Repeated Neglect Alleged In Sacramento Elder Abuse Trial, Part 12 of 20

It is worth noting that situations similar to those described in this elder abuse case could just as easily occur at any of the healthcare facilities in the area, such as Kaiser Permanente, UC Davis Medical Center, Mercy, Sutter, or any skilled nursing facility.

(Please also note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this personal injury case and its proceedings.)

California And Federal Regulations Governing Skilled Nursing Facilities Such As Universal Healthcare, Inc. Are A Proper Bases For Presuming Neglect In Elder Abuse Cases
Regulations that establish the standard of care under California Evidence Code section 669 (presumption of negligence) are proper as a basis for presuming neglect under the Elder Abuse Action. Norman v. Life Care Centers of America, Inc., 107 Cal. App. 4th 1233, 1244 (2003). Skilled nursing facilities in California are governed by state and federal regulations. The state regulations are known as Title 22. The federal regulations are known as the OBRA regulations.

For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

In Norman, the Court of Appeals reaffirmed the existing case law in California that plaintiffs are entitled to have the jury instructed on all relevant portions of the regulations governing skilled nursing facilities:

The California Code of Regulations title 22 regulations applicable to licensed skilled nursing facilities define those facilities’ duties of care owed to their residents and therefore define duties of care applicable to elder abuse of those residents. (Conservatorship of Gregory (2000) 80 Cal.App.4th 514, 519-524, 95 Cal.Rptr.2d 336.)

In Conservatorship of Gregory, the trial court’s instructions on elder abuse incorporated title 22 regulations that included numerous, specific examples of what constituted neglect in the treatment and care of nursing home patients. (Id. at p. 521, 95 Cal.Rptr.2d 336.) Conservatorship of Gregory stated:

“[T]he statutory definition of neglect set forth in the first sentence of Welfare and Institutions Code section 15610.57 is substantially the same as the ordinary definition of neglect … ” Contrary to defendants’ characterization of the regulations as vague, the instructions formulated by the court provided concrete examples [that] amplified the instruction on elder abuse based on Welfare and Institutions Code section 15610.07. Accordingly, we reject defendants’ claim the elder abuse instructions misled the jury and prejudiced their case. (Gregory, supra; at p. 521, 95 Cal.Rptr.2d 336.)

The Gregory court rejected the defendants’ contention that the regulations had nothing to do with the Act, noting that the regulations were authorized by Health and Safety Code section 1275 and therefore can be used to describe the care required under an existing statutory right of action for elder abuse. (Gregory, at pp. 522-523, 95 Cal.Rptr.2d 336.)

Based in part on the reasoning in the foregoing cases, we conclude the regulations in question impose on LifeCare duties of care, and a breach by LifeCare of those duties of care constitutes [t]he negligent failure … to exercise that degree of care that a reasonable person in a like position would exercise. (§ 15610.57, subd. (a)(1), italics added.) Accordingly, a violation by LifeCare of those regulations in caring for an elder constitutes elder abuse neglect under the Act. Norman v. Life Care Centers of America, Inc., 107 Cal. App. 4th 1233, 1244-48 (2003).

Here, a number of California and federal regulations apply to defendants’ reckless neglect of Ms. Hill and plaintiffs state their intention now to present these regulations as proposed jury instructions during the jury instruction conference with the Court. (See Part 13 of 20.)

For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

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