Elderly plaintiff, who suffered from dementia, resided at a skilled nursing facility, which created a plan to reduce her risk of falling. Despite the plan, she fell three times while at the facility and fractured her leg. Plaintiff sued the facility and several employees for elder abuse under Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 15600 et seq., alleging the care plan was inadequate because, for example, it did not require, and the staff did not use, a mobility alarm to alert staff when plaintiff tried to get up from her wheelchair unassisted. Issues included whether the allegations sounded in elder abuse, which requires “neglect” of the elderly patient, or in medical negligence, meaning the performance of medical services below the standard of care.
Elderly plaintiff and her living trust alleged that defendants engaged in abusive conduct, resulting in her signing escrow instructions authorizing the sale of real property owned by the trust. Although escrow was later canceled and the trust retained title to the property, plaintiff alleged that defendants’ conduct constituted financial elder abuse, because the existence of the escrow instructions significantly impaired the trust’s right to sell the property at fair market value or to use it to secure a loan on favorable terms. Primary issue was whether, although the sale of the property was cancelled, the escrow agreement deprived plaintiff and her trust of a “property right” within the meaning of Welf. & Inst. Code, § 15610.30, subd. (c), thus qualifying as financial elder abuse.
Hon. Thomas L. Willhite, Jr. (Ret.)
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