Submitted by Pablo Retana on September 22, 2014 16:18
A paid caregiver hired through an agency cannot sue an Alzheimer’s disease patient for injuries sustained while caring for that patient, as long as the home health aide has been warned of any risks – which he or she would voluntarily assume – and the injuries are inflicted as a result of symptoms of the condition. This is the ruling that the California Supreme Court reached last month in a 5 to 2 vote. “Those hired to manage a hazardous condition may not sue their clients for injuries caused by the very risks they were retained to confront,” Justice Carole A. Corrigan wrote. “If a patient injures a caregiver by engaging in the combative behavior symptomatic of Alzheimer’s disease, the ‘particular risk of harm that caused the injury’ was among the very risks the caregiver was hired to prevent.”
The decision came as the resolution of a lawsuit filed by healthcare worker Carolyn Gregory against Bernard and Lorraine Cott of West Los Angeles. In 2005, Bernard hired Gregory through an agency to care for his 85 year old wife at home, as well as tend to the house. Flash-forward to 2008 when Lorraine bumped Gregory from behind while the latter was doing the dishes; during the clash, Gregory’s wrist was cut by a knife she’d been washing. Her lawyer said that she lost feeling in a thumb and two fingers and developed constant pain in her wrist and hand. In addition to getting workers’ compensation, the home health worker sued the couple for negligence and premises liability, and for battery. Since the Cotts both passed away last year, the case was defended by their homeowner insure.