4,000 Seroquel product liability plaintiffs.

The company said settlement terms are confidential.

In notes to its second-quarter financial report, AstraZeneca said that as of July 27, mediation ordered by Judge Anne C. Conway in the Seroquel multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida "has resulted in agreements in principle on monetary terms, subject to various subsequent conditions, approvals and agreement on non-monetary terms, with the attorneys representing nearly 4,000 claimants."

As of June 29, AstraZeneca said it was defending against 10,363 served or answered Seroquel lawsuits in the United States involving 22,412 plaintiff groups. It said about 72 percent of the cases are in state courts, primarily Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Alabama. The remaining 28 percent are in the MDL court.

As of July 8, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation reported that there were 6,217 active MDL cases, down from a high of 8,187.

Claims of about 1,000 plaintiffs are consolidated in one federal court in California, AstraZeneca said.

In addition, AstraZeneca said it is aware of about 176 additional cases representing about 3,661 plaintiffs that have been filed but not yet served. It said some of the cases involve other drug manufacturers, such as Eli Lilly and Co., Janssen Pharmaceutica Inc. and/or Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.

Full Article and Source:
Astrazeneca Settles Nearly 4,000 Seroquel Injury Claims, Terms Confidential

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Selling Assisted Suicide State to State

As director of legal affairs for Compassion & Choices, [Kathryn Tucker] peruses state constitutions and laws to see if they address assisted suicide, which she refers to euphemistically as “aid in dying.”

So far, Washington and Oregon are the only states that have legalized assisted suicide in this country. Some believe that Montana has also, but a legal analysis of two court decisions which supposedly legalize assisted suicide in the state questions that assumption.

For all its efforts, Compassion & Choices, which was once known as the Hemlock Society, has seen more setbacks than successes. But that hasn’t stopped its latest campaign from revving up in Idaho.

It started in the local press with a column Tucker wrote in the June 25 issue of the Coeur d’Alene Press.

Tucker writes that “Idaho does not have a statute specifically addressing aid in dying, either to permit or prohibit the practice. It does not have [a statute making it] a crime of assisting another to ‘commit suicide.’ Accordingly, in Idaho, physicians can provide aid in dying.”

Margaret Dore, an attorney in Seattle who specializes in elder law, wrote a rebuttal to Tucker’s column for the Idaho Medical Association.

Dore stated that Tucker’s claim that there were no statutes dealing with assisted suicide “is untrue.”

“Idaho does have a statute prohibiting assisted suicide. Moreover, it has been in effect since 1994. Prior to that time, assisted suicide was prohibited solely by common law,” Dore emphasized.

“With assisted suicide prohibited by common law and not subsequently made legal, a doctor who causes a suicide with ‘deliberate intention’ is guilty of an unlawful killing … [and] can be statutorily charged with murder,” Dore explained.

Full Article and Source:
Selling Assisted Suicide State to State

SJC Approves Disbarment of Lawyer

The state Supreme Judicial Court has approved the disbarring of a Gardner lawyer who was convicted of rape and other charges in 2005.

Gary R. LeBlanc, 56, of 20 Cross St., Gardner, has been disbarred from practicing law in Massachusetts, retroactive to Jan. 9, 2006, the date of his temporary suspension.

On Oct. 20, 2005, Mr. LeBlanc was convicted in Worcester Superior Court of two counts of rape, indecent assault on a person 14 or over, distribution of cocaine, providing alcohol to a minor and a drug violation in a school zone, after a trial in Worcester Superior Court. He was also convicted of drugging for purposes of sexual intercourse.

Mr. LeBlanc was sentenced to state prison and required to register as a sex offender. After these convictions, Mr. LeBlanc was temporarily suspended from practicing law. He is still incarcerated.

On Feb. 3, 2009, the state Appeals Court reversed the conviction for administering drugs for sexual intercourse, but affirmed the remaining convictions. Bar counsel filed a petition for discipline on Feb. 4, 2009. Proceedings were deferred while the criminal case was further appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court, which upheld all of the convictions except for drugging for purposes of sexual intercourse.

Mr. LeBlanc had been charged with sexually assaulting an 18-year-old Gardner High School senior on Feb. 2, 2004, after giving her cocaine and alcohol in his Gardner home. The decision says Mr. LeBlanc and the young woman knew each other through friends and family. She was 12 when she first met the lawyer.

On May 18, Mr. LeBlanc submitted an affidavit of resignation in which he maintained his innocence, but admitted that he had been convicted of the offenses charged in the petition for discipline and that the convictions established violations. On June 14, the Board of Bar Overseers voted to recommend to the Supreme Judicial Court that the affidavit of resignation be accepted and an order of disbarment be issued. The disbarment order was accepted on June 30.

Full Article and Source:
SJC Approves Disbarment of Lawyer

Rothstein Case: Feds Say $188mil Restitution Due

Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to approve more than $188 million in restitution for victims of the Ponzi scheme operated by former Florida attorney Scott Rothstein.

Prosecutors said in a filing last week that they have identified 218 people with legitimate claims. More can be added if they provide proper documentation of losses.

Assets including cash, real estate, houses, boats and jewelry have been seized from Rothstein. But officials say the value is far less than $188 million, so victims will likely only get a portion of their money back.

Full Article and Source:
Feds Say $188 Million Restitution Due in Rothstein Case

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Panel Imposes Corporate Liability Upon Nursing Homes

A unanimous Superior Court panel has ruled that a nursing home can be held corporately liable for its actions.

Writing that such liability is already imposed on hospitals, health maintenance organizations and medical professional corporations, a three-judge panel in Scampone v. Grane Healthcare Co. held that nursing homes were similar to those organizations in that they provide "comprehensive and continual physical care" for patients. They are not, Judge Mary Jane Bowes wrote for the panel, like a physician's out-patient office, which is not susceptible to corporate liability claims.

"Except for the hiring of doctors, a nursing home provides comprehensive and continual physical care for its patients," Bowes wrote.

She later continued: "Even though Highland did not have staff physicians, it was responsible for ensuring that all doctor-ordered testing was performed. Clearly, the degree of involvement in the care of patients of skilled nursing home facilities is markedly similar to that of a hospital and bears little resemblance to the sporadic care offered on an out-patient basis in a physician's office."

The plaintiff's attorney in the case, Stephen Trzcinski of Wilkes & McHugh in Philadelphia, said the decision was a "big win" for nursing home residents.It had previously been difficult to bring suit against nursing homes, or the companies that run nursing homes, because the defendants would point to the fact that there was no appellate authority on the issue.

Full Article and Source:
Panel Imposes Corporation Liability Upon Nursing Homes

Direct Care Workforce Empowerment Act

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said he believes direct care workers such as home care aides and nursing assistants often do not get the pay and respect they deserve for the work they do.

Casey plans to introduce legislation in the Senate aimed at ensuring home care workers receive the federal minimum wage and overtime protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The legislation, called the Direct Care Workforce Empowerment Act, would establish a grant program to help states improve recruitment, retention and training for direct care workers who typically receive less than minimum wage for working long hours.

"The direct care workforce provides most of the care for our loved ones. They help every day of the week," Casey said. "It is our responsibility to make sure these jobs are personally rewarding and provide an opportunity for advancement."

Full Article and Source:
Casey Calls for Fair Pay for Home Care Workers

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Motions Argued in Lawsuit Against Former Administrator, Rita Hunter

Judge David Dally promised a ruling next week after motions were argued Wednesday in a lawsuit against Rita Hunter, former Jasper County public administrator, and St. John’s Regional Medical Center.

The lawsuit was filed by Kenneth Hall, now of Monett, who contends that Hunter and St. John’s acted improperly in actions that made him a ward of the public administrator’s office.

Attorneys for Hunter and the hospital contend that the suit in Jasper County Circuit Court in Joplin should be dismissed.

Lynn Myers, a Springfield attorney who is representing several plaintiffs in actions against Hunter, said Hall was declared incompetent in 2006 after a probate court hearing of which relatives were not notified and that Hall was not allowed to attend.

“They could have contacted his relatives; phone numbers for his mother and his daughter were in his pocket,” Myers said. “He was appointed a guardian without prior notice at a hearing held without his presence and without him having the opportunity for a jury trial.”

He said the facts of the case are similar to those involving Emma France, whose guardianship was declared void by Probate Judge David Mouton after he ruled that provisions of state law were not followed in actions that made her a county ward.

After Hall, who was 39 at the time, was made a ward of the county, he was placed at Magnolia Manor, a nursing home in Purdy in Barry County. His case was transferred in 2007 to Barry County for supervision by the Barry County public administrator. He is now independent, after his guardianship was ended in August 2009.

Myers said St. John’s was named in the case because the hospital, while Hall was a patient, petitioned to have the public administrator named as his guardian. Myers contended that the hospital erred by including a medical certificate describing Hall’s condition as part of the open court file.

Joplin attorney Jason Higdon, representing St. John’s, said the hospital should be dropped from the case because Myers’ filing failed to show that the hospital “conspired with the public administrator to deprive (Hall) of his civil rights.”

“They must show there was a meeting of the minds, and we don’t believe the petition comes close,” he said.

Both he and Doug Harpool, a Springfield attorney representing Hunter, said the case should be declared moot because the guardianship had been set aside.

Harpool also said Hunter was not responsible for any legal deficiencies.

“If there were legal problems, they weren’t the fault of Rita Hunter,” he said. “She’s not a lawyer. There were two lawyers and a judge in the courtroom. It’s not fair to hang it on her.”

Myers is asking for a declaratory judgment ruling that Hall was improperly made a ward of the county, and for the return of money spent from his estate during that time. Damages also are being sought.

Investigation
The state started an investigation into operations of the Jasper County public administrator’s office after Rita Hunter left at the end of 2008 and took all the office files with her. Federal agencies took over the probe several months later.

Full Article and Source:
Motions Argued in Lawsuit Against Former Administrator


See Also:
Former Public Guardian Rita Hunter Lawsuit Update

Monday, August 2, 2010

AZ Probate Judge Pro Tem Lindsay Ellis Has Judicial Immunity

Nobody can question retired Commissioner Lindsay Ellis about her decision to give select attorneys a sneak peek at her plan to approve the draining of an elderly widow's life savings.

Superior Court Judge Robert Budoff has ruled that Ellis can't be hauled into court and asked why she decided to send an advance copy of her decision only to the people who stood to benefit from her ruling. Can't be asked just how cozy her relationship was with one side, the side that wound up with most of Marie Long's money. Can't be asked, well, anything.

She has “absolute immunity”

“Not only Judge Pro Tem Ellis, but also her judicial assistant, court clerk and other staff are protected from compelled testimony relative to any communications that may have occurred with any counsel in these proceedings, ex-parte or otherwise,” he wrote, in a ruling made public this week.

But Budoff noted that evidence can be obtained elsewhere and he rejected Ellis' request that he call off his inquiry into her actions.

Ellis' neutrality has long been questioned in the case of the 88-year-old widow who went from having $1.3 million to nothing after suffering a stroke and coming under the protection of probate court. Probate's presiding judge at the time, Karen O'Connor, twice rejected requests last fall to remove Ellis from Marie's case, claiming there was no evidence of bias.

Then came the remarkable revelation that Ellis, through a judicial assistant, in March sent select attorneys an advance copy of her ruling that they and their clients were justified in collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees from Marie's trust. Ellis' ruling also lambasted attorneys for Marie and her sisters, blaming their “hateful and unsubstantiated attacks” for the run-up in fees.

Full Article and Source:
Probate Judge Can't Be Questioned

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Proposed Alzheimer's Laws Could Help Family Members

It's an alarming statistic. Alzheimer's disease is on the rise. Studies show Mississippi isn't immune, and 65-thousand people will have the illness by 2025.

"We consider Alzheimer's a health care crisis," said Patty Dunn with the Mississippi Alzheimer's Association.

That crisis has prompted meetings like one held Wednesday, as members from the national and state Alzheimer's associations, lawmakers, and others discussed legislation about "adult guardianship" laws.

"This legislation because other states have and are considering the legislation would put us all together saying we recognize Mississippi," said Representative Bobby Moak, a Democrat from Bogue Chitto.

Noah Moore said he can relate to this legislation as he has a family member with Alzheimer's out of state.

If guardianship laws pass during the 2011 session, if needed, Moore could handle all legal documents with less confusion.

"It (guardianship laws) will be a vehicle or a means to be able to take control of this situation," said Moore.

"Potentially one of the risk factors for Alzheimer's disease, which are high blood pressure and diabetes, and those risk factors are more prevalent in the African American and Hispanic community," said Dunn.

This simple fact is another reason Moore has decided to take action against a disease that impacts millions of Americans and the family members who care for them.

If you would like more information about this legislation and Alzheimer's disease, you can call the Mississippi Alzheimer's Association at 601-987-0020 or go to their website at www.alz.org/ms

Full Article and Source:
Proposed Alzheimer's Laws Could Help Family Members

Resources for Families Coping With Alzheimer's

Alzheimer’s disease is so cruel—it robs our loved ones of their senses of self, of their mental capacities, of their memories, of their lives. And it forces spouses and children to become caregivers in ways that most people never imagine. With millions of people each year being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or a similar dementia, and millions more dying from it, it is still possible for caregivers to feel lost, confused, and alone. We’ve searched the Web to find some of the most helpful resources for families coping with Alzheimer’s. Hopefully, this top 50 list provides you with some information, inspiration, and even comfort.

Personal Blogs By Caregivers

These blogs have been written by children and spouses of Alzheimer’s sufferers.

1. The Yellow Wallpaper : A heart-rending account of a daughter and mother’s story of love and loss to Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Alzheimer’s Moments : A son chronicles the life of his mother in a nursing home for residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
3. The Zen of Caregiving : An artist struggling with her own bipolar disorder journals about her daily life caring for a husband with Alzheimer’s.
4. Early Onset Alzheimer’s Adventure : Chuck D’Onofrio has been blogging about his diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease since 2006.
5. blog.fadingfrommemory.info : Compelling blog about a family’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease when both parents were diagnosed.
6. Dorian Martin’s SharePosts : Dorian Martin cared for her mother with Alzheimer’s from 2005 to 2007, upon her passing. Her blog shares the ups and downs of being a caregiver.
7. “had a dad” Alzheimer’s Blog : Gereva Bert Piedmont writes this blog as a way to share memories of her late father and to support others going through the struggle with Alzheimer’s.
8. All Your Blogs Are Belong to Us : Heart-wrenching stories from a man who has lost his mother and two brothers to early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
9. Alzheimer’s Support : Sandy shares stories of her mother and provides links and resources to families dealing with this diagnosis.
10. caringformary.blogspot.com : This blogger relates her story of the Alzheimer’s diagnosis of her mother and the last stages of her life.

Full List, Additional Resources and Source:
RadiologyDegree.com: Top 50 Online Resources for Families Coping with Alzheimer's

MO Man Accused of Financial Exploitation of his Aunt

Ronald Herren, 24, of Canton is charged with financial exploitation of an elderly/disabled person.

The prosecutor alleges Herren illegally took funds from his own aunt by making purchases using her credit card and checking account.

In November 2009, Lewis County Public Administrator William Murphy asked the sheriff's office to investigate the matter shortly after he was assigned to oversee the elderly woman’s affairs.

Full Article and Source:
Man Accused of Misuing Aunt's Money