Weekly Law Resume - August 18, 2011 - Elder Abuse-Standards for Neglect


Elaine Carter, et. al. v. Prime Healthcare Paradise Valley, LLC Court of Appeal, Fourth District (August 12, 2011)

This case considers the factors that must be present for conduct to constitute neglect within the meaning of the Elder Abuse Act. Claims under this act allow for enhanced remedies, such as recovery of attorney's fees. Further, a plaintiff who sues as the personal representative or successor in interest of a deceased elder is partially relieved of the limitation on damages imposed by Code of Civil Procedure section 377.34 - which means they may also recover damages for the decedent's pre-death pain and suffering.

Plaintiffs Elaine Carter, Newgene Grant and Roosevelt Grant, Jr., appealed a judgment entered after the trial court sustained a demurrer without leave to amend. Plaintiffs sued defendants Paradise Valley Hospital (the "Hospital") and Paradise Valley Health Care Center, Inc. (the "Center") for the death of their father, 87-year-old Roosevelt Grant ("Grant"), on theories of elder abuse (Welf. & Inst. Code Section 15600 et. seq.-the Elder Abuse Act), willful misconduct and wrongful death.

Roosevelt Grant was admitted to the Hospital on April 21, 2008. Two days later he was transferred to the Center for short-term rehabilitation. He was then hospitalized a second time for treatment of pneumonia and pressure ulcers, some of which developed at the Hospital. After eight days at the Hospital and a further stint at the Center, Grant was admitted to the Hospital for a third time, where he died on August 18, 2008. Plaintiffs allege during this hospitalization, the Hospital did not give him life-saving medications and that it failed to properly stock a "crash cart", such that he died when those treating him could not locate a common size endotracheal tube and intubate him. Plaintiffs claimed many of the Hospital's records were fraudulent.

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