Consumer Protection for Elders - California Case Brief

by Michael Worthington
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What special protections are there in California law for abuse of an elder in a consumer transaction?

The California legislature has addressed the issue of elder abuse and developed a set of civil remedies for rescuing defenseless people from imminent danger of physical harm or mental suffering. This refers primarily to people with caretakers or at the mercy of errant family members.

There are also protections against "financial abuse" involving theft or embezzlement of funds of an elder. These too appear inapposite.

There is a plethora of cases involving home improvement scams that target unsuspecting people, particularly elders. Often these scams involve pushing older homeowners into high interest loans.

This case has been brought in the Superior Court for Monterey, California against a company named THD At-Home Services which operates out of the Home Depot stores. It does not fall into the traditional realm of "elder abuse", and the facts of the case don't lend themselves to the common home repair scam.

Perhaps the biggest difference is that the bad actors here were under the cloak of a nationally recognized multi billion dollar company. Stripped to its essentials, however, the case demonstrates that Home Depot is obviously making promises with no intention of performing and is actually putting its customers in harms way of unscrupulous operators while raking in generous profits from its scheme.

The value proposition is "start to finish project management". Our elderly plaintiff was specifically willing to pay extra for the special protections offered in connection with change orders on his roofing project, and the offer of 12 months no payments no interest financing.

The issue is whether the plaintiff has a remedy under California law, including any special consideration because of his status as an elder. Please read the case brief and if you have any insights (this includes attorneys as well as consumers), contact the author.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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