- Eric HolderUS Attorney General
Investigate Elder Abuse & Exploitation - A Letter To Attorney General Holder On Behalf of Lula Baity
In October 2003, Lula Baity, then 86 years of age, became the victim of elder abuse and exploitation. She was forcefully and involuntarily taken from her apartment of some forty years at the Buffalo Municipal Perry Projects Housing Complex after a case worker at the complex, pretending to be Lula's social worker, falsely made allegations to Erie County Crisis Services that Ms. Baity was confused and disoriented, talking rapidly with little content, not taking care of herself, not paying rent, and refusing to see a doctor.
Over Ms. Baity’s protest, and having been forcefully and involuntarily taken from her apartment, in the presence of numerous neighbors and onlookers, a fearful and shaken Lula Baity, was strapped to a gurney and transported by ambulance to Erie County Medical Center (“ECMC”) and admitted through the emergency room with a purported diagnosis of “unable to care for herself.”
On the tenth day of her involuntary confinement, a doctor at ECMC transferred Lula to a nursing home (without court order or legal authority) where she was then confined to a locked third-floor dementia unit and forcefully administered daily doses of a psychotropic medication, Risperdal. Also, while confined at Grace Manor Nursing Home, Lula was forced to undergo physically intrusive medical procedures upon her person that were highly invasive, including, among other things, daily enemas and suppositories and the totally unnecessary and forced dental/surgical extraction of three (3) of her teeth.
Upon the efforts of Ms. Baity’s niece, Carmen Britt, and her attorney Richard L. Baumgarten, Esq., a Writ of Habeas Corpus Petition was filed in New York State Supreme Court, and on January 10, 2004, Lula won her freedom and returned to her home.
The traumatic ordeal left Ms. Baity with a diagnosed emotional Anxiety Disorder making it impossible for her to put that experience behind her and live free from continuous and constant fear of again being removed from her home in the unlawful and uncaring manner that she was.
Lula’s quest to obtain justice through the courts fell through the cracks. Delay tactics prevented the case from moving. Ms. Baity passed on May 9, 2006. There is no more truth to the old solemn that “Justice delayed, is Justice denied.” Ms. Baity did not live to have her day in court or an opportunity to tell her story to a jury of her peers.
Elder abuse is an under recognized problem with devastating and even life threatening consequences. Elder abuse can occur anywhere – in the home, in nursing homes, or other institutions, including within the courts. It affects seniors across all socio-economic groups, cultures, and races. Based on available information, women and “older” elders are more likely to be victimized, as is shown in Lula Baity’s situation.
All are encouraged to sign the Petition in support of our elder citizens and on behalf of Lula Baity asking that Attorney General Holder conduct an investigation into the violation of Ms. Baity’s civil rights, as well as to investigate the inadequacies that exist in the current system at its most critical juncture where decisions are made and actions taken which affects a seniors liberty and right to self-determination and, there from, to establish procedural safeguards in order to prevent the injustice as has occurred here in the tragic case of Lula Baity from recurring to similarly situated elders.
- US Attorney General
As United States Attorney General and Chief Officer responsible for the enforcement and protection of individual civil rights, we, the signatories of this Petition, request that your office initiate an investigation into the circumstances involving the removal of eighty-six (86) year old Ms. Lula Baity from her home and involuntarily confining her against her will to a hospital/nursing home for one hundred and two (102) days. In addition, we ask for an investigation into the inadequacies that exist in the current system at its most critical juncture where decisions are made and actions taken which affects our Elders liberty and right to self-determination and, there from, to establish procedural safeguards in order to prevent the injustice that has occurred here in the tragic case of Ms. Baity from recurring to similarly situated Elders.
The plight of Ms. Baity, an African-American woman, began when she was 86 years old, and involves an outrageous and egregious case of elder abuse and violation of her civil and constitutional rights perpetrated by several individuals who are named as defendants in a civil rights lawsuit brought by Ms. Baity and pending in the United States District Court, Western District of New York, before federal judges, William M. Skrenty, District Judge, and H. Kenneth Schoeder, Magistrate Judge, both of whom [by their very actions] have patently sanctioned the egregious violation of Ms. Baity rights.
The facts, which are supported by excerpts of Ms. Baity’s live video-taped deposition testimony and official court documents which can be reviewed at http://baity-v-bmha-et-al.com, are briefly stated below as follows:
On September 29, 2003, Ms. Baity, then eighty-six (86) years of age, went to the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority Rental Office to discuss an issue regarding a money order which had been returned to her because it was of an insufficient amount to pay her September rent. Although the monthly rental fee was One Hundred and Eighty-Eight ($188.00) Dollars, Lula provided a money order in the amount of One Hundred Dollars and Eighty-Eight Cents ($100. 88). A manager, Ms. Elaine Garbe, stated to Lula that the money order was of an insufficient amount to cover the total amount of her rent payment, and Ms. Baity explained that the corner store had apparently made an error with the money order amount. Ms. Garbe directed her subordinate, Ms. Jeri Giwa, a BMHA case management worker, to contact Family Services and Ms. Baity’s family (family contacts are listed in BMHA records) so as to insure that Ms. Baity would have assistance in resolving the money order matter.
The next day, on Tuesday, September 30, 2003, Ms. Giwa, rather than contacting Family Services and Ms. Baity’s family as she was instructed to do, so as to insure that Ms. Baity would have assistance in resolving the money order issue, instead, telephoned Erie County Crisis Services and falsely and fraudulently represented that she was Lula’s “social worker” and reported that Ms. Baity “was increasingly confused and disoriented and was talking rapidly with little content.” Ms. Giwa further reported that “Ms. Baity was not taking care of herself, not paying rent, refusing to see a doctor, and that her house was very cluttered.” Lastly, Ms. Giwa, although possessing actual knowledge of the names, addresses and telephone numbers of Ms. Baity’s family members through BMHA records, did not disclose such information to Crisis Services.
Based upon Ms. Giwa’s representations, twenty-four (24) hours later, on October 1, 2003, a Crisis Service worker, Ms. Jill Stadelmeyer, prepared a “Request to Take Mentally Ill Person into Custody” and she and Ms. Giwa arranged for Lula to be taken into custody. Ms. Stadelmeyer did not take a brief investigative history to validate the allegations, nor to authenticate Ms. Giwa’s representations or credentials as Ms. Baity’s “social worker”, which she was not.
Ms. Giwa’s false representations and false statements set into motion a chain of events which not only led to Lula’s involuntary removal from her home but, also, resulted in Ms. Baity’s subsequent 120-day period of involuntary confinement as more fully discussed below.
On October 1, 2003, Ms. Giwa and Ms. Stadelmeyer, accompanied by BMHA Police Officers went to Ms. Baity’s apartment and upon gaining entrance to the apartment, Ms. Giwa, physically, seized Ms. Baity by grabbing hold of her arm in an effort to force her from the apartment. As Ms. Baity attempted to resist by trying to pull away, Ms. Giwa threatened that police would arrest her if she continued to resist and not accompany her out of the apartment.
After having been forcefully removed from her apartment, Lula, fearful and shaken, was strapped to a gurney and transported by ambulance to the Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) where she arrived in a hypertensive state and with a rapid heartbeat, and involuntarily admitted medically (versus psychiatrically) through the emergency room (designated as an “emergency involuntary hospitalization”) with a purported diagnosis of “unable to care for herself” due to dementia, high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation.
Ms. Baity remained confined at Erie County Medical Center for ten (10) days after which she was then involuntarily transferred to a nursing home.
New York State and federal law provide mandated procedures which must be followed in all situations involving the involuntary confinement and/or hospitalization of any citizen. In the case of Lula, all persons and agencies involved in her involuntary confinement openly and readily admitted that no legal procedures, whatsoever, had been followed regarding her involuntary confinement. N.Y. Mental Hygiene Law § 9.39 mandates the due process notice procedures a hospital or physician must provide an alleged mentally incapacitated person upon involuntarily confining such person. Such procedures include: (a) Written notice, (b) Notification must immediately be given to Mental Hygiene Legal Services, who may request a hearing which must be held no later than five days after the request is received, (c) Written notice must also be given to the patient's nearest [known] relative, and up to three additional persons designated by the patient, no later than five days after admission. In addition, Mental Hygiene Law §9.27(f) which provides:
“[F]ollowing admission to a hospital, no patient may be sent to
another hospital or facility by any form of involuntary admission
unless the mental hygiene legal services has been given notice thereof.”
In spite of their legal obligations, Dr. Phillip Rados and his staff at ECMC did not follow any procedure in regards to Ms. Baity, including the transfer of her to a nursing home. In fact, Ms. Anne Carberry Priore, the principal Attorney for Mental Hygiene Legal Services, has confirm that doctors at ECMC failed to give her legal agency notice concerning Ms. Baity’s involuntary confinement at that hospital, and also failed to give notice of Ms. Baity’s involuntary transfer to GRACE MANOR Nursing Home.
Ms. Baity’s confinement at the nursing home was also improper because N.Y. Mental Hygiene Law § 81.02[a] mandate that a Nursing Home commence a judicial guardianship proceeding with respect to the placement or admission of any alleged “incapacitated person.”
When Ms. Baity and her niece – Ms. Carmen Britt, requested of Grace Manor’s staff that Ms. Baity not be involuntarily admitted, Ms. Britt was threatened with arrest and Ms. Baity hauled away.
Grace Manor’s purported reason for its action(s) was that in its staffs’ opinion, Ms. Baity suffered with a mental illness such as “Advanced Dementia” which rendered her mentally incapacitated, unable to function in society on her own, unable to understand the admission agreement, unable to truly understand her needs, because … she had a cognitive deficit, and [was] severely impaired from decision-making ability or her decisions were very poor.
In fact, a physician at Grace Manor, Teresa Chau, M.D., at her deposition on February 27, 2007, testified that she, in fact: (i) had no recollection of having any contact with Ms. Baity; (ii) had no recollection of conducting any testing of Ms. Baity; (iii) that no medical record(s) existed of her [Dr. Chau] having examined Ms. Baity; and (iv) that her [Dr. Chau] reason for signing a Social Security form purporting that Ms. Baity suffered with “Advanced Dementia” was that she was asked to do so by Grace Manor’s Administration.
While confined at Grace Manor, Ms. Baity was subjected to numerous unwanted, objected to, and unnecessary medical procedures, including administered daily, long-term, the psychotropic medication, Risperdal. The NYS Department of Health, after conducting an investigation into Grace Manor’s use of Risperdal on Ms. Baity, determined there was no medical basis for giving Ms. Baity that drug and sanctioned Grace Manor.
Victor Patnella, R. PH., a pharmacist, in a Report sworn on September 7, 2006, explained that Risperdal carries a pharmaceutical “black box warning” which means that such drug carries a significant risk of serious or even life threatening adverse effects, and that the drug was not approved for control of behavioral disorders in elderly patients (aged 73 to 97 years) [as defendants in this case had claimed of 86 year old Ms. Baity]..
In a similar vain, a second physician at Grace Manor, Nelda Lawler, M.D., authorized a non-consensual dental surgical procedure whereby three of Ms. Baity’s healthy teeth, #s “1”, “10” and “26” were extracted, again, this was done without the patient’s consent or authorization. Grace Manor staff then altered dental records in order to make it appear as though Ms. Baity had agreed to those dental procedures, where original record s disclosed that Ms. Baity did not agree to such intrusive dental procedures.
Ms. Baity remained involuntarily confined against her will at Grace Manor for an additional 92-days at which time her lawyer (now deceased) Richard L. Baumgarten, Esq., filed a writ of habeas corpus in New York State Supreme Court which brought about Ms. Baity’s release from confinement.
Ironically, after securing Ms. Baity’s release, Grace Manor’s staff, engaged in malicious retaliatory acts such as making harassing telephone calls and unwanted visits at Ms. Baity’s home and even filed a false complaint with Adult Protection Services claiming that her niece, Ms. Britt, was neglecting and abusing Ms. Baity. After a full investigation, Adult Protection Services determined the charges were unfounded and closed the case.
Grace Manor’s staff continued in its unlawful actions and it became necessary for Ms. Baity to go back into New York State court and on February 10, 2004 a State Supreme Court Judge issued a permanent injunction in favor of Ms. Baity and Ms. Britt and against Grace Manor & its staff prohibiting any/all further contact with Ms. Baity and Ms. Britt.
Ms. Baity was sickened by the unjustifiable wrongs brought upon her. She suffered grievously due to her 102-day period of illegal confinement and, as a direct and proximate cause, suffered not only a loss of her liberty, but Psychological trauma that resulted in her developing an Anxiety Disorder which troubled her till the date of her death.
The average person with a fair sense of justice would concur that what Ms. Baity suffered was ELDER abuse of the most severe degree and was downright outrageous and unlawful. The thought of someone taking advantage of or physically harming an elderly member of society is reprehensible. However, to add insult to injury, in Lula Baity’s case, Judges Skretny and Schroeder has made a complete mockery of justice in any sense of the term.
Each and every ruling on the part of these Judges in the case involving any substantive issues has been made against Ms. Baity and in favor of the defendants. In fact, the Judges rulings are so slanted and objectively unreasonable that judicial bias cannot be ignored.
Judges Skretny and Schroeder sanctioned delay tactics on part of the defendants’ attor-neys which prevented Ms. Baity’s lawsuit, which was initially filed in court on October 1, 2004, from going forward in spite of Ms. Baity’s fragile health and ripe old age of 86 years. Over objection, they intentionally delayed the case for years counting on the probability that Ms. Baity would die from old age before the case would be resolved. Ms. Baity, at the age of 89, passed on May 9, 2006, three (3) years after she was involuntarily removed from her home and abused by the defendants.
Statistics reveal that every year thousands of senior citizens are victims of various types of abuse. Although elder abuse is not a new problem, it is not something that people should be willing to accept. It cannot be accepted what occurred with Ms. Baity, without exposing to the public the corrupt conduct of the various public & private institutions, individuals, as well as the defense lawyers and the two federal judges involved with her case.
Consequently, any effort that enlightens people about the problem of elder abuse warrants support. Elder abuse is an under recognized problem with devastating and even life threatening consequences. Elder abuse can occur anywhere – in the home, in nursing homes, or other institutions, including within the courts. It affects seniors across all socio‐economic groups, cultures, and races. Based on available information, women and “older” elders are more likely to be victimized, as is proven in Lula Baity’s situation.
When our elder citizens are victimized, exploited and abused, we turn to our courts to seek justice, therefore it is particularly egregious when officers of the very court in which we seek refuge for our elders from these abuses are in turn complicit in further victimizing them by blatant judicial bias and prejudicial conduct like that exhibited by Judge Skretny and Magistrate Schroeder.
The example of the denial of justice perpetrated by Judges Skretny and Schroeder against Ms. Lula Baity is just one example of the disparity in the treatment dispensed to the poor and powerless as opposed to that given to the privileged and powerful in the federal Western District Court in Buffalo, New York. What occurred in Ms. Baity’s case is criminal and it goes much further than being just a violation of her civil and constitutional rights. Before her death, Ms. Baity frequently spoke of the fact that she was treated kinder and with more respect during the post-slavery and pre Civil Rights eras, than she has been treated by the actors in this case.
Currently pending and awaiting decision by the Court are the parties’ motions for summary judgment. The Estate of Lula Baity is asking for a judgment in her favor based on defendants’ violation of her procedural due process rights and false imprisonment for involuntarily seizing and confining her without lawful process. The defendants seek judgment and dismissal of Ms. Baity’s lawsuit on the ground that they did nothing wrong but only sought to give needed assistance to Ms. Baity.
What has occurred and continues to occur in Lula Baity’s case has taken place behind closed hospital/nursing home and courtroom doors out of the public eye. There are no cameras or news media. These people are proceeding with callous and unfettered discretion, free to do as they please because there are no checks and balances in place.
Attorney General Holder, we, the signatories of this Petition, request that your office undertake an investigation into the circumstances of the Lula Baity matter,
to investigate the inadequacies that exist in the current system at its most critical juncture where decisions are made and actions taken which affects our Elders liberty and right to self-determination. Finally, we request that your office make a recommendation that Ms. Baity’s civil case be transferred from the Western District Federal Court in Buffalo to a New York City court where, perhaps, an unbiased judge can decide her case.
We believe that public opinion will support this request for the investigation by your office into this matter.
You can reach representatives for Ms. Baity at email@example.com
Carmen Britt started this petition with a single signature, and now has 369 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.