Elder Abuse and Negligence and the Role of Court Guardianship

Our nursing home injury attorneys in Baltimore, Maryland have been reading about a recent investigation in Arizona, where the question of guardianship is being raised after allegations of elder abuse have surfaced in a home.

According to ABC15, Gloria Horrigan’s daughter Clair was having a difficult time caring for her mother, as she had health issues that made it hard on the family. Horrigan reportedly needed help and Clair decided to appoint a court guardian, as families can’t force elderly individuals to get help, but a guardian could.

Gloria Horrigan’s case ended up in probate court, where issues on vulnerable adults are heard. The guardian that was chosen was Sun Valley Group of Tempe, allegedly offering to care for the social, emotional, physical, and mental health of residents who reside with them, as well as taking care of the residents’ personal finances.

Horrigan’s daughter, Clair, claimed that her mother was promptly taken to a nursing home against her will and not allowed any visitors, including family. Clair claims that her mother did not get the proper medical treatment that was promised, she experienced elderly abuse, and her bills were not paid. Horrigan’s house reportedly went into foreclosure as a result.

Clair claims that Sun Valley Group was supposed to be her mother’s guardian, and look our for her best interests, but the home was much more interested in her mother’s money than her health. Horrigan’s final bill was reportedly around $500,000—including charges for an employee to read her mail for $75 an hour.

ABC15 claims that this is not the first report of a problem with the probate court’s guardianship placement with Sun Valley. There have been three multi-million dollar lawsuits filed this year against the company for racketeering and fraud. The attorney representing the cases claims that Sun Valley Group medicates residents to such a degree that they are non-functional—using chemical restraint—while they liquidate their assets. The Arizona Supreme Court is also reportedly investigating the probate court’s roll in guardianship, to prevent elder abuse or negligence.

As nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers, we support the rights for Maryland and Washington D.C. residents to live in a nursing home environment filled with quality care that improves and maintains their mental and physical health, and is free from elder abuse, neglect and criminal acts resulting in resident injury or harm.

Guardianship in Arizona: Elder Care of Elder Abuse?, ABC 15, May 20, 2010

Related Web Resources:

Foundation Aiding the Elderly, (FATE)

National Center on Elder Abuse, (NCEA)

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