Elder Law Court Cases

JULY 24, 1995 VOLUME 3, NUMBER 4

Recent Court cases of interest to providers and advocates for seniors:

Daughter, Limited in Visits to Mother, Sues

Barbara Miller claimed that she just wanted to visit her mother in her Ohio nursing home. But, she alleged, the nursing home hid her mother from her on at least three occasions when she attempted to visit, and interfered with her mail and telephone calls to her mother. In one instance, the nursing home even had her arrested when she visited.

Ms. Miller sued the nursing home and her brother. She alleged four different causes of action: interference with a family relationship, defamation, malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The federal trial court dismissed all four claims.

In March, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal. The Court of Appeals ruled that Ms. Miller could pursue her claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, although they upheld the dismissal of the other three causes of action. The effect of the ruling: Ms. Miller will now get to make her case before the trial court. Miller v. Currie, Sixth Circuit, March 22, 1995.

Court-Ordered Child Support Not a Deduction

Alan Tarin, age 47, suffers from Parkinson’s. When placement in a Massachusetts nursing home was imminent, his wife divorced him and secured an award of child support for their two children.

Unfortunately, Mr. Tarin’s child support was not deducted from his income for Medicaid purposes. As a result, Mr. Tarin’s “turnover amount” (the amount he is required to pay toward his nursing care) was not reduced for the child support payments. Tarin v. Bullen, Mass. Super. Ct., April 1, 1995.

Generalizations About Generations, Part II

Last week Elder Law Issues invited readers to suggest some of the formative events that might have shaped the attitudes of those born before the Depression. Several responses are thought-provoking, even if not particularly precise science.

One contributor suggests that a key difference between those born before the Depression and the so-called “Depression Babies” (those born between 1929 and the early 1940s) may account for some attitude differences. While “Depression Babies” were born into a world of shortages and hardships, their immediate predecessors were born into a period of relative wealth and stability. Many were in their early teens or young adulthood when they lost everything and watched their friends and neighbors suffer as well. They may be even more unlikely to make gifts or spend money on themselves than those born into the Depression.

One correspondent also points out that it was uncommon for pre-Depression workers to be supervised by bosses younger than themselves. By contrast, post-World War II work environments made such situations more common. As a result, the older generation may be more sanguine about the shortcomings of Baby Boomers and Baby Busters in the workplace than their successors.

But remember: generalizations can be dangerous.

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