From NASGA – Medication errors about in Nursing homes


Medication Errors Increasing in Nursing Homes

KVUE Defenders investigation uncovers an increase in Texas nursing home residents harmed by medication errors.

KVUE’s findings come after Sandy Martinez says her father, Paul Travio, is one of those residents impacted.

“We had noticed some behavior issues with him, and we couldn’t pinpoint what was going on because he started sundowning a lot. He wasn’t talkative anymore,” said Martinez.

A few months later, Travio’s daughter got a call from CVS Pharmacy indicating it was time to refill their father’s prescription for Sinemet, a medication to help treat Travio’s Parkinson’s disease.

She then checked with her father’s nursing home. “And it wasn’t until then that we had found out that he was not getting his medication properly.”

While the state cited Travio’s nursing home for medication errors in the past, his family couldn’t prove it this time. A KVUE Defenders investigation uncovered their concerns shed light into an increasing problem across the state.

Digging through state records, the KVUE Defenders uncovered state investigators cited Texas nursing homes 1,060 times for medication errors in 2011. In 2013, violations jumped by nearly 200 more.

Of those, staff giving residents ‘unnecessary drugs’ increased the most by more than 78 percent.

Earlier this year, AARP conducted a study on nursing home care across the country. It found Texas nursing homes inappropriately administer antipsychotic drugs to residents with no mental illness, nearly more than any other state in the country. Texas tied with Louisiana.

Full Article and Source:
Medication Errors Increasing in Nursing Home

From Ken Ditkowsky–why are Jewish congregants raising bail bond for Morris Esformes when his nursing homes regularly were cited for abuse/torture of the elderly?

Morris Esformes was recently indicted for $1 BILLION in medicare/medicaid fraud in Florida some years after the FBI order he divest himself of masses of nursing homes in California.  Recently, the Federal Court judge set no bail and yanked his passport and that of his son Philip Esformes, but read on below. Amazing, just amazing.  This predator regularly engaged in the mantra portion of “isolate, medicate, drain the estate and eliminate and cremate”. Finally the fed have taken action (thank you AIGs Holder and Lynch, thank you very much), but now Jewish congregants feel sorry for him?!?!
For certain, Federal prison will be a  cakewalk compared to what they do to the elderly in nursing homes across the nation–nursing homes like the ones he operated. A nursing home resident gets no visitors, the food is disgusting and not healthy, if you eat too slowly, they yank your teeth and put in a feeding tube (Alice Gore, Illinois, 99 years old), they isolate you from all or near all friends and family, and chemical and physical restraints are very common while the police, GALs and OPG do nothing to save you (Teichert, Cook County, Illinois).
Why isn’t this mainstream news in Chicago?  Why aren’t the Tribune and SunTimes following this case? When isn’t a $1 billion crime not newsworthy.  It for sure is combined with tons of fraud, deception, ruining peoples’ lives, and this one, even murder.  Narcotizing innocent elderly and disabled people to death.
From Ken Ditkowsky:
From: kenneth ditkowsky <>

Sent: Sunday, August 28, 2016 11:56 AM
Subject: Fool me once – shame on you. Fool me twice – shame on me

This morning I was informed that some respected members of the clergy were raising funds and committing hundreds of thousands of dollars for bond for Philip Esformes.   The fact that Esformes was being lionized by these clergymen was reprehensible to many who share the same religious designation as these clergymen.   We uniformly repudiate people who openly and notoriously are strangers to the truth, persons who prey on those who are vulnerable – such as children and the elderly, and those who practice pay to play politics.    We also condemn hypocrisy and all evil, except our own personal vices.
Each of us in heavily invested in the core values of America, the promulgation of good government, the protection of Liberty, Fidelity, and Justice.    We demand that YOU are loyal to RULE OF LAW and respect for your fellow citizens.
Periodically we are reminded that we also have some warts.   It is a struggle to not rationalize our personal shortcoming and justify pernicious conduct in our social, political, and judicial leaders.    Worse yet we consistently close our eyes to unpleasantness that we have to address.
The Philip Esformes theft and money laundering of a billion dollars in Medicare Fraud is reprehensible and no matter what his claimed religion or heritage is not a rallying point or excuse.   The profiteering known as ‘elder cleansing’ is beyond contempt and cannot be countenanced in a free society.    The ‘cover-up’ and attempted intimidation and extortion by lawyer disciplinary commission (including Jerome Larkin’s group IARDC) is pure terrorism.    From the reaction of the American Bar Association and the American Civil Liberties Union it appears that the 2nd oldest profession has been so intimidated that it has abandoned it function in American Democracy.    (NB – these civil rights organizations and others observed the ‘rape’ of the First Amendment by the Illinois Supreme Court, the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission **** and nodded their collective heads and buried them in the sand.)
Lawyers are expendable – but are the elderly and the vulnerable in society.   Articles appear in sundry publications that sound the alarm.   They appear to be ignored, to wit:

Covering Orthodox Judaism Since 2004

Also from Ken:

A NBC article had the following statement, to wit:
Esformes and his co-conspirators are alleged to have further enriched themselves by receiving kickbacks in order to steer Medicare beneficiaries to other health-care providers — including community mental health centers and home health-care providers — who also performed medically unnecessary treatments that were billed to Medicare and Medicaid, the office said.
“In order to hide the kickbacks from law enforcement, these kickbacks were often paid in cash, or were disguised as payments to charitable donations, payments for services and sham lease payments, court documents allege,” according to prosecutors.”
Just how deep does this scandal go?  Is Rabbi Levin who committed 2.2 million toward Esformes’ bail part of the problem?    What about the other rabbi’s involved in sucking up to Esformes?
From my limited investigation of the Esformes and Esformes type operations here in Chicago it is just about incredible for anyone with two ears, two eyes, and a scintilla of intelligence not to recognize the nefariousness thereof.   A learned individual – in my humble opinion – certainly would give no credibility to any exculpatory claim that either Philip or his 18 USCA 371 co-conspirators would or could offer.
I was taught as a very young person – fool me once – shame on you.  fool me twice – shame on me!    The fact that tainted money was given to very worthwhile charities does not cleanse the money or the act.   It certain does not turn Esformes into Robin Hood!

From Ken Ditkowsky–why does an aspiring states attorney need half a million dollars put in her campaign fund

first the article:

A half million dollars is less than three times what is required to be on the ballot as a Democratic Candidate for Judge in Cook County.    It is almost infinitely less than ********* spent to push ***** ****** aside for the nomination and with the ****** campaign planning on spending a Billion dollars to purchase the Presidency the half million dollars is nothing at all.
Such is the reason that protecting Jerome Larkin and his ilk is so important to the Political and Judicial Elite.   Without enforcers such as Larkin, lawyers and others would not be intimidated into silence.   Even the Supreme Court of Illinois is cowed into not crossing the line.   As an example – note that the ACLU, NAACP, Urban League, et al were not heard to utter a single protest when he and his local branch of the KKK  (IARDC) punished Lanre Amu for disclosing the very conflict of interest that Crain’s Chicago Business highlighted. They knew he mostly represented African immigrants and the poor so they pushed him away like a stray dog.    If you need more examples, note how the ABA, CBA, ISBA, ACLU, et al. came to our rescue when Larkin unilaterally determined that it was unethical to complain about Judicial corruption, elder cleansing, *****.    How much does it cost to run the IARDC/KKK here in Illinois?
There are important criminal enterprises that have to be protected if the current crowd, temporarily raping the estates of the elderly and the disabled  are to be able to continue their works.    Nursing homes, hospice facilities all designed to garner maximum public funds  – a billion dollars stolen by Philip Esformes – provide bigger opportunities. (Note the billion was in central Florida ONLY and it comprised only 30 nursing homes which the FBI seized–kudos to them–but dozens Esformes nursing homes and billions of fraud remains to add to the indictments of the Esformes and their banksters).
Ken Ditkowsky
From Joanne
The states attorneys, the OIG and the OIIG have to start doing something about the corruption in Illinois, it is out of control and the taxes on this criminal activity and fraud are not being collected. The miscreants rake in handfuls of cash from the US and Illinois governments under fraudulent schemes, and they use this to start and maintain a cottage industry in everything connected to it, from the probate/guardianship courts to the zoning board grabbing homes of stubborn elders who won’t sell for a reasonable price.  Zoning is changed, eminent domain proceedings are threatened or begun.
If the Feds and the States Attorneys won’t protect the hoi poli and the elderly and disabled, who will?  Certainly no one is protecting this blog.  No one is supporting attorneys speaking out against corruption, not the ABA, CBA, ISBA or any of the other dozen “clubs” or bar groups.  When it comes to a cover up, the historical mandate in Illinois is to look the other way and don’t get involved.

From Ken Ditkowsky–Jerome Larkin continues to hide behind false case law averments

The Zimmer letter is a shot heard round the world.    It is an Emperor has no clothes story all over again.    The statement he made is pedestrian however, the political correctness Elite have so dominated the University campuses that anyone that advances a radical idea  – such as a particular political candidate is wrong = is pilloried.   Independent thought is prohibited.
I sent out today the following message.    This situation here in Illinois has reached critical mass.   The Lanre Amu case sticks in my craw as I might have been susceptible to the propaganda and lies that were promulgated by Jerome Larkin.    Worse yet – all the organizations that should have had kittens not only were silent but were obstructionist.
The American principle of FREE SPEECH embodied in the FIRST AMENDMENT and ARTICLE 1 OF THE ILLINOIS CONSTITUTION OF 1970 is not dead.     Amazingly in an era in which one of the major political candidates for President has advocated amending the First Amendment to advance parochial agenda, and a Lawyer exposing judicial corruption is equated to yelling fire in a crowded theater  – with full approval of the Supreme Court of the Illinois and no protest from the American Bar Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, or any other professional or civil rights organization Chancellor Zimmer of the University of Chicago had the temerity and courage to write:
Free speech is the basis of a true education
Even more surprising Chancellor Zimmer was not publicly castigated by the mainstream media, the Political and Judicial Establishment or either the Presidential candidates.      The WSJ analysis of the event is:
The Chicago School of Free Speech
Of course everyone knows how radical the University of Chicago is and how they were in the forefront of one revolutionary concept after another.    The University’s School of Business is a notable example.
The world was not born 8 years ago, and most of us did not just fall off the turnip truck.     Zimmer’s revolution is also not new – what is new is the fact that so many of us and the rest of the citizenry have been so lax in allowing others to defend OUR rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America and the State Constitution.     When Jerome Larkin wrote the Illinois Supreme Court that JoAnne Denison’s blog exposing the grossest and most venal corruption in the Circuit Court of Cook County (and elsewhere) was akin to yelling Fire in a Crowded theater few of us raised a hue and cry demanding that Mr. Larkin be pilloried for his ISIL assault on the most precious of America’s core values.    The American Bar Association carried the story and demonstrated its distain for the RULE OF LAW when it censored the stream of comments abhorring Larkin’s and the Illinois Supreme Court’s demonstration of disrespect.     The loud silence of the 2ndoldest profession, civil rights organizations, political leaders et al was an American nadir.     
Unfortunately, as college campuses followed their National Socialist policy of political correction applauded by the Political and Judicial Establishment, few voices were heard in protest.    The cancer grew like Topsy and it was not long before silent efforts to limit opposition speech were being echoed as policy.    Mr. Larkin and the Illinois Lawyer Disciplinary Commission (IARDC) in the JoAnne Denison case and others had the temerity to actually fabricate opinions of the Supreme Court of the United States.     For instance, in the Alvarez case (wherein the defendant claimed to be a Medal of Honor recipient when in fact he was not) Larkin resurrected a rejected argument and represented that it was the Rule of Law in the case.    In the Sawyer case he just purged the last paragraph of the decision so as to misrepresent the holding.     The Supreme Court of Illinois abdicated its position and rubber stamped Larkin’s misrepresentations and aided and abetted him in the ‘cover up’ of Judicial corruption.     In the Amu case, even though Crain’s Chicago Business made the very same averments concerning corruption by Judge Egan, Amu was stamped as a ‘liar’ and disciplined for practicing law while Black.      Of course, political correctness advanced along racial lines to punish the appearance of not being a good Nazi!     Civil Rights icon Diane Nash was actually denied entry into the public hearing room in which a Kangaroo proceeding against JoAnne Denison was being held.   Ms. Nash’s crime – supporting Ms. Denison’s right to expose Judicial Corruption of a Judge who subsequently committed perjury and a judge who admitted on page 91 of her evidence deposition to being ‘wired’ (fixed etc.).   
Today’s action by Chancellor Zimmer in a perfect world would be footnote; however in today’s climate in which so many of our political and judicial elite lack a moral compass – it is a screaming headline.      It is also a call to arms!     It is time for each of us to pick up our computer keyboard, smart phone, or whatever and demand that the POLITICAL and JUDICIAL elite be governed by the very same laws and principles are YOU and ME.     This means we all against the proposition of today’s political and judicial elite that RIGHT is LEFT, UP is DOWN, TRUTH is FICTION.      It means that the miscreants both Rich and powerful as well as Meek are all subject to HONEST LAW ENFORCEMENT and the Elder Cleansing conspiracy has to not only account for the thefts from Medicare, the Insurance companies, and the victims of Elder Cleansing.     It means that the Elder Cleansing miscreants pay the taxes interest and penalties on the money and benefits that they obtained from their breaches of the fiduciary and public trust that they voluntarily assumed.

Where to complain about Court Corruption — OIIG – Cook County Office of the Independent Inspector General, Patrick Blanchard

General Complaints

If you have information concerning corruption, fraud, waste, mismanagement, and/or employee misconduct(whether it involves a violation of County policy, criminal law, or both) in the operation of Cook County government, we encourage you to file a complaint. This may include employees, elected and appointed officials in the performance of their official duties, as well as contractors and subcontractors doing or seeking to do business with Cook County government.

If your complaint involves unlawful political discrimination, please see here.

If you would like to report a political contact (Political Contact Log), please see here.

Complaints are submitted to the OIIG via:

  • ONLINE: Submit Complaint Online
  • FAX: (312) 603-9744
  • MAIL: 69 W. Washington Street, Suite 1160, Chicago, IL 60602
  • PRINT COMPLAINT FORM: A complaint form can be printed and completed for mail or fax submission OR call the Complaint Hotline to request one be sent to you.
  • COMPLAINT HOTLINE: 877-IGTIPLN (877-448-4756) or (312) 603-0745. Please be sure to speak slowly and clearly when leaving your information.
  • BY APPOINTMENT: to schedule an appointment to file a complaint in person call: (312) 603-0350

Please include as much information as possible in your complaint, as this assists with investigating the issue.

If you have questions regarding the OIIG or have any questions regarding a possible complaint involving Cook County government, please contact us and a Cook County OIIG Investigator will be in contact with you.

Urgent need. Kind man rendered homeless by fraud in probate needs housing

This poor man has been rendered homeless and just needs a place to sleep  He has a car and is on disability.  His homelessness comes directly from fraud on the court perpetrated on the 18th floor of the Daley Center.  He is clean, neat, very respectable and well spoken.

He is trying to save money for a probate attorney to represent him on $300k in fraud taken from his father’s estate.

Many of you have been there and know what this is like.  I hope you will consider helping him with your basement or spare room and I am sure he will be very helpful and a source of support to any other court corruption victims out there.

If you know of something, please email me at

The miscreants in probate know he is homeless and did this anyway.  Not a one of the attorneys or the judge showed any care or concern for him.  He was wrongfully evicted not once, but twice after he repaired his father’s properties.

Thank you all for being decent human beings and caring and knowing it is wrong to summarily evict a child in probate without due process.  I find it disgusting and sad.

The court didn’t care, the ARDC for sure doesn’t care about how coverups and fraud in Probate endanger the health, safety and welfare of Illinois citizens.  We must clean up this mess.

No one in probate should be evicted summarily and without being  provided housing assistance. This is horrible, absolutely horrible.

From NASGA – Amicable divorce turns into Guardianship nightmare

Courtroom trauma: Amicable divorce turned to guardianship nightmare

Posted: 21 Aug 2016 11:00 PM PDT

When Cindy Hausburg filed for divorce in May 2013, she never envisioned that two years later she would be sitting before three members of a medical examining committee, trying to convince them that she knew how to tell the time of day.

Nor did she expect that a professional guardian would change her medications and the locks on her house. Or that her legal separation from her husband would morph into a bewildering fight to regain control of her own life. Or that guardians and attorneys would wind up billing her for some $125,000 in fees and costs.

After all, as divorces go, the Hausburgs’ was a familiar scenario: Children out of the nest, not enough in common anymore. Except for some tension over money, they expected a fairly amicable parting.

“We hadn’t been living in the same house for two years,” recalls Cindy Hausburg, 59. “But we were never enemies. We had a wonderful life with the kids.”

But three years after starting the process, the longtime Sarasota couple are not yet divorced. Instead, Cindy and Jon Hausburg find themselves united once more, in a legal struggle they both find baffling — even though he is an attorney himself.

“Honestly, if anything, this has brought us closer than we’ve been in years,” says Jon Hausburg, 64. “Ironically, all this nonsense has put us on the same side.”

The pinnacle of irony was perhaps reached early last December: At a divorce mediation session, four attorneys representing Cindy Hausburg and her two successive guardians sat down with Jon Hausburg and his divorce attorney, and — according to a draft settlement agreement filed in court — offered to hand over control of the wife’s property and medical care to her estranged husband, in exchange for $64,500 to be divided up among them.

In other words, after nearly 30 years of marriage, Jon Hausburg was given a chance to buy back the civil rights that a Florida court had taken from Cindy Hausburg, so that they could proceed to finalize their divorce.

“It was like I was a slave or a prostitute,” Cindy Hausburg says now. “I was put on the bidding block. They saw my property, and there’s only $163,000 left of my marital assets. They weren’t the least bit interested in me at all.”

As it turned out, the proposed settlement was never consummated, and Cindy Hausburg had her rights fully restored at a hearing on May 5. It appears likely that a new court monitor program — instituted in Sarasota County after a series of stories in the Herald-Tribune about Florida’s troubled guardianship system — played a role in this outcome.

But the wrangling over guardianship and attorney fees continues, in what might be one of the most puzzling cases ever to befall an adult ward in the state of Florida.

Hardly routine

When a spouse involved in a divorce is unable to make decisions because of frailty or cognitive impairment, it is not unusual for a court-appointed guardian to act for that person in legal proceedings.

But Cindy Hausburg’s year of guardianship — begun with her consent and then continued against her will — reflects an entirely new twist on the law, according to specialists in the field.

“I can honestly say I have not heard of that,” says Bernard A. Krooks, a New York elder law attorney considered a national expert in special needs planning. “That’s a first.”

The guardianship statute was designed to protect Floridians who lack capacity, because of age or infirmity, to make important decisions about money, relationships, employment, medical care, housing or even who they think should be the next president. Anyone can petition the court to remove an individual’s freedom to determine his or her own destiny. Most adult guardianships involve wards so cognitively impaired by a brain injury or progressive dementia that they need someone else to safeguard them from fraud, abuse or self-harm.

But critics say this legal system, easily set in motion and difficult to derail, often ignores basic civil rights. Much of it plays out in secret, to protect the ward’s privacy. When a ward has money, the system has built-in incentives for guardians and attorneys to pay themselves more than they otherwise might. And even after recent efforts to add state oversight, family members and friends of wards still complain of a routine process where professional guardians sell off elders’ property, and move them from familiar surroundings to institutions where they decline and die. Guardianship activists have a chilling description for this sequence: “liquidate, isolate, medicate.”

Cindy Hausburg’s case is hardly routine. While she has been treated for anxiety and depression, she does not begin to fit the description of an elder with irreversible dementia. While she had little understanding of what a legal guardianship is, she says, she was cleared by a medical doctor to enter into that status of her own free will.

Several months after hiring a new attorney in October 2014 to revive divorce talks that had faltered, she voluntarily placed her property under the guardianship of Lutheran Services Florida, a nonprofit agency that serves both indigent wards and those with the means to pay $85 an hour.

“In early March 2015,” Cindy Hausburg said in a sworn affidavit submitted to the court, her divorce attorney “described the voluntary guardianship as a ‘crash course’ in finances to help manage my money based on the pending resolution of my divorce. Her reasoning, as explained to me, was since I had been a homemaker for over 25 years that this guardianship would teach me how best to invest my money, how to shop around for the best and affordable insurances such as car, medical, home, etc. None of this was ever done.”

That attorney, Melinda Delpech of the Band Law Group in Sarasota, says everyone working on Cindy Hausburg’s behalf acted with good intentions. But, she adds, “I think the system is flawed and was never designed to provide the kind of assistance that people suffering with certain mental illnesses require.”

In 25 years of practicing family law, Delpech says, she has only twice recommended that clients consider arranging for professional guardians to manage their property.

Barbara Palmer of Bradenton filed a petition for voluntary guardianship in December 2012, expecting, she recalls, the same kind of help.

Delpech’s work on Palmer’s behalf in family law court impressed a young woman who happened to be assisting in the case on the opposing side: Cindy Hausburg’s eldest daughter Heather, who says she referred her mother to Delpech.

Palmer, now 62, has not been able to determine how much she paid for the two and a half years she spent under guardianship, and Manatee County court documents regarding wards are confidential. But she says she did not find the experience worthwhile: “I decided I no longer needed this person managing my finances; I certainly know how much I owe and what I’m doing to rid myself of debts.”
While it took until April 2015 to reach a final settlement with her former husband, Palmer says she was released from the voluntary guardianship at her request, in May 2014.

In the following year, Cindy Hausburg would not be disentangled from her own arrangement so easily.

‘Sign me up’

Her husband Jon remembers his reaction when he heard his wife had acquired a guardian.
“I was told that she went into this thing because she wanted a crash course in finances, and they were going to teach her how to get Blue Cross and auto and help her with her bills, because she was not good with money,” he says. “I was told it was $85 an hour. I thought, ‘The girl’s got seven bills; it’s three or four hours a month. Yeah, sign me up.’ Little did I know that they were billing her $7,000 a month to do this.”

Four months later, however, a petition was filed in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court to have his wife declared incapacitated and remove all her civil rights. The petition was signed by Elizabeth Carlson, who Cindy Hausburg says worked on her divorce case for Delpech as a forensic accountant. Carlson has not responded to a voicemail from the Herald-Tribune requesting comment.

“I did not initiate — nor did I ask anyone else to initiate — the involuntary guardianship of Ms. Hausburg,” Delpech says. “With the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that this was not the right solution to the problem.”

Carlson submitted a document with her petition in July 2015 describing Cindy Hausburg as a “forty-seven-year-old woman” who was unable to make “appropriate” financial decisions and was not properly taking her medications. She “frequently pays bills her Guardian has already paid leaving no funds for her necessary expenses,” the document claimed, and she “miss’s appointments even when reminded.”

What happened next should not have happened, guardianship attorneys who agreed to discuss the case have said.

On Sept. 3, 2015, the court-appointed lawyer who represented Cindy Hausburg, Robert “Tad” Drean, and the lawyer for Lutheran Services appeared before Judge Charles Williams and told him that they would file a written stipulation regarding her incapacity if he would sign the orders to declare her incapacitated and appoint a new guardian with power over her medical and legal decisions as well as her finances.

“The stipulation actually just got executed on the doorsteps of the courthouse, so to speak,” Drean told the judge, according to a transcript of the hearing. “And so I’ll be — I’ll be filing it the moment I — return to my office, your honor.”

Asked to comment for this story, Drean requested questions in writing, then said in an email that he could not answer them because of “ethical duties, confidentiality issues, and attorney-client privilege.”

The stipulation, filed after Cindy Hausburg’s incapacity hearing, quoted medical examiners’ reports that “Her well being is in jeopardy because she does not keep doctor appointments;” “There is evidence that Cindy has been very careless with her money; and “Potential for exploitation is present.” The document also includes a handwritten addendum entitling Lutheran Services and its attorney “to be paid from the assets of the guardianship estate.”

Cindy Hausburg was not present in court that day. She says Drean advised her against it.

“He said, ‘If you go, I will not be able to obtain as many rights for you,’” she says. “So of course I’m not going to go and lose more.”

Krooks, the New York guardianship attorney, says wards may sometimes be advised to remain silent at their incapacity hearings, but always have the right to attend them.

“How do you have a guardian appointed without them being a party to the process?” he asks. “None of this makes sense. To have a guardian appointed for someone who has capacity, and then turn around and say that client lacks capacity, makes no sense to me.”

Jon Hausburg says he first heard about the petition to have his wife declared incapacitated when he was in North Carolina helping one of his four daughters with a move. She got a frantic call from her sister Heather.

“Have you looked at your email?” he remembers his eldest daughter saying. “They’re trying to commit Mom!”

The babysitters

To Cindy Hausburg, the view from inside her guardianship process appeared — well, crazy.

“They had a psychiatrist, a social worker and a nurse,” she says of the examining committee. “All three of them asked me to count back from 100 by sevens, and they threw out three words and later said, ‘What were the three words?’ And, ‘Draw a clock and make it 10 after four.’ And I said, ‘Do you want dots on the clock? Arabic numbers, Roman numerals, what?’ And after all that, they wrote that I was bipolar and had a tendency to spend too much money.”

As for the claim that she was double-paying bills, she wonders how that could even be possible after the guardianship began, because she had no money. Her husband paid a monthly allowance directly into her guardian’s account.

Once the new guardian had charge of her medical decisions, Hausburg says, home health “babysitters” came to her house daily.

“It was $25 an hour, 12 hours every day,” she recalls. “They didn’t do anything; they sat around watching TV and talking to me. They started messing around with my medication and it was making me loopy. I had been on the same meds for four years, and they cold-turkeyed me off of them.”

Because her guardian failed to pay the home health bills — unaffordable, given the amount of monthly support she receives from her husband — that account has been turned over to a collections agency, Cindy Hausburg says.

“My credit was 730 before they took it over,” she maintains. “It’s below 300 now.”

In October, after she missed an exit on Interstate 75 and ran out of gas, her guardian arranged for her to check into a detox program in Tampa, although Cindy Hausburg insists she has no alcohol or drug problem. Jon Hausburg said he agreed to pay the $10,000 a month — “I said, if that’s what she needs, yes” — and drove her to the clinic.

After a two-hour interview, both Hausburgs say, they were told the program was not appropriate for her. So Jon Hausburg drove his wife back to her Bradenton home, he says, to find her guardian’s assistant parked in the driveway and a locksmith changing all the locks.

Like other Florida wards before her, Cindy Hausburg believes she was treated with less fairness than criminals receive in court.

“At least they can stand up and say guilty or not guilty; I didn’t even get to say crazy or not crazy,” she says with a laugh. “They don’t want the family knowing that they’re trying to make you cuckoo with medications so they can justifiably lock you up, and then come in and change all the locks on your home. And I was charged $900 for that!”

Of all the attorneys working on her case, she says, only Drean talked to her. Repeatedly, according to his billing statements filed with the court, she asked him to intervene with her guardian.

“I finally got to get my Xanax back, at least,” she says. “Then I had to tell the caregivers, ‘Oh, you need to call your supervisor so you can get the code to the lockbox so you can give me my medication. And then you need to fill out this form about what we did today.’”

Discovery process

Drean proved to be an atypical court-appointed guardianship attorney in two ways. First, these attorneys rarely have any contact with wards once the hearing process is concluded. While an attorney for the guardian continues to be paid from a ward’s assets, the ward no longer legally has anyone to speak for him or her except the guardian.

“The role of the court-appointed attorney ends when the guardian is appointed,” explains Krooks, the New York elder law attorney.

Also unusual was the amount of interest Drean took in Cindy Hausburg’s divorce case. According to fee petitions filed in court, of the $30,165 he has billed so far, at least $8,337.50 is directly attributed to divorce issues such as discovery of Jon Hausburg’s assets, and work on the proposed financial settlement. This was at the same time that Melinda Delpech was billing for her work on the same issues — for a total of just over $45,000 so far.

In fact, Delpech’s and Drean’s billing statements show entries totaling at least $2,000 worth of billings for communicating exclusively with each other.

“The judge appointed various professionals to serve specific roles in the involuntary guardianship,” Delpech says. “I had no choice but to work with them. … I was very cognizant about the mounting attorney and other professional fees throughout the case and was vocal throughout the process about trying to rein them in.”

One issue that commanded attention from both Delpech and Drean, according to their fee petitions, was the effort to determine Jon Hausburg’s assets — a routine quest for a divorce attorney but not for a court-appointed ward’s representative. A lengthy discovery process, he says, revealed that his multimillion-dollar family inheritance was not part of the Hausburgs’ joint marital property. At this point, Cindy Hausburg had about $163,000 coming to her in the divorce, aside from her house and alimony expectations.

In November, Drean asked the court to consolidate the two cases — guardianship and divorce — in the interests of “judicial economy.” His motion mentioned a divorce mediation conference scheduled for December with Jon Hausburg, along with Delpech and attorneys for Cindy Hausburg’s first and second guardians.

One question to be resolved — after it was clear that Cindy Hausburg could not expect a million-dollar divorce settlement — was how all these attorneys and guardians might be paid.

Melton Little, Jon Hausburg’s divorce attorney, says the proposal that emerged from that Dec. 2 conference — to make his client the guardian of his future ex-wife in exchange for an agreement on fees — represents the kind of “out-of-box thinking” that such mediations are meant to encourage.
The deal was one way, he argues, to resolve a case that was getting out of hand.

“I’ve never seen one take on a life of its own like this one,” he says. “I’m not faulting anybody for what happened. I just think the case got enormously expensive and enormously litigated.”

But Jon Hausburg says the proposal was sparked by an offhand comment he made to express his dismay — both at the number of people who showed up for the mediation, and the fees they were demanding.

“Until that mediation in December, I had no idea that they were racking up that kind of money,” he says. “I said, ‘I’d be a better guardian than you; at least I’m free.’ The next thing I know, they’re actually taking me up on it. When they realized that the money was going to stop because I was going nuts, suddenly she didn’t need so much attention and they were willing to turn her over to me.”
‘Not a cocktail party’

The unusual settlement effort came to nothing. One snag appears to have been the proposed cap on fees; another was Cindy Hausburg’s refusal to sign releases that some attorneys reportedly wanted. But a turning point in the case came early this year, after the Herald-Tribune reported on state Sen. Nancy Detert’s bill to reform the guardianship process.

Cindy Hausburg happened to see the January story online, and wrote in the comments section about her predicament. Her plea was read by William Eppley and Pam Vergara, Brooksville attorneys who had represented a client in another Sarasota guardianship case profiled in the Herald-Tribune. In March, Eppley entered the Hausburg divorce case on behalf of Jon Hausburg.

Soon afterward, Cindy Hausburg filed her own petition to have her rights restored, called a “suggestion of capacity.” Drean’s billing records indicate that he had been working on a restoration of rights for her, but he never filed it. Instead he asked Judge Williams to appoint a court monitor to investigate the guardianship, citing negotiations that had “dragged on for months” along with “the complexities of the matter, Mrs. Hausburg’s dissatisfaction with her prior temporary guardian, her current limited guardian, her divorce attorney, and her court-appointed counsel.”

Williams designed the court monitor program, partly in response to a Herald-Tribune series examining the guardianship process, as a way of ensuring “that not one person slips through the cracks.” This is the first year of its existence, and the experiment appears to have had an impact in this case: Less than a month after monitor Dana Yawn submitted her confidential report, at a May 5 hearing Williams made restoring Cindy Hausburg’s rights his first order of the session — even though it was not among the topics set for discussion that day.

“OK,” he said after this swift action. “That takes care of the suggestion of competency, so what do you want to do next?”

With nine attorneys in the courtroom and one on the telephone — several of them asking to abandon a case that had spiraled out of control — the hearing was at times a chaotic affair. “This is not a cocktail party,” Williams said at one point, when Cindy Hausburg’s sister stood and attempted to speak.

The guardianship was suddenly, effectively at an end, and the divorce proceeding was in limbo. What remained to be hashed out — and still remains before the court — was whether Jon Hausburg should be held liable for all the fees that piled up during his wife’s yearlong experience as a ward of the court.

Delpech, who had asked for a decision on a motion to be paid for her work on the protracted divorce case, so she could withdraw as Cindy Hausburg’s lawyer, expressed little hope that her issues would take precedence.

“Melton Little and I got kind of pushed into this guardianship proceeding because we were trying to get these folks divorced with this going on in the background,” she told the court, “and it turned out to be the foreground and the divorce is the background.”

Little, the lawyer on the speakerphone, also seeking permission to withdraw as soon as his client found another family law attorney, summed up the level of confusion that had begun as an apparent effort to help a divorcing homemaker learn some financial skills.

“We got in this case as family law attorneys, and I think we did a pretty decent job helping the parties reach some agreement,” Little said. “The problem has been the amount of the fees and costs incurred in the guardianship proceedings and whether those fees and costs are going to be borne by one, both, or either of the parties in the divorce case. And that’s the problem, and that’s why at this point, it’s just over my head.”

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Courtroom trauma: Amicable divorce turned to guardianship nightmare