momsie Asked January 2013

Can I sue the nursing home for alienation of affection?

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A nonprofessional staff member at a nursing home made an alliance with my husband, which destroyed our marriage. California law? Can I sue the nursing home for alienation of affection? This relationship has been going on for almost a year. I've complained to licensed professionals and to the administrators at the nursing home. Nothing was done to remedy the situation. Do I have legal recourse in California?

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NancySue Feb 2015
This is a question about nursing homes' legal liability for the boundary crossings and boundary violations of staff, not your personal history with 'cat fights.' Nursing home residents are vulnerable and often completely helpless and over-medicated.
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freqflyer Feb 2015
I could never figure out why women go after *the other woman* when they should be upset with their own husbands/boyfriends/sig others.

Then there are guys who enjoy a really good cat fight, making up stories to get their spouse/girlfriend/sig other very jealous, just to get attention. That happened to me decades ago, and to this day I still don't know if that woman ever existed or not. I vowed never to get caught up in such a web again, it's too emotionally draining.
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Ha! Are you serious? How did it turn out?
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NancySue Feb 2015
Momsie,

Did you ever resolve this problem legally? How did you handle it? I am curious because my mother experienced a very similar situation when my father was placed in a Nebraska nursing home last year. Very distressing.
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sharirose Jan 2013
Stay the course. Don't let the trampet win. She is after something. She will use him and dump him. Perhaps you need to research legal sites on line for info on what can be done like suing her and the n. home. Best of luck.
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momsie Jan 2013
Thanks Jeanne and the best of luck to you
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jeannegibbs Jan 2013
I'm sorry if I seemed hostile. I was truly confused. Thanks for the longer explanation. It just seems so sad to see a marriage in jeopardy.

I am glad to hear the administrators have your concerns in writing.

Please let us know how this turns out with the ombudsman. And good luck!
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momsie Jan 2013
My husband struggles with depression. He was on a strong antidepressant, at a high dose for an elderly person. The side effects of the medication for him were dis-inhibition and hyper sexuality. This was the situation when the romance began. She took him in her own private car to do errands. On the unit she was constantly touching him calling him my darling my sweetheart.

I asked her superior for the staff person to call him by his name and not to have excessive physical contact with him. Especially while the medications were being adjusted.

My husband professed his love for her, and other things. She continued her behavior and and told my husband I had gotten her in trouble. My husband was angry at me, he continued to be angry at me for six months. All the while they were best friends.
I know a nursing home is a little community in itself, I know patients often form relationships with each other because they're thrown together and the outside world becomes vague and meaningless. I also know friendships with married opposite gender patients, which are characterized by an alliance against the spouse of the married patient, are neither appropriate nor ethical. And I know that gossiping about and with patients about the patients' family members is not ethical.

By licensed professionals. I'm referring to the person or persons in each discipline who are responsible because of education and licensing for managing a certain area of healthcare. For instance, registered nurses are professional nurses, LPN's are vocational nurses, CNAs have a certain area of expertise. The RN is in charge of the unit and responsible for supervising LPN's, CNA's, etc. the RN's license is on the line when something goes wrong. Each discipline has that sort of hierarchy.

My husband is capable of initiating a change in his situation and asking for my help once he's taken the first steps. He's also able to let me spend a lot of time arranging a change and then not liking the idea after all. And I wouldn't blame him for that. He has a right to choose the place he wants to live, and come to think of it., he has the right to choose who he wants to hang out with.

And it's his right to be given the space to make those decisions without influence from a staff member who, after all, is dominant over him by virtue of being on the staff of his nursing home.

You do sound a bit hostile and I wonder why.

My husband doesn't want to see our marriage dissolved, but he also wants to hold onto a relationship with a woman younger than his daughters. The situation will end up causing him pain also, and it was so unnecessary.

The administrators have the specifics in writing.
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jeannegibbs Jan 2013
Momsie, I'm really sorry you are going through such a stressful time.

The reason that most states have dropped the "alienation of affection" concept is that the notion that a relationship is all one person's doing is pretty much obsolete. We tend more to the notion that it takes two to tango these days. If your husband doesn't have dementia then how could it be the nursing home's fault that he was flirting with a staff member? Can you prove that she was more than being "friendly" back? How do you know the nature of their friendship? He is sweet, funny, and charming. That must be a welcome change from many of the crabs in the patient beds. Probably most of the staff is friendly with him. That is super. Again, we don't know how you know something inappropriate is going on, and you apparently weren't able to tell the administrators, either. Admittedly that was a very stressful confrontation, but you nodded that you were satisfied, so why would you expect them to fire the woman? Did you ever go back, more composed, and try to talk to just one of them, perhaps with written notes to help you?

A nursing home would be a pretty dismal place if there were rules against staff being friendly with residents. What, exactly, did this woman do that was beyond friendly? And what did you expect the NH to do when you indicated you were satisfied it was just friendship?

Your husband says he will leave if you ask him to. Why don't you ask him to, make arrangements for him in another facility, and help him move? I don't understand what you are expecting -- for him to get on the phone or take taxis and find another place himself, and then make arrangements to move and to call you when he is moved in?

I don't know what "licensed professionals" you've complained to -- you mean like nurses? Not their jurisdiction. You complained to administrators, which is appropriate, but then you nodded that you were satisfied that they were just friends. Now you've brought it up to an ombudsman. I hope that will resolve the matter.

I hope I don't sound totally unsympathetic. I just am confused about why you would throw away a marriage and hope to see someone lose their job based on "an alliance" that may or may not have been a just a friendship, when you couldn't offer more specifics to the administrators and you won't move your husband out of that NH.
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momsie Jan 2013
He likes the nursing home, wants to stay, but says he'll leave if I ask him to. I haven't asked him, because he says one thing and does another completely different. If he is willing to leave, he should leave.
The woman is still there. She sometimes works in his section.
They had her on administrative leave for 1 week after I made a formal complaint in writing an to to the administration. I was visiting my husband and I saw that she was back.
I went to the administrators, there were four of them in the office. I am not well, I have a degenerative illness, and the stress is taking its toll.. I couldn't even think. They brought the woman in and she said I'm just really good friends with your husband. That's all we are really good friends." I started shaking couldn't get my breath. They said "are you satisfied" all I could do is nod. I know I couldn't survive a mean-spirited trial.

I've taken what I feel is a positive step by consulting, an ombudsman. If the ombudsman investigates and feels I should take the matter farther, I will.

I'd like to hold the woman accountable for the pain she is causing, not only me but our adult children and our extended family. Her actions seem to me to be so wrong, so terribly wrong. The indifference of the nursing home to what is taking place has a nightmarish quality about it.
My husband is not demented, although something seems to be really wrong with his brain. What he is doing is completely unlike anything he's ever done before. He's a sweet funny, charming man. I plan to work with the ombudsman and if she recommends it I will pursue formal complaints with the various agencies responsible for licensing and maintaining standards in long-term nursing facilities.
When I've done all I can to change attitudes, poor boundaries, unethical practices in that nursing home, I'll probably obtain some sort of legal separation from my husband.
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