Elder

Unsealed Documents Shed Light on State's Opioid Lawsuit

Documents regarding a lawsuit filed in Knox County Circuit Court, where Tennessee accuses Purdue Pharma of intentionally fueling the opioid epidemic, were unsealed last week shedding light on the state’s claim that the company intentionally and specifically targeted Tennessee’s most vulnerable medical providers and patients, including the elderly and veterans, reports the Knoxville News Sentinel. The lawsuit, filed by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III, uses Purdue’s company records and its staffers’ own words to show the firm’s founders and executives pushed the prescription of highly addictive opioids, allegedly calling the pills “hope in a bottle.” You can view the complaint here.

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Nursing Home Chain Settles in Columbia Medicare Fraud Case

Two former occupational therapists at a Columbia nursing home were whistleblowers in a Medicare fraud case that was settled this month for $30 million, The Columbia Daily Herald reports. Kristi Emerson and LeeAnn Holt tipped-off the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, providing documentation that showed the company pressured employees to perform unneeded therapy and manipulated therapist schedules to maximize profit. You can view the complaint here.

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Legislative Candidate's Business Raided Due to Allegations of Elder Abuse

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and local police last Thursday raided an assisted living facility in Cookeville that is partially owned by Republican legislative candidate Ed Butler, the Nashville Post reports. The raid stems from allegations of possible abuse and financial exploitation of the elderly residents of the home, according to District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway. This is not the first time the facility, Senior Lifestyles, has been the subject of legal controversy. The home — known as Living the Dream at the time — made headlines when its prior executive director pleaded guilty to embezzling upwards to $1 million.

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Legal Settlement to Benefit Tennessee Seniors

Tennessee seniors stand to benefit from a legal settlement that has been tied up in court for more than a decade, Nashville Public Radio reports. The settlement of $40 million stems from a suit involving two failed nonprofits, ElderTrust and SeniorTrust, formed by a major investor in Murfreesboro-based for-profit nursing home operators National HealthCare Corporation and National Health Investors, Inc. The organizations were accused by the Tennessee Attorney General of lacking truly charitable purposes and overcharging for their services. 
 
A settlement was reached in 2016, requiring the nonprofits to liquidate 14 properties, with the proceeds benefitting charitable purposes that would be determined by the court with help from the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability. The Davidson County Chancery Court Clerk and Master received 26 proposals for the money and chose six, including $13 million for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis, $12.5 million to charities assisting elderly with debilitating dental problems and an appropriation to legal services for seniors statewide.
 
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This Week: Elder Law Forum 2018

The 2018 TBA Elder Law Forum will return to the illustrious ‘batman’ building in downtown Nashville on Friday. This venerated forum offers top-notch programming, with essential information for both seasoned practitioners and attorneys interested in adding elder law to their practices. With topics such as succession planning, conservatorships, benefits and emerging trends in healthcare, this forum guarantees to be the must-see, must-do event for Tennessee attorneys who share this focus. Section members receive a discount to attend the program. Here are the key details:
 
• When: Friday, July 13, registration begins at 8 a.m., CDT
• Where: AT&T Building – Auditorium, 333 Commerce St., Nashville 
• CLE Credit: 4 General, 2 Dual
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Takacs, McGinnis Present Elder Care Program on WTVF

The Business of Dying

TBA Elder Law Section members Barbara McGinnis and Tim Takacs recently presented a piece titled “The Business of Dying” on WTVF – News Channel 5, Nashville. The discussion addresses death and the difficult and uncomfortable questions surrounding that topic, which make the already stressful situation even worse. You can view the presentation here.

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Next Week: Topgolf CLE — Estate Planning Tee-off

The TBA Estate Planning & Probate Section will host the Topgolf CLE: Estate Planning Tee-off on June 26. The program will feature 2.5 hours of CLE programming, focused on information relevant to new attorneys interested in Estate Planning and lawyers who desire to add this area to their practice.
 
The CLE package includes breakfast, lunch, plus two hours of Topgolf after the presentations. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to build your practice knowledge and fine-tune your drive game, all in one day! 
 
When: Tuesday, June 26, 9 a.m., CDT
Where: Topgolf Nashville, 500 Cowan Street, Nashville, TN, 37207
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Metro Nashville Government to Pay $300,000 in Conservatorship Suit Involving Disbarred Attorney

Metro Nashville government will pay $300,000 to settle a suit filed on behalf of a man who was cheated out of nearly $800,000 by a court-appointed conservator, reports The Tennessean. Former Nashville attorney John E. Clemmons was appointed as the conservator for William Link in 2003 and was placed in charge of Link’s estate following his death in 2004, with funds for the estate intended for allocation to Link's daughter, who has a disability. Clemmons would later plead guilty to stealing $1.3 million from wards and estates he had been appointed to oversee and protect in Davidson and Rutherford counties. He was disbarred in May 2014. After the crimes became public, attorney Paul Gontarek was appointed to replace him and subsequently filed suit against Metro government alleging that if the probate clerk had been monitoring Clemmons, the theft would not have occurred. "We are pleased with the settlement," Gontarek said, "and we appreciate the efforts of the Metro legal department to bring this matter to a conclusion."
 
Metro government, however, argued that any claim against Metro should have been filed within one year of the last time Clemmons took money from the estate, which was in April 2013. Gontarek didn't file suit against Metro until 2014. Though the circuit court accepted Metro's argument, the appeals court rejected that conclusion stating "As we understand it, Metro's defense is predicated on the notion that Mr. Clemmons could have sued for the losses to the estate that stemmed from his own malfeasance. Respectfully we find such a proposition to be absurd," Justice Arnold Goldin wrote, adding that the suit filed by Gontarek was in fact "timely." The appeals court also rejected Metro's argument that it could not be held liable because a judgment already had been issued against Clemmons for the entire loss. The panel ruled that the comparative fault principle did not apply under the facts of the case stating, "Assuming liability can be established, Metro would be liable for the entire amount of damages.”
 
A resolution authorizing the payment was approved without debate by Metro Council last week. Gontarek said that he expects the $300,000 payment to Link’s estate will be made in the near future. You can read the Court of Appeals opinion here.
 
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Harper Lee’s Estate Sues Over Broadway Version of ‘Mockingbird’

The estate of Harper Lee has filed suit in Alabama federal court over producer Scott Rudin and acclaimed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s depiction of Atticus Finch in the much-anticipated Broadway adaptation of novel To Kill A Mockingbird, reports The New York Times. The complaint asserts that Sorkin’s portrayal of the iconic Atticus Finch, the crusading lawyer who represents a black man unjustly accused of rape, presents him as a man who begins the drama as a naïve apologist for the racial status quo, a depiction at odds with his purely heroic image in the novel. 
 
The contract the parties signed states that “the Play shall not derogate or depart in any manner from the spirit of the novel nor alter its characters.” Tonja B. Carter, the lawyer Lee appointed to run her estate, met with Rudin to express “serious concerns about the script,” specifically that Finch is depicted as “rude and selfish” as well as “more confrontational and far less dignified.” “This Atticus,” Carter wrote, “is more like an edgy sitcom dad in the 21st Century than the iconic Atticus of the novel.” The Rudin team is arguing that while the producers must listen to the estate’s view, they are the final arbiters of whether the production is faithful to the novel.
 
"As far as Atticus and his virtue goes, this is a different take on Mockingbird than Harper Lee's or Horton Foote's," Sorkin told New York Magazine. "He becomes Atticus Finch by the end of the play, and while he's going along, he has a kind of running argument with Calpurnia, the housekeeper, which is a much bigger role in the play I just wrote. He is in denial about his neighbors and his friends and the world around him, that it is as racist as it is, that a Maycomb County jury could possibly put Tom Robinson in jail when it's so obvious what happened here. He becomes an apologist for these people” said Sorkin.
 
This production will be the first time To Kill A Mockingbird has been performed on Broadway. The play is scheduled to open on Dec. 13. Click here to read the complaint in its entirety.
 
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Children of Legendary Entertainers Push Elder Abuse Legislation

The children of Casey Kasem, Mickey Rooney and Glen Campbell were joined by supporters to address the Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, promoting legislation protecting rights of adult children aimed at preventing elder abuse according to The Detroit News. Kerri Kasem, Kelly Rooney and Travis Campbell advised the committee on the stories surrounding the final years of their parents' lives and how this legislation might have prevented the abuse and exploitation they suffered.
 
Kerri Kasem was involved in several contentious court battles against her stepmother, Jean Thompson Kasem, for the right to see her father, the "American Top 40" host who died in 2014 of complications of Lewy Body Dementia. Since the death of her father, Kasem has made it a priority to guarantee that family members can visit ill or incompetent relatives through measures such as those being considered in Michigan. "What it would allow the judge to do is to just rule on visitation. It would put the burden of proof on the caretaker," said Kasem. "If they're not allowing visitation, they have to prove why instead of hearsay."
 
Travis Campbell said he was limited in his ability to see his father when the musician began experiencing his decline into Alzheimer's disease. Campbell had concerns about his father's health due to the 151 shows the musician was made to perform over three years, even though the entertainer felt he could not perform that many concerts. Travis was instrumental in getting lawmakers in Tennessee to pass the "Falk Act" in 2016. He said toward the end of his father's life, he was only allowed to see him for four hours twice a month. "(The bill) is not just for us, it's for everybody," said Campbell.
 
Kelly Rooney describes her isolation from her father as "slow ... gradual." Rooney maintains that her father had complained of emotional and other forms of abuse prior to his death in 2014. She became emotional when speaking about not seeing her dad for nearly two years before he died. "They withheld medication and withheld food from him," Rooney said of her father's caretakers.
 
The group, along with the Kasem Cares Foundation, plan to continue the mission in hopes that more states adopt similar legislation to protect vulnerable seniors.
 
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