Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse

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Many companies, including nursing homes and residential care facilities, have patients sign arbitration agreements at the time of their intake. While these types of agreements purport to waive the patients’ right to pursue legal claims in court against the facilities, they are not always enforceable. In Nelson v. Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center, Inc., Cal. Ct. App. Case No. G059565, the Court of Appeal considered whether the trial court erred in determining that an arbitration agreement was unconscionable and unenforceable.

Factual and procedural background

Brandon Nelson was a 26-year-old engineering graduate who developed acute psychosis in Jan. 2018. He told a police officer friend that he needed to borrow a handgun to kill himself because he felt evil and animal-like. The friend called the police, and Brandon was placed on a psychiatric hold for 72 hours in an inpatient psychiatric facility. He was subsequently treated for six weeks, first in Pasadena at Las Encinas Mental Hospital (LEMH) and subsequently in Laguna Beach at Mission Hospital. The hospital records at LEMH noted that Brandon was delusional, paranoid, believed he was being recorded, was fearful, and was considered gravely disabled. LEMH discharged him on Feb. 23rd. He was then admitted to Mission Hospital three days later on Feb. 26 on a new psychiatric hold after he again threatened to commit suicide. Brandon signed a durable power of attorney (POA) on Feb. 27, granting his father, Allen Nelson, power of attorney to handle Brandon’s financial affairs and personal care, including the ability to use Brandon’s resources for placement in a residential care or skilled nursing facility.

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In California medical malpractice lawsuits involving allegations of professional negligence, the state caps awards of non-economic damages at $250,000. However, when a lawsuit involves allegations of abuse while in the care of licensed professionals, there was previously a question about whether the damages cap applies or if instead noneconomic damages are unlimited under the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act (Elder Abuse Act). In a recent case involving patients in a mental health hospital who were sexually abused by an unlicensed mental health aide, the Court of Appeals considered whether the damages cap under the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) applied or if the damages award could instead be unlimited under the Elder Abuse Act.

Factual and Procedural Background

In the case of Samantha B., et. al. v. Aurora Vista Del Mar, LLC, et. al., Cal. Ct. App. Case No. B30231, several women who were patients of a mental health hospital alleged that they were repeatedly sexually abused by an unlicensed attendant. Samantha B., Danielle W., and C. F. were patients at Aurora Vista Del Mar, a licensed psychiatric hospital. The facility was owned by Signature Healthcare Services.

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nursing home abuse, nursing home neglect, California AttorneyNursing home abuse in California is still a huge problem. By way of example: The case of an 88-year-old Sacramento, California woman found dead in 2013 after living in a residential nursing home was unbelievably tragic. According to press reports, the elderly woman had developed severe bedsores, triggering sepsis–a life-threatening bacterial infection–and ultimately her death.

Who was to blame for this terrible neglect of an elderly Californian?

To the Department of Justice, it was the owner of the elder-care facility in which she had lived for many years. The federal government lodged felony charges, including manslaughter, against the operator. Local media called it one of the first prosecutions of its kind.

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