The Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act

("EADACPA" pronounced ee-dak-pa)

[Daily Journal Jan. 13, 1992 article, profiling Hankin's role in the enactment of EADACPA]

[NOTE from the Law Offices of Marc B. Hankin:  See paragraphs (h) and (i) below, which were added in 1992, when the Legislature and Governor Wilson enacted those provisions, along with sections 15657 through 15657.3, as proposed by Mr. Hankin.]

Welfare And Institutions Code 15600.

(a) The Legislature recognizes that elders and dependent adults may be subjected to abuse, neglect, or abandonment and that this state has a responsibility to protect these persons.

(b) The Legislature further recognizes that a significant number of these persons are elderly. The Legislature desires to direct special attention to the needs and problems of elderly persons, recognizing that these persons constitute a significant and identifiable segment of the population and that they are more subject to risks of abuse, neglect, and abandonment.

(c) The Legislature further recognizes that a significant number of these persons have developmental disabilities and that mental and verbal limitations often leave them vulnerable to abuse and incapable of asking for help and protection.

(d) The Legislature recognizes that most elders and dependent adults who are at the greatest risk of abuse, neglect, or abandonment by their families or caretakers suffer physical impairments and other poor health that place them in a dependent and vulnerable position.

(e) The Legislature further recognizes that factors which contribute to abuse, neglect, or abandonment of elders and dependent adults are economic instability of the family, resentment of caretaker responsibilities, stress on the caretaker, and abuse by the caretaker of drugs or alcohol.

(f) The Legislature declares that this state shall foster and promote community services for the economic, social, and personal well-being of its citizens in order to protect those persons described in this section.

(g) The Legislature further declares that uniform state guidelines, which specify when county adult protective service agencies are to investigate allegations of abuse of elders and dependent adults and the appropriate role of local law enforcement is necessary in order to ensure that a minimum level of protection is provided to elders and dependent adults in each county.

(h) The Legislature further finds and declares that infirm elderly persons and dependent adults are a disadvantaged class, that cases of abuse of these persons are seldom prosecuted as criminal matters, and few civil cases are brought in connection with this abuse due to problems of proof, court delays, and the lack of incentives to prosecute these suits.

(i) Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this chapter to provide that adult protective services agencies, local long-term care ombudsman programs, and local law enforcement agencies shall receive referrals or complaints from public or private agencies, from any mandated reporter submitting reports pursuant to Section 15630, or from any other source having reasonable cause to know that the welfare of an elder or dependent adult is endangered, and shall take any actions considered necessary to protect the elder or dependent adult and correct the situation and ensure the individual's safety.

(j) It is the further intent of the Legislature in adding Article 8.5 (commencing with Section 15657*) to this chapter to enable interested persons to engage attorneys to take up the cause of abused elderly persons and dependent adults.

[NOTE:  Section 15657 "enables interested persons to engage attorneys" to handle these cases, by requiring solvent victimizers to pay the victim's attorneys fees.   Section 15657 enables lawyers to handle these cases by allowing for the recovery of monetary damages for the victim's suffering, even if the victim dies before the trial is concluded; in this case.  The victim's heirs inherit the award.  Making victimizers pay for the harm they inflict deters misconduct.]



Welfare And Institutions Code 15657.

Where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that a defendant is liable for physical abuse as defined in Section 15610.63, neglect as defined in Section 15610.57, or fiduciary abuse as defined in Section 15610.30, and that the defendant has been guilty of recklessness, oppression, fraud, or malice in the commission of this abuse, in addition to all other remedies otherwise provided by law:

(a) The court shall award to the plaintiff reasonable attorney's fees and costs. The term "costs" includes, but is not limited to, reasonable fees for the services of a conservator, if any, devoted to the litigation of a claim brought under this article.

(b) The limitations imposed by Section 337.34 of the Code of Civil Procedure on the damages recoverable shall not apply. However, the damages recovered shall not exceed the damages permitted to be recovered pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 3333.2 of the Civil Code.

(c) The standards set forth in subdivision (b) of Section 3294 of the Civil Code regarding the imposition of punitive damages on an employer based upon the acts of an employee shall be satisfied before any damages or attorney's fees permitted under this section may be imposed against an employer.

Welfare And Institutions Code 15657.1.

The award of attorney's fees pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 15657 shall be based on all factors relevant to the value of the services rendered, including, but not limited to, the factors set forth in Rule 4-200 of the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of California, and all of the following:

(a) The value of the abuse-related litigation in terms of the quality of life of the elder or dependent adult, and the results obtained.

(b) Whether the defendant took reasonable and timely steps to determine the likelihood and extent of liability.

(c) The reasonableness and timeliness of any written offer in compromise made by a party to the action.

Welfare And Institutions Code 15657.2.

Notwithstanding this article, any cause of action for injury or damage against a health care provider, as defined in Section 340.5 of the Code of Civil Procedure, based on the health care provider's alleged professional negligence, shall be governed by those laws which specifically apply to those professional negligence causes of action.

Welfare And Institutions Code 15657.3.

(a) The department of the superior court having jurisdiction over probate conservatorships shall also have concurrent jurisdiction over civil actions and proceedings involving a claim for relief arising out of the abduction, as defined in Section 15610.06, or the abuse of an elderly or dependent adult, if a conservator has been appointed for plaintiff prior to the initiation of the action for abuse.

(b) The department of the superior court having jurisdiction over probate conservatorships shall not grant relief under this article if the court determines that the matter should be determined in a civil action, but shall instead transfer the matter to the general civil calendar of the superior court. The court need not abate any proceeding for relief pursuant to this article if the court determines that the civil action was filed for the purpose of delay.

(c) The death of the elder or dependent adult does not cause the court to lose jurisdiction of any claim for relief for abuse of an elder or dependent adult.

(d) Upon petition, after the death of the elder or dependent adult, the right to maintain an action shall be transferred to the personal representative of the decedent, or if none, to the person or persons entitled to succeed to the decedent's estate.