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Cecille L. Hester - Trial C.V.

Trial Attorney: Cecille L. Hester
Case No: BC039931
Court: Los Angeles County Superior Court - Central District
Judge: Barbara Scheper, Department 30
Dates: 2/14/14 to 3/10/14 (verdict)
Summary Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Plaintiff's mother was admitted to defendant hospital with pneumonia. Plaintiff, the estranged daughter of decedent, originally brought a claim for Elder Abuse, and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress against defendant hospital. Because decedent's other daughter was the trustee of the living trust of decedent, upon Demurrer, it was held that plaintiff had no legal standing to bring any claim on her mother's behalf, and the Demurrer to that cause of action (Elder Abuse) was sustained, without leave to amend. The case ultimately went to trial only upon the claim for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress against defendant hospital and plaintiff's two sisters (who were also defendants on that claim), and a claim for Wrongful Death against co-defendant physician.

Plaintiff claimed that she had been denied access to her mother to visit her as a patient at the hospital, and that the risk manager had threatened her with arrest if she set foot on the premises; and that these "threats" were not precipitated by any bad conduct on her part. The decedent had an Advance Healthcare Directive which gave specific instructions regarding her end of life care. Plaintiff was not the surrogate decision maker and did not agree with her mother's end of life healthcare decisions. She came to the hospital on three occasions and was allowed to visit her mother but became verbally abusive to staff, and had to be escorted by security out of the hospital the last evening visit. Plaintiff would not speak with her sister, who was the surrogate decision maker who had been appointed by decedent pursuant to the Advanced Healthcare Directive.

Plaintiff was claiming years of emotional distress by her sisters, which was exacerbated by conduct of staff at defendant hospital. She also contended that co-defendant doctor was negligent in the care and treatment of her mother causing her death.

Demand: None
Offer: Dismissal in exchange for a waiver of costs, waiver of malicious prosecution claim
Verdict: Defense
Trial Attorney: Michael A. O'Flaherty / Cecille L. Hester
Case No: BC412306
Court: Los Angeles County Superior Court, Central District (downtown)
Judge: Kevin C. Brazile
Dates: 4/11/11 to 4/29/11
Summary Elder Abuse Alleged -

Claimed sexual assault of plaintiffs' mother on 9/12/08. Also, claimed neglect while plaintiffs' mother was a patient in the subacute unit of Defendant's hospital from July 2008 to her death in June 2010.

Plaintiffs' decedent, Marta Pineda, was initially seen in defendant's acute unit. After a few days, she was transferred to the subacute unit. Ms. Pineda was semi-comatose, on a ventilator and a G-tube. She developed decubitus (pressure) ulcers while she was a patient. On September 12, 2008, a bruised and swollen labia were observed by family members. They called the police, claiming their mother had been raped.

Plaintiffs contended that the defendant's employees failed to turn and reposition Marta Pineda every two hours, and left her lying in feces. The 9/12/08 "rape" was not properly investigated and reported. There was a "cover up" by management.

Defendant contended that Mrs. Pineda was appropriately turned and repositioned. There was insufficient evidence of an assault. The incident was reported by defendant hospital to the Department of Health Services as required. The family did not move her from defendant's facility after the incident, where she remained for another 1-1/2 years until her death, so they must have been satisfied that the bruising was inadvertent.

Demand: $1,200,000 before trial; $800,000 during trial
Offer: $50,000 during trial, with an indication of $75,000 possible
Verdict: Defense
Trial Attorney: Michael A. O'Flaherty / Cecille L. Hester
Case No: EC039931
Court: Los Angeles County Superior Court, Glendale District
Judge: Laura Matz
Dates: 11/7/06 to 11/29/06 (verdict)
Summary Elder Abuse Alleged -

Lilly Lipton was admitted to defendant hospital on May 20, 2003 with low blood pressure, atrial fibrillation and a UTI. She developed a large decubitus ulcer on her buttocks that because visible 4-1/2 days after admission. The ulcer became very large and extended to the bone. She died of sepsis on November 29, 2003 after an extended hospitalization.

Plaintiffs, the husband and daughters (daughters dismissed before trial) contended that Mrs. Lipton was not turned and repositioned every two hours as required by hospital protocol. The experts claimed that "since it was not charted, it was not done." This alleged failure to turn and reposition caused the decubitus ulcer in the first place and then made it worse. The ulcer was a substantial factor in causing the death of Mrs. Lipton. The persistent failure to turn and reposition Mrs. Lipton over a six month timeframe was "reckless." The hospital administration ratified the reckless misconduct by doing nothing about it after Mrs. Lipton's family members complained to upper management. The hospital allegedly violated a number of regulations governing extended stay facilities.

Defendant contended that the "ulcer" was actually a "deep tissue" injury that resulted from Mrs. Lipton passing out on the toilet at home before coming to the hospital. Although turning and repositioning was frequently not charted, that did not mean it was not done. Although the ulcer did get worse, it was, by the time of her death, beginning to heal. The cause of the sepsis which lead to Mrs. Lipton's demise was not the wound.

Demand: CCP § 998 $350,000
Offer: $50,000 (with indications of $100,000)
Verdict: Defense
Trial Attorney: Michael A. O'Flaherty / Cecille L. Hester
Case No: YC049830
Court: Los Angeles County Superior Court, Torrance District
Judge: Lois Smaltz
Dates: 2/14/06 to 2/28/06
Summary Elder Abuse Alleged -

75 year-old plaintiff was a patient in the Torrance Memorial Medical Center Transitional Care Unit ("TCU") which is a separately licensed as a skilled nursing facility (although located on the premises of Torrance Memorial Medical Center). Prior to her admission to the TCU, she had undergone a total right knee replacement at the acute care hospital. She was in the TCU for rehabilitation and training in activities of daily living before going home with her daughter. On June 4, 2004 at 3:15 a.m., the plaintiff was out of bed on her own trying to reach the bathroom. She claims she pushed the call light and no one came to her assistance (and that this was a pattern and practice during her entire admission to the TCU where she had been for several days prior to the fall). She fell and suffered a compression fracture of her L1 vertebrae and a large scalp laceration.

Demand: $199,000 C.C.P. §998 (30 days before trial)
Offer: $30,000 C.C.P. §998
Verdict: Defense

(Note that this verdict was appealed by plaintiff on grounds of abuse of discretion by court in refusing to allow evidence of (1) prior Statements of Deficiency and Plans of Correction issued by the Department of Health Services upon annual inspections and complaint visits to the facility (violation of health care regulation), not involving plaintiff; and (2) policies and procedures to establish standard of care (motions in limine by defendant were granted on these issues), as well as other minor evidentiary exclusions. The Appellate Court found no error, and affirmed the verdict.)

Trial Attorney: Cecille L. Hester
Case No: NC030158
Court: Los Angeles County Superior Court, Long Beach District
Judge: James L. Wright
Dates: 4/28/03 to 5/7/03

On July 5, 2000 plaintiff DeRoy Green, a 38 year-old singer/dancer was a patron a Club Ripples, a nightclub in Long Beach, California, that was owned by Ocean Granada, Inc. Green claimed that while he was on the dance floor, he slipped and fell on a liquid substance and injured his leg, causing substantial injuries to his leg. Green contended that the liquid on the dance floor constituted a dangerous condition and that Ocean Granada's inspection procedures were not adequate.

Ocean Granada contended that there was no substance on the floor and that reasonable inspection procedures existed.

Green sustained a comminuted displaced fracture of the distal fibula. He claimed $30,000 in past medical expense, $10,000 in future medical expense, and over $1 million in past and future loss of earnings.

Demand: $500,000
Offer: $30,000
Verdict: Defense
Trial Attorney: Cecille L. Hester / Fredrick James
Case No: GC026152
Court: Los Angeles County Superior Court, Pasadena District
Judge: Michael Byrne
Dates: 3/26/02 to 4/3/02

Plaintiff suffered ankle injuries, right knee contusion and lower leg abrasion, claiming permanent injury to his ankle when he slipped and fell on a railroad tie ramp at the defendant golf course. The plaintiff contended that the defendant failed to maintain the premises in a safe condition, failed to remove the railroad tie ramp and replace the area of sod, and failed to warn of the known dangerous condition.

Defendant denied liability and contended that the plaintiff failed to use due care for his own safety and failed to park his golf cart in the appropriate designated area.

Demand: $150,000
Offer: $30,000
Verdict: $5,025.10 in economic damages, $33,250 in non-economic damages
Trial Attorney: Cecille L. Hester
Case No: BC135954
Court: Los Angeles County Superior Court, Central District (downtown)
Judge: Morris B. Jones
Dates: 2/1/01 to 2/6/01

Plaintiff was in her front yard gardening when defendant, George Ravelling (coach at the time of USC Basketball team), was involved in an automobile accident and crashed through her fence and into her yard, hitting a large tree very close to where she was. She contended that as a result of the loud noise of the crash she hard a "boom" in her head and thereafter had constant ringing in her ears. Dr. John House, of the House Ear Clinic, testified that plaintiff's current condition was due to the incident, aka trauma-induced tinnitus.

Demand: $200,000
Offer: $15,000
Verdict: $15,000 economic damages, $35,000 in non-economic damages