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Elder Abuse Lawsuits

Elder abuse cases pertain to seniors and elderly individuals who experience personal injury or loss caused by caregivers, facility hazards, and other factors. Elder law attorneys and elder abuse attorneys can help elders and their family members who have been victims of elder abuse recognize their rights and protections in elder abuse cases. Convalescent and residential care facilities have an obligation to properly and diligently care for people – such as the elderly – who are dependent on those care facilities for basic needs

Under California law, abuse of an elder occurs when a dependant adult is physically abused, neglected, financially mistreated, abandoned, or endures behavior leading to physical harm or mental suffering. Welf & I Code §15610.07.

When the basic necessary care is not appropriately provided, the law imposes strict remedies against those responsible in an effort to improve the quality of custodial care and attention given to elders and other dependents. Welf & I Code §15657(b).

To succeed in an elder abuse case in California, showing mere negligence is usually not enough; a plaintiff must show that the responsible person acted in a more callous manner — one which disregards the health, safety and dignity of the elder. Due to this heightened standard, elder abuse cases must be ‘clearly’ demonstrated to the court. Experienced
elder law attorneys
and elder abuse attorneys will know how to persuade the court accordingly.

Elder Abuse Case Study( click for details )( click to close )

Herbert K. was 77 years old and lived in a residential care facility in Lodi. His physical condition included: a partial paralysis on his left side as the result of a prior stroke; diabetes; hypertension; depression; difficulty swallowing (“dysphagia”); and blindness.

As was the case with some of the other residents at this care facility, Mr. K was to be fed a “mechanically altered diet” pursuant to his physician’s orders; this included soft/pureed fruits and vegetables, ground meat, fish and poultry, etc. The facility and staff at the care facility were well aware that Mr. K required assistance with all of his activities of daily living – including eating.

However, for whatever reason(s), this was not done during dinner one night. Mr. K was found to be gasping for air and appeared to be choking. After some time passed and 911 was eventually called by the sole CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) who was on duty for the 8 to 10 residents who were present eating dinner, the Heimlich maneuver was attempted. These efforts were unsuccessful.

Once the emergency team arrived it was immediately recognized that Mr. K had something lodged in his throat. One of the paramedics grabbed some tongs, laid Mr. K on his back, and she then proceeded to remove a large chunk of meat from Mr. K’s throat. She (the paramedic) instinctively knew that this large piece of unchewed meat was bigger than what this elderly man should have been served – so she wrapped the meat chunk in a latex glove and took it with the patient to the emergency room.

The ER doctor described the piece of meat as being approximately five (5) cm in size – roughly two (2) inches.

Mr. K was without oxygen for approximately 15 minutes before the emergency team arrived and this caused severe “hypoxia”. He remained in a coma for three days at the local hospital before he died.

An investigation was conducted by Department of Health Services (DHS) and numerous violations and “failures” were found. Based on the DHS determination that these “failures” contributed to Mr. K’s death, a substantial fine was imposed on the facility.

In addition to this monetary fine being imposed by the State of California, a lawsuit was brought by Tabak Law Firm on behalf of the surviving family of Mr. K. The litigation was based on the numerous failures to properly provide for Mr. K’s basic needs and to treat him with the essential dignity and respect owed to all elders and others who are dependent on caregivers for their daily needs. The case was settled for a substantial (and confidential) amount as the result of a mediation. Testimony by the paramedic who removed the large piece of meat from Mr. K’s throat – and who had the foresight to save it as evidence – was helpful in prosecuting the case, as was the testimony of the CNA who no longer worked at the care facility.

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