Elder Abuse

Elder Abuse: Simple or Gross Negligence

By on April 1, 2015 - Comments off

Worsham v. O’Connor Hospital, (Sixth District, April 23, 2014) 2014 WL 2085555, — Cal.Rptr.3d —-, 14 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 5525

An elderly woman who suffered a broken arm and broken hip as a result of a post-surgery fall at a hospital transitional care unit, filed an action against the hospital, alleging violation of the Elder Abuse Act (Wel. & Inst.Code, §§ 15600, et seq.). The plaintiff alleged that the unit was chronically understaffed, and did not adequately train the staff it did have. The plaintiff also alleged that the defendant was aware that she had a risk of falling, and that the defendant should have provided a “sitter” as recommended by the patient’s physician.

The trial court sustained the defendant’s demurrer to a second amended complaint without leave to amend, and the court of appeal affirmed, holding that absent facts indicating recklessness, the failure to provide adequate supervision would constitute professional negligence but not elder abuse: Read the rest »

Posted in: Elder Abuse



Elder Abuse: Arbitration Agreements

By on May 23, 2013 - Comments off

Daniels v. Sunrise Senior Living, Inc., (Fourth District, January 4, 2013) 212 Cal.App.4th 674, 151 Cal.Rptr.3d 273, 13 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 250, 2013 Daily Journal D.A.R. 185

A woman whose 93-year-old mother died following her stay at a residential care facility for the elderly filed an action against the owners and operators of the facility, asserting elder abuse and survivor claims as her mother’s successor in interest, and a wrongful death claim on behalf of herself as an individual. The Plaintiff alleged that her mother, who had been suffering from dementia with psychosis, had received inadequate treatment at the facility, resulting in injuries which ultimately led to her death.

The defendants petitioned the trial court to compel arbitration of the claims pursuant to an arbitration clause in a “residency agreement” which had been signed by the plaintiff as her mother’s attorney in fact. Although it had not been signed by the plaintiff in her personal capacity, the agreement nevertheless purported to cover all claims regarding the mother’s care, and to bind all of her heirs and representatives. The trial court denied the petition to arbitrate, finding that as a third party to the arbitration agreement in her capacity as an individual, the plaintiff could not be compelled to arbitrate her wrongful death claim, and that there was a possibility of conflicting rulings on common issues if the survivor claims were arbitrated but not the wrongful death claim. The court of appeal affirmed, holding that there was no basis to infer that the plaintiff had agreed to arbitrate the wrongful death claim: Read the rest »

Posted in: Elder Abuse


Elder Abuse: Religious Corporations

By on May 29, 2008 - Comments off

Little Company of Mary Hospital v. Superior Court (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 261, 75 Cal.Rptr.3d 519

A man whose mother died while in the care and custody of a hospital owned by a tax-exempt religious corporation, filed an action for elder abuse against the hospital, seeking punitive damages. The hospital moved to strike the punitive damage, citing Code of Civil Procedure section 425.14, which provides that no claim for punitive damages may be made against a religious corporation unless a trial court first concludes that the plaintiff has evidence which “substantiates that he or she will meet the clear and convincing standard of proof” under Civil Code section 3294.

The plaintiff opposed the motion, relying upon the California Supreme Court’s ruling in Covenant Care, Inc. v. Superior Court (2004), 32 Cal.4th 771, which held that C.C.P. section 425.13, a statute imposing similar requirements in actions against health care providers, was inapplicable in elder abuse cases. The trial court denied the motion, finding that the rationale articulated in Covenant Care to exclude elder abuse-related punitive damages claims from the requirements of section 425.13 applied equally to claims against religious organizations. However, the court of appeal issued a writ of mandate directing the court to strike the punitive damage claim, holding that section 424.14 applies to claims for punitive damages against religious health care providers, even in the context of elder abuse actions: Read the rest »

Posted in: Elder Abuse