Archive for August, 2012

Conservator In, Companion Out, in Torrington Probate Case of Eli Schutts; the Drama Promises to Go On

August 31, 2012

TORRINGTON – At a probate hearing Monday in the nursing home that houses Dr. Eli Schutts, 86, Judge Michael Magistrali appointed Lorraine Seely conservator for the retired Western Connecticut State University philosophy professor.

With this ruling Ms. Seely once again has control of Dr. Schutts’ estate and care. The Litchfield Hills Probate Court had previously appointed her and his daughter, Prisca Cox of London, temporary co-conservators but that status expired Aug. 12.

For two weeks, the now wheelchair-bound Dr. Schutts, who has been a resident of Litchfield Woods since early summer, has been without court oversight. Though Ms. Cox was present via Skype, Judge Magistrali only named Ms. Seely as conservator.

“I give her absolute power,” said Dr. Schutts, after Judge Magistrali explained Ms. Seely will be in charge of his affairs though he will still possess power to revoke. “She must have full knowledge of my financial condition. I have a rock-bottom belief in this person – otherwise I’d be pointing a gun at my head.”

“I’m not in dementia, I know I’m not,” Dr. Schutts said, further explaining that he understands this arrangement. “I have Parkinson’s.”

The ruling came at the protest of Edith Johnson, Dr. Schutts’ companion since the 1980s, and Deborah Logue, the lay minister of Bethlehem’s Christ Episcopal Church. Both were present, and they claim that Dr. Schutts, who in court said he will not cede control to Ms. Johnson, has been manipulated, and in Torrington his best interests are not the first concern.

Full Article & Source:
Conservator In, Companion Out, in Torrington Probate Case of Eli Schutts; the Drama Promises to Go On

See Also:
Stage is Set for Monday Probate Hearing to Determine Next Step in Contested Case of Retired WestConn Professor Eli Schutts

Associate probate judge named in Franklin County

August 31, 2012

CARNESVILLE, Ga. — Franklin County Probate Judge Eddie Fowler has appointed the county attorney to serve as associate probate judge.

At a called Franklin County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday night, county attorney Bubba Samuels said he will serve as the associate probate judge for the foreseeable future. Fowler swore in Samuels on Monday. Fowler and Samuels then signed the order appointing Samuels as the associate judge.

“The appointment requires the approval of the county governing authority,” Samuels told the county commission. “We’re informed by the (Georgia) Judicial Qualifications Commission that they approve of this arrangement to ensure that the business of the probate judge’s office goes on. I’ve also spoke with Probate Judge-elect Ken Eavenson, and he agrees this is the best course of action at this time.”

Eavenson was elected Aug. 21 as the new probate judge, but his term does not begin until January.

Samuels emphasized that Fowler is still the probate judge at this time. As a constitutional officer, Fowler is not under county authority, but the board of commissioners did need to approve his appointment of Samuels. That approval was unanimous Tuesday evening.

The move comes, Samuels said, as a decision of Fowler, who was arrested last week and charged with misdemeanor sexual battery. Fowler is out of custody on bond and has not been in the probate judge’s office since his arrest. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation continues to look into the case.

Full Article & Source:
Associate probate judge named in Franklin County

Autistic Adult in Crisis Goes Unnoticed

August 31, 2012

WARNING: Disturbing footage: Mom Discovers Autistic Son in Drug-Induced Crisis, during HOSPITAL stay, while nurses and doctors fail to notice! Patient was given drug Haldol, which is listed on his chart as a drug NOT to give. They gave it anyway. Video illuminates patient abuse and neglect of severely-autistic patients/persons inside hospital and institutional settings. Hospitals are seldom equipped to deal with severe autism and complex medical or behavioral issues.

Autistic Adult in Crisis Goes Unnoticed

Allstate Sues Florida Brain-Injury Center, Claiming Fraud

August 30, 2012

Allstate Corp. (ALL), the second-largest U.S. auto insurer, is seeking fraud damages in a lawsuit alleging that a Florida brain-injury facility warehoused patients who were beaten and abused by staff.

The suit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Tampa, seeks $7.6 million that the insurer says it paid the Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation to treat its claimants, as well as triple damages under federal racketeering laws and other costs.

Allstate alleges patients from Michigan, which mandates unlimited lifetime medical benefits for automobile injury coverage, were recruited to the Florida facility through an aggressive marketing campaign that promised an array of services that were never provided.

Some patients washed the cars of the center’s employees, an activity that was considered vocational training, according to the lawsuit.

Wayne J. Miller, an attorney representing the facility, known as FINR, said the company would not comment on matters in litigation.

The lawsuit, which also named FINR owner Joseph Brennick as a defendant, follows a Bloomberg News report last month on dozens of cases of alleged abuse at the facility. Patients’ families or state agencies have accused FINR of abuse or care lapses in at least five residents’ deaths since 1998, two of them in the last two years. Three former employees face criminal charges of abusing FINR patients — one of whom was allegedly hit repeatedly for two hours in a TV room last September.

Removals Ordered

Last week, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration said FINR was treating people without brain injuries — in breach of its license — and ordered the company to move dozens of patients to other facilities.

Allstate said it began investigating the treatment of its insured patients at FINR in 2011. Its review included interviewing patients, hiring experts to study medical records and ordering exams with a neuropsychologist. The lawsuit covers the cases of a dozen patients — identified only by initials in the legal filing — whose care was paid for by the Northbrook, Illinois-based insurance company.

In some cases, patients were kept too long at the facility or shouldn’t have been there in the first place, the lawsuit alleges.

Full Article & Source:
Allstate Sues Florida Brain-Injury Center, Claiming Fraud

See Also:
Florida Orders Brain-Injury Center to Move Some Patients

Stage is Set for Monday Probate Hearing to Determine Next Step in Contested Case of Retired WestConn Professor Eli Schutts

August 30, 2012

TORRINGTON—Appropriately or not, Eli Schutts, an 86-year-old retired philosophy professor at Western Connecticut State University, has been a resident of Litchfield Woods Health Care Center since the early days of summer.

His fate is a matter of uncertainty, but the picture may become clearer Monday when he will be the focus of a Torrington Probate Court hearing at Litchfield Woods.

The Litchfield Hills Probate Court had previously appointed a temporary conservator for him, but that order expired Aug. 12. At Monday’s 9:30 a.m. probate hearing, which will be open to the public, former temporary conservator Lorraine Seely is expected to seek permanent appointment.

Edith Johnson, Mr. Schutts’ companion since the 1980s, doubts his best interests have been put first. She is in a public fight to see Mr. Schutts freed from facilities, but the previous appointment of Ms. Seely and questions over his physical well-being have left her with little recourse.

The struggle of Ms. Johnson as a lay person and non-family member to act as an advocate illustrates the difficulties one encounters when challenging established power. Her undertaking also gives an indication of the limits of institutions to accommodate or accept independent voices on behalf of patients.

Full Article & Source:
Stage is Set for Monday Probate Hearing to Determine Next Step in Contested Case of Retired WestConn Professor Eli Schutts

The Defining Issue of Our Generation

August 30, 2012

Baby boomers are accustomed to feeling self-important. The 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 were dubbed the Me Generation for good reason. We have high expectations, we want only the very best, and we are savvy consumers of goods and services.

We are not the Greatest Generation – that was our parents – but we were raised to believe in the American Dream. It was there on television (black and white at first) in the lives of Beaver Cleaver, Donna Reed, Dick van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore. It involved growing up with your mom and dad; completing school and getting a good job; falling in love and getting married; having two great kids, a house and a two-car garage; seeing your children grow up and have children of their own; and living happily ever after. No wonder we have high expectations.

Unfortunately, we soon discovered that real life was not like TV. Throughout our lives boomers have collectively revised and reimagined every facet of the American Dream. When we were having babies, for instance, boomers transformed the way pregnancy and childbirth was approached not merely by health care, but also by society as a whole.

Full Article & Source:
The Defining Issue of Our Generation

Florida Orders Brain-Injury Center to Move Some Patients

August 29, 2012

A Florida brain-injury center facing allegations of abuse has been ordered to move dozens of its patients to other facilities, according to a state report released today.

The Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation, one of the largest facilities of its kind in the country, is treating patients without brain injuries — a breach of its license, say Florida regulators.

During a surprise inspection earlier this month, state officials say they found that 50 of 98 patients whose records were reviewed did not meet the licensing criteria for treatment at the center’s main facility near Wauchula, about 50 miles Southeast of Tampa.

The state said the institute, commonly called FINR, must submit a plan to relocate those patients to a facility “that is appropriate to meet their needs.”

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration also found that FINR was keeping patients too long, another violation of its “transitional living facility” license. It ordered the center to develop a new protocol for discharging patients.

Wayne J. Miller, an attorney representing FINR, didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.

Surprise Inspection

Investigators from three state agencies conducted a surprise inspection on Aug. 2 and 3 following a Bloomberg News report of dozens of cases of alleged abuse and neglect at the facility. FINR, a for-profit company, treats patients from across the country.

Related: Abuse Of Brain Injured Americans Scandalizes U.S.

Patients’ families or state agencies have alleged abuse or care lapses in at least five residents’ deaths since 1998, two of them in the last two years. Three former employees face criminal charges of abusing FINR patients — one of whom was allegedly hit repeatedly for two hours in a TV room last September.

Florida’s Department of Children and Families has received 514 allegations of abuse or neglect at FINR since 2005, including 37 that were “verified” by its investigations, according to records released by the agency. Investigators are still reviewing 23 of the claims.

Amid the heightened regulatory scrutiny, 10 lobbyists from four different firms registered with Florida officials this month with the state to represent FINR, according to state records.

Full Article & Source:
Florida Orders Brain-Injury Center to Move Some Patients

See Also:
Abuse of Brain Injured Americans Scandalizes U.S.

Florida Ended Death Probe at Private Brain Rehab Center

Florida’s Most Vulnerable in Danger of Abuse

Florida Brain-Injury Center Gets Surprise Inspection

Connecticut Pulls Disabled From Site of Alleged Beatings

Police Probe Death of State Psychiatric Patient in Florida

Probate judge faces charge in Franklin County

August 29, 2012

CARNESVILLE – A Franklin County Probate Judge faces one count of sexual battery in an ongoing investigation.

According to Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent In Charge Jim Fullington, the agency charged 71-year-old Judge Eddie Fowler with the one misdemeanor count last Tuesday night.

Full Article & Source:
Probate judge faces charge in Franklin County

Suspect in South Daytona deaths takes plea on fraud charges

August 29, 2012

Still under investigation in the deaths of an elderly man and woman whose bodies were found two years ago in South Daytona, Kimberly D. Smith pleaded guilty on Monday to a slew of fraud and exploitation charges.

Smith was sentenced to 15 years in prison and 10 years probation. She was also ordered to pay almost $150,000 in restitution to the families of Goldie Robinson and Arthur Sheldon.

Police say Smith was the self-appointed caretaker of Robinson, who was 77 when she disappeared in mid-2010, and Sheldon, a Port Orange man who was 66 when he vanished in late 2009 or early 2010.

Authorities searching for Robinson found Sheldon’s body in a garbage can on Aug. 25, 2010. They found Robinson’s in a shallow grave just more than a week later. Both deaths have since been ruled homicides.

Police haven’t been able to charge anyone with murder, and the investigation remains open. Many of the charges Smith pleaded to Monday related to her use of the elderly woman’s personal identification and credit card.

Full Article & Source:
Suspect in South Daytona deaths takes plea on fraud charges

Texas Judges: Out of Order – Part 3

August 28, 2012

Texas is one of just six states that select all of its judges in partisan elections. Critics say that creates conflicts of interest and politics becomes more important than qualifications. In the third part of “Texas Judges: Out of Order,” we look at the pros and cons of the way Texas selects judges and some alternatives.

“All rise, the 95th District Court of the State of Texas is now in session. The Honorable Ken Molberg presiding.”

Lawyers snap to attention as Judge Ken Molberg prepares to rule on a motion involving two healthcare companies. At one point he raises his voice and tells an attorney to stop talking when she interrupts him. Never mind, that the attorney’s law firm contributed generously to Judge Molberg’s reelection campaign. As it turns out, the opposing law firm in the case donated too.

“It’s not unusual for me given the many years I’ve been in this community as a lawyer before I was a judge to know both sides of that table very, very well and to have had both of them contribute to my campaign,” said Molberg.

“You just saw a small motion where I got a little testy with one of the lawyers who happened to be one of my largest contributors. That lawyer didn’t get any slack out there this morning,” he pointed out.

Judge Molberg is a former Dallas County Democratic Party Chair and one of the biggest fundraisers among the county’s civil and criminal judges. Records show that in the first six months of his reelection campaign Molberg raised more than $175,000 just in case he drew a primary opponent which he didn’t. And 93% of the contributions came from attorneys and the legal community many of whom appear in his court.

How that’s perceived by the public bothers some of Molberg’s colleagues on the bench including Judge Jim Jordan, whose courtroom is down the hall. Like Molberg and most Texas judges, Jordan’s campaign contributions also come almost entirely from lawyers.

“Any litigant who comes into the court should leave the court knowing that their case was decided on the law and the facts and not believing that their case was decided because the judge received a contribution from an attorney or one of the parties,” said Jordan.

“And as hard as we work to make sure we make our decisions based on the rule of law, it’s difficult to fight the perception if we’re taking money from the lawyers and the parties coming into our courts, he said.”

Money and party politics are the biggest reasons Jordan wants to do away with partisan elections as a way of choosing Texas judges.

“A judge’s robe is black. It’s not blue or red. So we need to get our selection off the partisan ballot,” said Jordan.

Molberg says attorneys contributing money don’t expect favors; they just want to elect judges who know the law. And Molberg is adamantly opposed to the so-called retention system used in at least 14 states, where judges are appointed often by the legal community or the governor. Then, at the end of their terms, voters decide whether to keep the judges or get rid of them.

“The reality is a guy like me does not want a body of 12 lawyers deciding who are going to be the judges out here,” explained Molberg. “I feel a lot more comfortable if the guy who works down at the gas station is in on the deal. I don’t want the governor just saying this is who your judge is going to be. I think that is very unhealthy.”

Full Article & Source:
Texas Judges: Out of Order – Part 3

See Also:
Texas Judges: Out Of Order

Texas Judges: Out of Order – Part 2