Georgia Nursing Home Abuse Case
Personal injury attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, is based in Lawrenceville, Georgia, near the Gwinnett County courthouse. He handles personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. This post involves recent news as reported in the AJC regarding an indictment of three staff members of a DeKalb County, Georgia, nursing home. As the baby boomer generation ages, nursing home abuse will unfortunately likely become more prevalent in the news.
Richard Armond was an experienced prosecutor who handled elder abuse prosecutions before leaving the Gwinnett District Attorney's Office to start his own firm. He uses that knowledge to protect the rights of elder persons and their families in the event a nursing home abuse lawsuit needs to be considered.
A brief summary of the news report on the incident
Three nursing home employees were indicted in DeKalb County, Georgia earlier this week according to the AJC. One of the employees was charged with felony murder and neglect of an elder person. The other two employees were charged with offenses relating to neglect of an elder person. It must be stressed at this time that those charged have a presumption of innocence. The victim was an 89 year-old World War II veteran who, according to the report, was captured on surveillance video in respiratory distress and calling for help. This case has been in the news previously for the wrongful death civil lawsuit aspect of the incident.
Georgia criminal law on protection of elder persons
Georgia law has two main code sections dealing with crimes involving neglect and exploitation of elder persons. Both code sections outlined here involve criminal punishments of one (1) up to twenty (20) years in prison.
- O.C.G.A. § 16-5-101. Neglect to a disabled adult, elder person, or resident. Subsection (a) of this code section states: "[a] guardian or other person supervising the welfare of or having immediate charge, control, or custody of a disabled adult, elder person, or resident commits the offense of neglect to a disabled adult, elder person, or resident when the person willfully deprives a disabled adult, elder person, or resident of health care, shelter, or necessary sustenance to the extent that the health or well-being of such person is jeopardized."
O.C.G.A. § 16-5-101 is what appears to be the underlying basis for all of the charges in the indictment. It criminalizes (a) willful (b) deprivation (c) of an elder person (or disabled adult or resident) (d) of health care or shelter or sustenance (e) to the extent health or well-being is jeopardized. It appears from the story that the allegation involves willful deprivation of health care to the 89 year-old World War II veteran. The essence of this statute is deprivation.
- O.C.G.A. § 16-5-102. Exploitation and intimidation of disabled adults, elder persons, and residents; obstruction of investigation. This statute primarily addresses knowing and willful bad acts done towards elder persons (and disabled adults and residents), though it also criminalizes deprivation of essential services (and also has subsections addressing threats, intimidation, and obstruction). Subsection (a) of this code section states: "Any person who knowingly and willfully exploits a disabled adult, elder person, or resident, willfully inflicts physical pain, physical injury, sexual abuse, mental anguish, or unreasonable confinement upon a disabled adult, elder person, or resident, or willfully deprives of essential services a disabled adult, elder person, or resident shall be guilty of a felony. . ."
O.C.G.A. § 16-5-102 is often used by prosecutors when a person financially exploits an elder person or when a person does some bad act such as a physical or sexual assault on an elder person.
Both of these code sections have additional provisions including exceptions to liability, but the intent here is to provide a brief summary and comparison of the two statutes.
The felony murder aspect of the indictment
Georgia law at O.C.G.A. § 16-5-1 involves the crime of murder. "Malice murder" involves either an express deliberate intention to take a life or it can be implied when there is no provocation and circumstances show an abandoned and malignant heart. Again, this post is a brief summary on the law relating to the AJC news story. Malice murder is not the type of murder that will be at issue in this particular nursing home incident.
Also in O.C.G.A. § 16-5-1 is the crime of "felony murder." Felony murder is basically where a person, while in the commission of a felony, causes the death of another person. This appears to be the basis of the nursing home neglect indictment in DeKalb County, Georgia. Essentially, the argument by prosecutors will be that while committing the felony crime of neglect of an elder person the alleged perpetrator caused the death of the World War II veteran.
This Georgia case in DeKalb County while likely continue to receive media coverage for both the civil lawsuit and the criminal prosecution. Georgia nursing homes should be places of care and not abuse. Our elderly loved ones should live their last days with grace and dignity.
If you or a loved one have been injured or lost because of neglect or abuse in a nursing home or other care facility in metro Atlanta or anywhere in the State of Georgia, please contact Gwinnett County based nursing home abuse lawyer Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation.
Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.