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NASGA is a public interest civil rights organization founded by several victims and for victims of unlawful and abusive guardianship and conservatorship cases. Please visit our website at for more information on how you can help stop guardian abuse.

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    FORT WORTH, Tex. - It's a crime police in Fort Worth, Texas are calling "the lowest of the lows."

    Startled and scared, Suzy Alummuttil found a strange man in her home on Dec. 10. The 83-year-old was lying on a hospital bed in her living room. Next to her, her husband John who had just returned from hospice care.

    "He saw it, but he could not talk," said Allummuttil.

    She cried as she recounted how her dying husband watched as the man ransacked their home.

    Surveillance video shows him pushing their door in, left open for the hospice nurse they were expecting.

    The man searched the house until Alummuttil tried to call 911 and her son for help. She said the man walked over to her and tried to take the phone away, but she refused.

    The intruder left with keys to a Chevy Silverado. He had driven the pickup truck away by the time Alummuttil's son arrived at the house. The son was panicked after getting the call from his mother.

    "All I could hear was some sort of a struggle is what I can best explain it as," he explained.

    He arrived to find them scared but not harmed. The day after the robbery, husband and father John Alummuttil died.

    "It's also one of his last memories, assuming that he was not really cognizant. We had a hard week last week," the son said.

    Unbelievably enough, the doorbell camera that caught the suspect's face was installed just two days before the robbery.

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    Executive chairman and CEO of Viacom and CBS Corporation Sumner Redstone attends a ceremony honoring him with the 2,467th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 30, 2012 in Hollywood, California.
    A Los Angeles judge Monday named a longtime probate attorney to be the guardian ad litem for 95-year-old Sumner Redstone in trial of the billionaire's upcoming litigation against a former live-in companion, subject to the nominee's acceptance of the job.

    Attorneys for both Redstone and his former companion, Manuela Herzer, told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Cowan that the appointment of Samuel Ingham III -- who has represented singer Britney Spears since 2008, when she was placed under a conservatorship after exhibiting bizarre behavior -- was acceptable to them. Ingham's role would be to help protect Redstone's interests leading up to and through the trial, given the former media mogul's severe speech impediment.

    Cowan also found that Redstone's grandson, Tyler Korff, had the legal standing to bring a petition asking for the appointment of a guardian. Herzer's lawyers maintained Korff lacked standing to file the request, but Cowan said Korff had a legitimate interest in knowing that his grandfather's wishes were communicated to his attorneys.

    Cowan also denied Herzer's request that Redstone be examined by an independent medical expert, but said her lawyers could raise the issue again later if the course of the litigation warranted them doing so.

    Herzer's lawyer, Ronald Richards, said he is considering asking a state appeals court to hear Cowan's rulings. He noted that Cowan said he did not view iPhone video footage shot by Redstone's late film producer friend, Arnold Kopelson, at Redstone's mansion on Jan. 28. Herzer's lawyers maintained it was obvious from the video that Redstone has severe cognitive issues.

    "I am concerned he didn't even watch the video,'' Richards said.

    "There is a multiplicity of legal issues.''

    Kopelson died Oct. 8 at his Beverly Hills home at age 83.

    Herzer maintains that Redstone's October 2015 revision of his family trust deprived her of her claims to $50 million in cash and to Redstone's Beverly Park mansion, which is valued at $20 million. In April, Redstone filed a petition asking that the trust amendment be validated by a judge, and trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 14.

    Herzer's lawyers maintain that Redstone lacked the mental capacity in April to make the trust amendment.

    Redstone has another open case against Herzer that alleges elder abuse and seeks to recover assets he maintains she wrongfully extracted from him. The case is set for trial in February 2020, but Redstone's lawyers are asking for a date in 2019 because of their client's age.

    Herzer has also sued Redstone's daughter, Shari Redstone, alleging she convinced the nurses serving her father to turn him against Herzer, who was forced to move out of his home in 2015 and deprived of assets she claims belong to her.

    Trial of Herzer's suit is scheduled for December 2019.

    Lawyers for the former chairman of CBS and Viacom have argued their client is not mentally incapacitated, but only physically limited because of his communication problems. His lawyers said he answers questions by writing his responses on an iPad.

    In his petition, Korff maintained that Redstone "suffers from a number of health conditions, including most notably a severe speech impairment that limits his ability to communicate verbally.''

    Redstone's lawyers filed court papers stating they supported Korff's petition.

    Herzer was not present in court, but sitting in the courtroom were former District Attorney Steve Cooley, who said previously that he sees "intriguing issues'' in Herzer's case, and Gary Snyder, who said he is a cousin of Redstone.

    Snyder briefly addressed the court after Cowan told the lawyers that he had received an email from him. Snyder declined to reveal the contents of the email after the hearing.

    Full Article & Source:
    Judge Approves Guardian Ad Litem Appointment for Media Mogul Sumner Redstone

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    Photo by Steve Buissinne (Courtesy of Creative Commons)

    The evolution, realities and need for reform of New York State’s Guardianship Law

    “Only those with a calcified heart could have read the recent New York Times artcle, I’m Petitioning…for the Return of My Life, without becoming heartsick and concerned,” commented Risa Breckman, Executive Director of the NYC Elder Abuse Center, after having read the December 7, 2018 article. This New York times article motivated NYCEAC to publish this blog focusing on New York State’s guardianship law.

    In some cases of elder abuse, the drastic intervention of requesting a guardian is sometimes deemed to be in the best interest of the victim. In New York state, an overhaul of Article 81 of the state’s Mental Hygiene Law was aimed at providing a more flexible, individualized approach for incapacitated individuals older than 18 years of age. It limited guardians to only those legal powers required to satisfy personal or financial care needs and mandated that courts consider alternatives to guardianship.

    The February 2018 podcast Guardians of New York, hosted by New York State Watch’s David Lombardo, highlights ways in which New York’s current guardianship is now plagued by a lack of resources, shortage of guardians and court examiners, and outdated and inconsistent data methods. The podcast features an interview with Jean Callahan, head of the Brooklyn Neighborhood Office of the Legal Aid Society and former director of The Guardianship Project at the Vera Institute of Justice. It also includes comments, such as the one below, made at a New York Senate roundtable discussion in January 2018.
    “By 2030 … there will be more 80-year-olds here than 5-year-olds,” New York State Supreme Court Judge Arthur Diamond stated during the January roundtable. “We are not prepared to care for and handle what’s coming soon.”
    After considering the challenges of the state’s system, Judge Diamond and other attendees brainstormed such ideas as pilot programs testing local guardianships and strengthening the court examiner system.
    Callahan also expressed optimism. “We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, and I think that our statute is actually really a strong statute. We just need to stick to it a little better.”
    Below are highlights of the main issues mentioned in the podcast.
    Broader and More Diverse Pool of Available Guardians for People with Low or No Assets
    New York needs a broader and more diverse pool of available guardians, said John Holt, the Vera Institute’s Deputy Director of Legal Services.
    “It’s important that we make sure that good guardianship from the enforcement end doesn’t get reduced to merely making sure that the fiduciary duties of a guardian are kept,” said Holt in remarks during the January roundtable discussion. “The quality of life aspects are critically important to good guardianship, but also the most difficult to gauge, particularly in the format of an annual report or the other metrics we currently use in New York to measure whether or not a guardian is performing adequately.”
    New York State Supreme Court Judge Arthur Diamond agrees that it’s hard to get quality guardians especially for people with little to no assets. This shortage is one of the main reasons that brought the January 2018 round table discussion in the first place.
    Improved Monitoring, Centralized Reporting and Data Collection
    Improved monitoring is required to ensure that Article 81 of the state’s Mental Hygiene Law is being applied only to individuals who need it.

    Centralized reporting and data collection would streamline the process and make it easier for prospective guardians to serve, said Callahan.

    Minnesota, for instance, has a searchable statewide database and online portal where individuals can search cases and guardians/conservators can upload their inventory and annual reports.
    “I don’t think we can really, fully appreciate the scope of the problem until we have better data,” Callahan also said in the podcast interview.
    Compensation for Lawyers, Court Examiners and an Increase in Funding Agencies
    Lawyers are refusing to accept cases because of the time involved and lack of compensation from wards with no or low income and assets, said several discussion participants. A basic guardianship can take 50 to 100 hours, by one estimate, with a commitment that can last for years, and no sanctions exist for lawyers who refuse cases.

    New York also needs more support for court examiners who review the annual reports of guardians and a greater public awareness of guardianship and other options, speakers said.
    There is often no money to pay for lawyers or court examiners, and the problem will reach crisis proportions unless action is taken, said New York State Supreme Court Judge Arthur Diamond, a member of the New York State Advisory Committee on Guardianship Matters.
    In addition, Jean Callahan believes that there are not enough service providers and funding agencies to connect people with these services.
    It would “go a long way” to fund agencies currently doing quality work, said Jean Callahan.
    – By NYCEAC’s Elder Justice Dispatch Team: Risa Breckman, Cara Kenien and Nathalie Perez

    Full Article & Source:
    No Time to Lose: Ideas for Improving Guardianship In NYS

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    Sandra Reed
    Tina, an only child, who lives in New York City, is concerned that her mother Mary’s Alzheimer’s makes her vulnerable to manipulation concerning her finances. Although Tina speaks with her mother weekly, Mary’s living in Texas means mother and daughter are together in person infrequently. Because of this, Tina did not realize her mother’s mental condition early enough to insist she execute a power of attorney. By the time Tina recognized the extent of her mother’s deterioration, Mary no longer had capacity to create that power.

    Now Tina is considering instituting a guardianship proceeding to have herself appointed as guardian of her mother’s estate. Is there an alternative Tina can employ without having to establish a guardianship for her mother?

    Mary is financially independent and not the recipient of any needs-based federal or state benefits, so planning to prevent loss of these is unnecessary. The Texas Estates Code §1301, et seq., allows a court to establish a trust for an incapacitated individual if the trust would be in the person’s best interest. Tina is financially savvy and can easily handle her mother’s financial affairs, including the investment of Mary’s assets. Therefore, Tina could be the trustee for the management trust. With today’s online banking features, Tina should experience minimal difficulties in handing her mother’s finances from afar.

    Since the incapacitated person must be the sole beneficiary of the trust, Tina may not be a beneficiary of the trust. As trustee, however, Tina can manage her mother’s assets without having to apply to the court for permission to make discretionary distributions, pay expenses and take other day-to-day actions.

    If Tina were appointed her mother’s guardian, she would have a duty imposed by Texas Estates Code §1161 to keep all of her mother’s assets invested, except for those funds immediately necessary for her mother’s education, support and maintenance. As a guardian managing her mother’s estate, Tina would have to act as a person of “ordinary prudence, discretion and intelligence.” She would be required to consider her mother’s probable income and increased value of the assets; safety of capital; anticipated costs of support; her mother’s age, education, current income, net worth, liabilities, and ability to earn additional income; the nature of the ward’s estate; and any other resources reasonably available.

    As Trustee of the §1301 management trust, Tina can choose whether it is wise to invest certain assets, because the estates code provides very little restriction on the trustee. This increased flexibility is a distinct advantage, particularly in today’s volatile investment environment.

    Tina will have to file an application for creation of a management trust established in the Texas probate court with jurisdiction and venue over her mother’s estate. However, once the court establishes the management, Tina will not have to obtain the court’s permission for actions as she would with a guardianship. This substantially decreases the cost of securing control over and protection of her mother’s assets.

    Sandra W. Reed is an attorney with Katten & Benson, an Elder Law firm in Fort Worth. She lives in beautiful Somervell County, near Chalk Mountain.

    Full Article & Source:
    Management trust can often substitute for guardianship

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    The death of an 89-year-old woman at a York County nursing home has been ruled a homicide.

    An investigation found Nancy Young got into an "unwitnessed" fight with another resident of Pleasant Nursing Home in Springettsbury Township on Dec. 8. As a result of the fight, Young fell and broke her hip.

    Young died of complications from the fall on Dec. 15.

    "Because the fall was a result of the altercation with another resident, Young's death is ruled a homicide. The coroner's definition of homicide can be broad, referencing death that occurs at the hands of another. This does not mean that the ruling of homicide has legal merit - that may or may not be determined by police, the DA or a court," reads a statement from the York County Coroner's Office.

    Springettsbury Township Police have been notified of the death. They are investigating.

    Full Article & Source:
    89-year-old woman's death at nursing home being investigated as homicide

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    Ret. Sgt. Chris Kurtz and his wife Heather Kurtz pose for a portrait on the couch in their living room.
    Erica Brechtelsbauer for NPR
    Chris Kurtz is trying to keep his sense of humor. Even after the VA told him last summer that he no longer needs a caregiver.

    "Apparently my legs grew back, I dunno," he says with a laugh, and sinks into his couch in Clarksville, Tenn. And then he mentions that he probably can't get out of the couch without help from his wife.

    In December 2010, a bomb blast ended his Army deployment to Afghanistan. He lost both legs above the knee and half of his lefthand. Heather, then his fiancée, joined him at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the VA suggested she apply for their new caregiver program.

    The program was set up to support family members of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. They're mostly wives and mothers who receive a VA stipend to provide home health care that would otherwise cost the VA millions of dollars.

    When it started in 2011, vets signed up in huge numbers, quickly overwhelming the VA staff assigned to the program.

    In recent years many VAs have drastically cut their rolls — often with little explanation to the caregivers.

    Top, Ret. Sgt. Chris Kurtz waits for his chair after arriving home. Bottom left, Kurtz wheels himself up to his front door as his wife and caretaker Heather Kurtz follows behind. Bottom right, Kurtz rests his hand, which is missing fingers from his injury. Erica Brechtelsbauer for NPR 
    The cuts come at a time the program is supposed to be growing. Congress approved a major expansion of the program in May, though implementation could take years.

    Congressional sources confirmed that the VA has missed its first deadline in October to implement new information technology for the caregiver expansion — raising serious concerns of further delay. VA says the department will not deploy the new system until it is ready and has been tested thoroughly
    But VA also recently blew through a deadline to fix the IT for a new GI bill rule, and did so without initially telling Congress about the delay.

    Jillyan Motter holds her younger brother Gabriel Kurtz.
    Erica Brechtelsbauer for NPR 
    Chris and Heather Kurtz had been getting the highest level of support — Tier 3. That meant a stipend, health care for Heather and quarterly visits from a nurse. But earlier this year, Heather Kurtz was told her standing in the program was being evaluated. And without anyone from the VA even coming to see them, the Kurtzes got dropped in July.

    Not reduced to a lower tier, but simply told that Chris no longer needs any help from Heather.

    "He's all better now, all better," she said sarcastically as Chris laughed. "So he doesn't need a caregiver for anything."

    "It was part of my identity. And then to have a letter tell me, 'Well you're no longer on the caregiver program,' it hurt like a punch in the gut. Because I didn't stop caregiving. I've always been a caregiver and I always will be," she says.

    The home of Ret. Sgt. Chris Kurtz and Heather Kurtz on base at Fort Campbell.
    Erica Brechtelsbauer for NPR 
    The Kurtzes are not alone. Just across the border near Bowling Green, Ky., Ashlee and J.D. Williams also got bad news, around Thanksgiving.

    J.D., a former Army sniper, lost three limbs in a bomb attack in Kandahar. He's fiercely independent, and he still finds ways to bow-hunt and target shoot. But he can't do basic things like put on his prosthetic legs without help from Ashlee.

    "It's a 24/7 job," she says. "If he wants to put his legs on he needs assistance. He wants a shower, he needs assistance. It's not my choice. I worked full time before, at a job I enjoyed. [I had] to walk away from that."

    The Williams were demoted to Tier 1 of the program — but once their story got negative media attention, they were quickly restored to a higher tier. Still, Ashlee Williams says the way the decision was so easily changed makes her nervous.

    Former Staff Sgt. J.D. Williams poses for a portrait with his wife and caretaker Ashlee Williams.
    Erica Brechtelsbauer for NPR 
    "We're in the clear right now — but for how long? It could be next month and they reassess us again," she says.

    An NPR report this year found that some VAs across the country have cut their rolls drastically. The VA says it's part of standardizing the program and removing some vets who never should have qualified.

    But a VA inspector general report in August found that about half the time, the VA wasn't adequately monitoring the veteran's health when it dropped them.

    "So many caregivers are having issues," says Williams, "and there's no one to look at their case."

    That's certainly true for the Tennessee Valley VA. From 510 caregivers on its rolls early last year, there are now only 104 — a drop of 80 percent.

    It's not only Tennessee. A VA spokesman said nationally the total number on the program has decreased slightly as facilities more accurately and consistently identify veterans who meet eligibility criteria for the program.

    Caretaker Ashlee Williams helps her husband, Former Staff Sgt. J.D. Williams, put on one of his prosthetic legs.Erica Brechtelsbauer for NPR 
    But it doesn't feel more accurate to Sherman Gillums — he's a paralyzed former Marine who uses the VA in Washington, D.C. His wife is his caregiver.

    "I was also told that in order to stay on the program, that I needed to have gotten treatment in the VA within the last year," he says, "or else I'll be removed from the program."

    Gillums says he had been to the VA for treatment. He thinks either the administrator who contacted him didn't seem to have complete access to his health records, or it was something worse.

    "You could take that as just informing me of the policy or it seems like a veiled threat — that's just how I took it," he says.

    Gillums is also a senior official with one of the country's largest veterans organizations, AMVETs. And he's the vice chairman of the VA's own caregiver advisory committee. He thinks there's an effort to shrink the program.

    "I characterize it this way — beginning a purge," Gillums says.

    Old wheelchairs and prosthetic legs sit in a corner of Former Staff Sgt. J.D. Williams' home.
    Erica Brechtelsbauer for NPR 
    He says getting the program fixed is crucial — because it's about to grow five or six times bigger.

    Congress passed a law in May, the VA Mission Act, which begins expanding the program to caregivers for veterans who served before 9/11, starting with vets from World War II, Korea and the Vietnam era.

    VA Secretary Robert Wilkie told NPR last month that improvements in the program are underway.

    "I think we are close to fixing that. What was the Mission Act has done [is] provided us with more resources to go out into the community and find those families that we have not been supporting, from the Vietnam era in particular," Wilkie said.

    Families like Paula and Chris Minger in Temecula, Calif. Chris suffered an abdominal wound in 1973, and complications led the VA to rate him 100 percent disabled. Paula has been taking care of him — without any VA stipend — for over 30 years. He's in and out of the hospital, and now he's often bedridden at home.

    Former Staff Sgt. J.D. Williams practices shooting with his bow in his backyard on Dec. 11, 2018. Williams uses his love of hunting not only as therapy for himself but for other disabled combat veterans.Erica Brechtelsbauer for NPR 
    "He's probably just the most amazing guy I've ever known in my life. His mind is so good. He's an avid reader. He does everything he can to make himself better," she says.

    But now he's 68 and she's 67, and she'd love some help, so the caregiver expansion was great news.
    "I'm thrilled by it — I can't wait," Minger says.

    She'll have to wait, though. The timeline isn't clear for when the expansion will start.

    Bipartisan sponsors in Congress said they wanted to make sure to get the program right before rolling it out — particularly an update to the IT system. Congressional sources said it could be one to three years before Vietnam vets get in - but that hasn't been communicated to caregivers like Paula Minger, who thought she might be able to apply this spring.

    "I'm speechless," she said upon hearing the one to three year estimate. "Think how many will die before then."

    Full Article & Source:
    VA Still Arbitrarily Cutting Caregivers From Program, Even As It Aims To Expand

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    Jim Tucker, former speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives, is now CEO of the nonprofit nursing home conglomerate CommCare Corp. Tucker, shown above in 2011, pushed against legislation discouraging institutionalization of the elderly and disabled. (Travis Spradling/The Advocate)
    Louisiana’s nursing homes are among the nation’s worst.

    The state ranked 50th in patient quality of care in a recent AARP report, which noted high rates of pressure sores and antipsychotic medications.

    Elderly citizens widely prefer staying in their homes with help as long as possible, studies show. And advocates for changing the system say that making institutionalization a last resort would save the state money.

    But when legislation was introduced this year to address that imbalance, three prominent former lawmakers helped torpedo it before it could progress.

    Former House Speaker Jim Tucker urged the House Appropriations Committee to kill the proposal. Joe McPherson, the former chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, told his onetime colleagues the reform was impractical. And Sherri Buffington, the committee’s former vice chair, watched from the audience.

    Each of them is deeply connected to the nursing home industry, which has strongly opposed the changes.

    Tucker is the CEO of CommCare Corp., a nonprofit that runs 13 Louisiana nursing homes. McPherson is the administrator and part-owner of a nursing home in Lafayette. And Buffington, who as a legislator sponsored laws that helped nursing homes reap more money, now lobbies for the health care sector, including a Shreveport hospital system that owns a nursing home.

    The muscular display from former lawmakers is not unusual in Louisiana, a state known for a pro-business climate, and in particular a lax regulatory environment. Former lawmakers, whose legislative jobs brought in $30,000 to $40,000 a year in combined salaries and per diems, frequently leverage the part-time jobs into much higher-paying roles in the private sector or in the upper ranks of government. The bills they sponsored and positions they espoused at the Capitol give them a launching pad for lucrative future opportunities.

    Some work around the state ethics law requiring them to wait two years before lobbying the Legislature. Instead, they push industry positions before other government branches, or sign on as “consultants” rather than lobbyists. Others take on top jobs at state agencies or in the executive branch, working on behalf of interests they once championed from the floor.

    “There’s a whole flock of them,” said State Sen. Conrad Appel, a Republican who sponsored the bill this year supporting more home- and community-based care. “Do they have any extra authority because they were a legislator? I’d say no. But they do have a leg up because they’re friends with people there, and they know how the system works, and they have contacts.”

    To gauge the continuing influence of former lawmakers, The Advocate and ProPublica tracked the 99 former members who left the Legislature between 2010 and last month’s elections. Thirty-five went on to jobs in the spheres of lobbying, consulting, governmental affairs, state government, state boards or as legislative advocates for businesses they run. The group includes members of all political affiliations.

    “They’ve proven their loyalty to the industry already, and they still have influence,” said Bruce Blaney, a former state health official, about lawmakers who advocate for nursing homes. As the head of an association of more than 300 in-home support providers, Blaney has often tangled with the nursing home industry. He has yet to prevail.  (Click to Continue)

    Full Article & Source:
    In Louisiana, More Than a Third of Ex-Lawmakers Continue to Try to Influence Their Old Colleagues

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    ROCK HALL, Md. (AP) — A Maryland probate court judge is facing disciplinary action following an arrest for driving under the influence earlier this year.

    The Commission on Judicial Disabilities charged Amy L. Nickerson with violating the Maryland Code of Judicial Conduct in October, a charge that became public Friday after Nickerson filed a response.

    The Kent County Orphan’s Court judge was arrested March 9 when she was stopped for speeding. She received probation before judgment in July on a count of driving while impaired.

    She was also found guilty to reckless and negligent driving.

    Nickerson acknowledged all of the allegations and apologized for her conduct.

    She called the arrest “isolated” and pointed out that she was still re-elected this year. She said she would consent to an appropriate reprimand.

    Full Article & Source:
    Maryland Probate Court Judge Faces Sanctions Over DUI Arrest

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    Shirley Burrows with her granddaughter.
    Shirley Burrows needed follow-up treatment for three “superficial” bedsores when she was discharged from a Lockport hospital to a Newfane nursing home.

    Instead of getting better, Burrows’ sores worsened, her attorneys said. The wounds became infected, and a bone in Burrows' lower back was exposed.

    A Niagara County jury earlier this week awarded $1.25 million to the 72-year-old woman, after determining Newfane Rehab & Health Care Center was negligent in its care of her.

    The jury award was unusual: Most lawsuits against Western New York nursing homes are settled before trial and the amount is kept private at the nursing homes' request.

    “She had gone to the nursing home for wound care treatment and they horribly neglected her,” said Brian R. Hogan, one Burrows’ attorneys at Brown Chiari law firm. “What makes this egregious is they knew she had sores and she was not seen by a doctor at the nursing home.”

    Burrows was transferred from Eastern Niagara Hospital to the nursing home on March 3, 2015, following her approximately two-week hospital stay. After her bedsores worsened, she was taken to Mount St. Mary Hospital’s wound care clinic in Lewiston.

    “When she arrived at the clinic, the staff was saw the size and and depth of the wounds they became emotional and immediately admitted her to the hospital for surgery,” Michael C. Lancer, Burrows' other attorney, said.

    Her wounds were on her sacrum and backside, the lawyers said.

    Bedsores, also known as pressure sores, occur when a section of the body is pressing against a surface for too long and not repositioned to alleviate the pressure. Medical protocol to prevent sores calls for repositioning every two hours.

    These injuries remain an ongoing issue in nursing homes despite efforts in recent years in New York State to drive down the number of residents who end up with them.

    At Newfane Rehab, 6.02 percent of the long-term, high-risk residents developed bedsores from July 2017 through June 2018. Only 0.2 percent of the short-term residents there had new or worsened bedsores. Both marks were better than the statewide averages: 6.8 percent for long-term residents and 0.8 percent for short-term residents.

    “This is the sort of thing we see over and over again at different nursing homes. All they’re doing is documenting, but not really treating the wounds,” Lancer said.

    The lawsuit was filed in June 2015 against the Newfane facility, Integrated Care Systems LLC, and Eastern Niagara Hospital in Lockport. The nursing home was operated until June 2015 by Integrated Care Systems LLC and the real estate was owned by the hospital. Companies run by out-of-town investors in Maximus Newfane LLC bought the operating license and the property at 2709 Transit Road that same month, according to state and federal records.

    Attorney Seth A. Hiser, who defended the nursing home and Eastern Niagara Hospital in the two-week trial before State Supreme Court Justice Daniel J. Furlong in Niagara Falls, declined to comment. Craig Shaffer, the administrator at the nursing home, did not respond to requests for comment.

    The federal government rates Newfane Rehab as a two star, or “below average,” facility in its five-star rating system.

    After her surgery, Burrows was discharged from Mount St. Mary and she now lives at her home in Newfane.

    “It took two years of treatment at the wound clinic and she still has an open wound, but it is a lot smaller and her daughter is caring for her,” Hogan said.

    Of the verdict amount, the jury awarded $475,000 for past pain and suffering, $300,000 for future pain and suffering, and an additional $475,000 for violating a state public health law that requires special protections to nursing home residents, for the total of $1.25 million.

    Attorney Don Chiari said his law firm was initially told by attorneys for the insurance company covering the nursing home that it “would never pay a dime on this case.”

    Medical Liability Mutual Insurance Co. provided the insurance for the facility.

    Full Article & Source:
    Jury awards woman $1.2 million over nursing home's neglect

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    NEWPORT, Vt. (WCAX) A Vermont man is accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from his 84-year-old aunt.

    Police say Eric Brigham, 52, of Williamstown, stole $48,000 from his elderly aunt who lives in Newport by abusing his power of attorney. They say Brigham spent the money on himself. He's also accused of selling his aunt's belongings when she entered a nursing home. Investigators think he may have left her with debt, too, with more than $20,000 owed to credit card companies and her nursing home.

    Brigham is due in court next month. He's charged with financial exploitation.

    Full Article & Source:
    Vermont man charged with stealing from elderly aunt

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    COLERAIN, OH (FOX19) - A family is demanding changes at a Colerain nursing home after it says a loved one was hospitalized while in the home’s care.

    The family made several complaints to the Ohio Department of Health about the Liberty Center of Colerain, which led to an on-site investigation. It claims a woman’s infected wound was left untreated and it nearly killed her.

    Since that time the nursing center has been cited for several violations of state and federal regulations.

    Elizabeth Smith-Burrell has been staying at the Liberty Nursing Center of Colerain for nearly two years. In October her health declined significantly after she developed a pressure ulcer on her lower back.

    "If you have a weak stomach it'll make you cringe," said Michael Nowell, who is the cousin and legal guardian of Smith-Burrell.

    Nowell showed FOX19 pictures of the wound on his 71-year-old cousin’s lower back, which are difficult to look at.

    “The wound is probably 1 1/2 inch in diameter and 3 inches deep -- and at the base of the wound I can see her spine. I can see white bone, her spine,” said Nowell.

    He says Smith-Burrell came to the Liberty Center of Center of Colerain after being partially paralyzed from a stroke. Nowell says that her doctor ordered a cushion to relieve pressure while sitting in her wheelchair. He also prescribed protein supplements to help her body heal and prevent bed sores. However, Nowell says the staff at the facility never followed through with the doctor’s orders.

    “She a diabetic and when you have an eruption in your skin like that it could be deadly. This particular episode that’s she’s going through right now is very -- it’s got her close to death,” said Nowell.

    Public records from the Ohio Department of Health list multiple violations at the Liberty Nursing Center of Colerain including: “The facility failed to initiate and consistently follow physician ordered treatments to prevent the development of avoidable pressure ulcers and/or promote the healing of three of five residents, which resulted in Immediate Jeopardy for two of five residents.”

    The administrator of the Liberty Nursing Center of Colerain, Brenda White, said she was not able to discuss patient care but issued this statement: “We do provide quality care. We have a 5-star rating in our quality measure determined by Medicare and Medicaid Services.”

    Nowell says he hopes the nursing home makes major changes to prevent a similar infection from happening to another patient.

    “It’s really sad to have that happen to someone," he said.

    Nowell is now reaching out to lawmakers in an effort to legalize cameras in private rooms in nursing homes.

    Full Article & Source:
    ‘I can see her spine’: Ohio nursing home cited after several complaints

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    Marvin Siegel and “Daddy’s girl” Lisa Belanger, before guardians took them away from each other. Photo provided by family.

    Commentary by Terri LaPoint
    Health Impact News

    Attorneys and guardians have plundered the estate of Marvin Siegel, a retired attorney from Boxford, Massachusetts. At the same time they have gone through the courts to isolate him from his children and essentially imprison him in his own home.

    His youngest daughter Lisa Belanger followed in his footsteps in becoming an attorney, inspired by her father’s principles of fighting for what is right. She says:
    He taught me to not be silent when wrongs are being done to others.
    She and her sister Devora Kaiser were shocked to see the strong arm of the state in keeping them away from their beloved father when he was captured from his family in 2011.

    See their original story:

    Massachusetts Senior Citizen and Attorney Medically Kidnapped – Estate Plundered – Represents National Epidemic

    Marvin Siegel’s daughters had no idea how deeply the corruption in the guardianship issue runs, but they have had a front row seat to see the conflicts of interests, sweetheart deals, drugging of senior citizens, and raping of their estates that are standard fare in some probate courts, such as the one their family has had the misfortune of being subjected to.

    According to the Boston Broadside:
    In March of 2015, Marvin’s daughter, Attorney Lisa Siegel Belanger, filed an extensive federal civil action in which she claims that Atty.
    Kazarosian is part of a long-embedded insidious enterprise of corrupt lawyers and judges using the Massachusetts Probate & Family Court system to exploit elders—and any person of any age for that matter who happen to be vulnerably labeled as “incapacitated.”
    Lisa’s extensive, detailed complaint and accompanying exhibits can be viewed by the public free of charge at
    In our last update on their story in July 2018, we reported that attorney Marsha Kazarosian retaliated against Lisa Belanger and her efforts to free her father by filing with the Bar Association to have her disbarred.


    Massachusetts Attorney Exposing Medical Kidnapping Threatened with Being Disbarred

    Marsha Kazarosian is an appointee of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, and she currently sits on the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers – the very group that has the power to ultimately decide the fate of Lisa Belanger’s law career.

    Photo Source: The Boston Broadside.
    The latest developments seem to paint a picture of the deck stacked against the attorney who is simply fighting with all she has for the God-given human right to have a relationship with her father, without government interference.

    According to a recent order from the Board of Bar Overseers, the Board has ruled that Belanger will not be allowed to “introduce any exhibits at the [upcoming] hearing,” nor will she be able to have witnesses testify on her behalf.

    The hearing was supposed to take place December 4-6, but it has been continued to early January.

    Meanwhile, Lisa and her sister were notified on Monday, December 10, that their father has been hospitalized. He has pneumonia, but Lisa Belanger is forbidden to see her father by Marsha Kazarosian and the new court-appointed guardian for Marvin Siegel, Brian Bixby, who was recommended by Kazarosian.

    The Boston Broadside reports these latest developments, up to Mr. Siegel’s hospitalization:

    Gov. Baker’s Appointee, Atty. Marsha Kazarosian, Moves in for the Kill ‘to Protect her $$$ Source’

    Boston Broadside Dec 2018
    The Boston Broadside takes on Attorney Marsha Kazarosian and Elder Abuse.

    Full Article & Source:
    Massachusetts Seeks to Disbar and Silence Attorney Fighting to Expose Corruption in Senior Medical Kidnappings

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    A creditor must seek payment of unpaid bills from a deceased spouse’s estate before attempting to collect payment from the surviving spouse, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled today.

    The Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that a southwest Ohio nursing home was required to file a claim with the estate of Robert Bell before it could pursue payment for his care from his widow, under Ohio’s “necessaries statute.”

    Writing for the Court majority, Justice Judith L. French explained the necessaries statute, R.C. 3103.03, directs a spouse to care for the other if the spouse is unable to do so. Because the nursing home did not attempt to find out if Robert Bell, through his estate, was able to pay the bill, it could not pursue Cora Sue Bell for payment.

    Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Terrence O’Donnell, Sharon L. Kennedy, and Mary DeGenaro joined Justice French’s opinion.

    In a dissenting opinion, Justice Patrick DeWine wrote that the plain language of the necessaries statute does not require that a creditor first pursue payment from the spouse’s estate. 

    Justice Patrick F. Fischer also dissented without a written opinion.

    Click to View
    Spouse Dies, Bill Arrives
    In January 2014, Robert Bell entered into an admission agreement with Embassy Healthcare (doing business as Carlisle Manor Healthcare) that stated he was “responsible for all amounts due and owing the facility” for his stay at Carlisle Manor in Warren County. Cora Bell signed as the “responsible party.” However, nothing in the agreement made her “in any way personally liable for payment for services rendered” by the nursing home, the agreement stated

    Robert Bell died in 2014. On Nov. 25, 2014, six months and three days after his death, Embassy sent a notice that it was seeking $1,678 from his estate. Included in the notice to Cora Bell was that she was not personally liable for the account. As of Nov. 22, no estate had been opened for Robert Bell, and Embassy did not seek to have an estate administrator appointed within six months of his death for the purpose of presenting a claim for unpaid services.

    In June 2015, Embassy filed a complaint in Franklin Municipal Court in Warren County against Cora Bell seeking payment for her husband’s unpaid expenses, invoking the necessaries statute.

    Bell asked the court for summary judgment, arguing that Embassy could not prove her husband was unable to pay the bill and that the nursing home failed to file a claim within the six-month statute of limitations in Ohio’s estate claims law, R.C. 2117.06. The magistrate hearing the case ruled in Bell’s favor, finding that Embassy failed to offer any evidence that Robert Bell or his estate could not pay for the services.

    A Warren County Common Pleas Court judge also sided with Bell, but for different reasons than the magistrate. The trial court found Embassy failed to present the claim to Robert Bell’s estate within the six-month deadline.

    Embassy appealed the decision to the Twelfth District Court of Appeals. A divided Twelfth District reversed the decision, finding that a claim can be pursued against a spouse independently from making a claim against the estate. Bell appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case.

    Court Examines Statutes
    Justice French explained the Court had to examine the interplay between the estate claim and the necessaries statute. The opinion noted the necessaries law developed over time and has its origins in the common law necessaries doctrine. That doctrine required a husband to be liable for any necessaries, such as food, clothing, shelter, or medical services that was provided to his wife. It stemmed from the need to provide essential items and services to neglected wives.

    The latest version of Ohio’s statute extended the responsibility to both spouses and requires “each married person” to support themselves, and if a married person is unable to do so, the spouse must assist in the support “as far as the spouse is able,” the opinion noted.

    The majority opinion stated that Robert Bell retained primary responsibility for his unpaid bill and that Embassy must seek to collect payment from his income and assets. R.C. 3103.03(A) states that a married person is responsible for supporting oneself and only “if” the spouse is unable, must the other spouse assist in support.

    “The nondebtor spouse becomes liable only if the debtor spouse does not have the assets to pay for his or her necessaries,” the opinion stated. “A creditor must therefore first seek satisfaction of its claim from the assets of the spouse who incurred the debt.”

    The Court majority noted the agreement with Embassy and Bell’s husband stated he was responsible for the debt and as the responsible party she was not personally liable. The Court concluded that Embassy was required to first seek payment from the estate before pursuing Bell.

    Wife Can Be Pursued if No Estate Assets
    Embassy could prevail under the necessaries statute if it can show that Bell’s husband’s estate was not able to pay the bill, the opinion stated. The Court disagreed with Embassy’s argument that it could independently seek payment from both the estate and the spouse to cover the outstanding bill.

    The opinion stated that the estate law requires all creditors, including claims arising out of contract, must be presented under the terms in R.C. 2117.06. The Court found Embassy’s claims arose from its contract with Robert Bell and his obligations became the obligations of his estate when he died.

    The Court noted Embassy wrote to Bell informing her that it would seek payment from the estate. However, Embassy never sought to open an estate. The opinion indicated that if no estate has been opened, the creditor is required to seek the appointment of an estate administrator so that a claim can be filed within the six-month deadline. Embassy did not do that, the opinion stated.

    “Because Embassy sat on its rights, its claims arising from Robert’s obligations under the admission agreement is forever barred ‘as to all parties’ including Cora,” the Court concluded.

    The Court reversed the Twelfth District’s decision and affirmed the trial court decision in favor of Cora Bell.

    Dissent Says Necessaries Can Be Pursued
    In his dissent, Justice DeWine maintained the majority created a “broad new rule” subjecting those seeking payment for necessaries to estate-law requirements. He wrote the necessaries statute contains no such requirements.

    Justice DeWine explained that under the necessaries statute, Embassy had to prove Robert Bell was unable to pay and that one way to show this would be by making a claim against his estate and finding there were insufficient funds to pay the bill. But, he wrote, the inability to pay could be shown in other ways. For example, the creditor might be able to compile records that establish the person died without assets and there would be no payment by filing a claim against the estate.

    The dissent noted it would be a “vain act” for a service provider to wait for an estate to be opened to a file a claim when the provider knows the person has no assets and also knows the surviving spouse is capable of paying. The dissent cautioned that the majority ruling would subject other creditor actions to the requirements of R.C. 2117.06, not only those that arise under the necessaries statute. The dissent would affirm the Twelfth District’s opinion.

    2017-1031. Embassy Healthcare v. Bell, Slip Opinion No. 2018-Ohio-4912.

    Video camera icon View oral argument video of this case.

    Please note:Opinion summaries are prepared by the Office of Public Information for the general public and news media. Opinion summaries are not prepared for every opinion, but only for noteworthy cases. Opinion summaries are not to be considered as official headnotes or syllabi of court opinions. The full text of this and other court opinions are available online.

    Full Article & Source:
    Nursing Home Barred from Seeking Outstanding Bill Payment from Surviving Spouse

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    An Augusta woman accused of fleeing the state after learning she had been indicted on a charge of exploitation of an elderly or disabled adult was denied bond Thursday.

    Serena A. Joyner, 41, was initially only charged with a misdemeanor offense following the death of a 61-year-old stroke victim Sept. 7. The Richmond County grand jury returned an indictment Nov. 6. When members of the Crimes Against the Vulnerable and Elderly went to arrest her the next day she was gone, Assistant District Attorney Amanda Pennington said during Joyner’s bond hearing Thursday.

    Joyner was arrested Nov. 9 in eastern Ohio.

    She had been hired to take care of the 61-year-old stroke victim. The day she died, Joyner used the woman’s debit card to make withdrawals and pay her own bills, Pennington said. She told investigators that the woman owed her $500 which she attempted to withdraw from the bank, but her own log showed the woman had been giving Joyner advances, Pennington said.

    The investigation also revealed Joyner pawned several items that belonged to the victim, and had possession of the woman’s safes, Pennington said. A search of Joyner’s phone revealed texts between Joyner and her husband about breaking into safes, searching the woman’s home, and stealing the victim’s prescription pain medication, Pennington said.

    Defense attorney Thomas McCants asked Judge Michael N. Annis to set a reasonable bond for Joyner who had no prior criminal record. McCants provided a letter from her husband’s employer showing he was working a job in West Virginia, just over the state line with Ohio. Joyner and their children were staying with him there since the start of November, McCants said.

    Joyner’s attorney pointed out that an Augusta man indicted the same day as her who was charged with trafficking an elderly or disabled adult was granted a $140,000 bond. Joyner’s continued incarceration would cause her family financial hardship because her husband is in danger of losing his union job, McCants said.

    Annis denied bond, saying he believed Joyner posed a significant danger of fleeing.

    Full Article & Source:
    Augusta woman accused of elderly exploitation denied bond

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    A group of retired friends from Salt Lake City, Utah used to meet every Saturday at a friend’s deli, where they’d drink coffee and shoot the breeze. It was a nice way to spend retirement… until they all outlived their respective material. Realizing they’d already heard all of each others’ stories and knew everything interesting about each other already, deli owner Tony Caputo decided to get a card table and rent a tent at the farmer’s market across the street so the group could give out free advice to strangers instead of listening to each other.

    Caputo wasn’t kidding. He and his friends set up the “Old Coots Giving Advice” tent, complete with an official banner and the slogan, “It’s probably bad advice, but it’s free.” It was all pretty much a joke at first. A way for the group to liven up their Saturdays. But then something funny happened: people started showing up, and with some serious questions.

    And the Old Coots — comprised of Gus Wheeler, Lou Borgenicht, Carol Sisco, Chris Vanocur, Tony Caputo and John Lesnan — give them real, thoughtful answers.

    From The Washington Post:
    “Where can I find someone to love?”
    “Why does my cat pee on everything in the house?”
    “Have I put in enough time at my new job to take a one-week vacation?”
    Quickly, they realized how much people need a sounding board. They took the responsibility seriously.
    “People ask us, ‘Are you guys qualified to do this?’ and of course, we have to say no,” said Caputo, 69. “But neither was Ann Landers. Hopefully, we won’t mess people up too much.”
    Each Saturday since the summer, the “Old Coots” have taken on the issues of about 30 to 40 people who come by seeking their advice. It’s a way for a person to get an outside opinion from somebody who has nothing to gain, he said.
    “It started as a joke, but it’s become a phenomenon,” Caputo said. “Somebody told us the other day that we’re the most popular attraction at the market. We always listen carefully and don’t give gratuitous advice.”
    This is my new plan for retirement. Set up a table at a farmer’s market for me and my friends (but replace the coffee with a cooler full of beers) and tell younger people how to handle stuff. I promise my advice will be twice as bad!

    “You can’t find love? Put out more.”

    “Trouble with your boss? Find out his or her computer password and play porno on their work computer. The weird stuff. The stuff that no one wants to explain.”

    “Class too hard? Fake having ADD so you get put in a remedial course but still get to be given credit like you were in the hard one.”

    “Bully problems? Here’s my switchblade bring it back next week.”

    Full Article & Source:
    “Old Coots” Set Up Table At Farmer’s Market to Give Free Life Advice

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    Our series, A More Perfect Union, highlights how the things Americans have in common far outweigh our differences. In this installment, we look at the power of the written word. Common core standards no longer require students to learn cursive, but supporters of long-hand writing refuse to let it die. Omar Villafranca visited a school in Dallas to see how loops and tails are connecting people in a digital world.

    Students Connect With Seniors Through Letters in Cursive

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    An innovative retirement home in The Netherlands has opened its doors to students who live on site and help elderly residents in return for free lodgings while they carry out their studies.

    In today’s society both young and old increasingly find themselves living in a bubble of like-minded and similar-aged peers. This is especially true of university students who leave home at 18 to live with people of the same age – who have quite often had similar life experiences.

    Given this, the report that a Dutch nursing home has established a programme providing free rent to university students in exchange for 30 hours a month of their time “acting as neighbours” with their aged residents is unusual.

    The programme has seen students in their early twenties sharing lives with residents in their eighties and nineties. As part of their volunteer agreement, the students also spend time teaching residents new skills – like how to email, use social media, Skype, and even graffiti art.


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  • 12/24/18--22:00: Josh Care: Forgotten Love
  • Official Music Video for "Forgotten Love' by Josh Card, from the forthcoming album "With A Heavy Heart".
    Join the fight to end Dementia and Alzheimer's at or visit Alzheimer's Association.


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