Part II - Elder Abuse Statute Does Not Limit Liability to Health Care Providers with Custodial Obligations

To continue our previous blog on Winn v. Pioneer Medical Group, plaintiffs and appellants, Kathleen Winn and Karen Brendahl filed an elder abuse complaint against Pioneer Medical Group (defendants and appellants) for failing to refer their mother, Elizabeth Cox (decedent), to a vascular specialist, despite defendants' findings of peripheral vascular disease and progressive deterioration of Elizabeth's health consistent with the disease. Kathleen and Karen sought damages, costs, attorney fees, and punitive damages.

Pioneer Medical Group demurred asserting that to be liable under the Elder Abuse Act, a defendant "must have custodial obligations,' and not merely provide care. The defendants also argued that the conduct alleged in the complaint only constitutes professional negligence and does not amount to the "reckless neglect" required for an elder abuse claim. The trial court dismissed Kathleen and Karen's complaint, stating that plaintiffs "failed to provide facts showing that defendants denied the decedent needed care in a reckless sense as is required for a violation of the Elder Abuse Act[.]… Instead, the allegations describe professional negligence and incompetence which, without malice, oppression, or fraud are insufficient to support a claim for neglect under the Elder Abuse Act." The plaintiffs appealed.

Tune in for more on this topic on subsequent blog.

*This blog entry was not written by an Attorney and should not be construed as professional legal advice.

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