The caregiver who picked mushrooms for soup to serve at an elderly care facility has been legally barred from ever holding a caregiver position again, according to Department of Social Services state regulators. The caregiver, Lilia Tirdea, was not accused of intentionally poisoning the victims, but of ignoring repeated warnings by the state that eating wild mushrooms could lead to illness and death.
Four of the five people under Tirdea's care died when they ingested the mushrooms Tirdea used to make the soup, which she allegedly found on the grounds of the facility. Tirdea and a fifth patient were both hospitalized but recovered.
Tirdea is now banned from working in any child care or residential care facility. She has been ordered to cease all contact with clients and to refrain from visiting any such facilities. Her lawyer has described her as "distraught" over the situation.
John Demas notes, "This situation illustrates an important point about legal negligence that many people misunderstand. Negligence is not necessarily defined by the intent of the person who commits a harmful act, but by whether the person should have known the act would be harmful. In this case, the owner stated that he had warned the caregiver about never serving food that was not purchased from a store. She had also been part of the general population that was warned repeatedly, even yearly, by the State of California about the dangers of wild mushrooms."
"Given these facts, her intentions to hurt the clients become irrelevant. While no one is arguing that she poisoned anyone on purpose, it is clear that her actions should have been tempered by her knowledge and by the direct orders of her employer. Instead, she chose to disobey those orders and to serve food that she had collected in the wild. This in and of itself constitutes negligence under the law, making her liable for the damages she has caused."
"However, the caregiver is not the only one who may be liable in this case. Despite the owner's statement that he had warned her about serving non-store foods, his failure to monitor her actions could also be considered negligence. The fact that he warned her might indicate that he already knew that she had served similar foods in the past. A personal injury attorney should examine this case and determine the types of liability present, and the best way to seek damages for the victims' families.