Recently, the California Court of Appeal addressed whether a plaintiff in a lawsuit involving claims for willful misconduct and elder abuse had pled sufficient facts to support these causes of action. In this unpublished opinion, the court stated that while the plaintiff pled sufficient facts to support a cause of action for negligence, he had not alleged the specific mental state of the defendant necessary for his other claims.
Plaintiff Leonard Thomas was an elderly man admitted to a skilled nursing facility under the control of defendant Country Villa Service Corporation (“CV Corporation”). After staying at the facility for seven weeks, Mr. Thomas developed pressure sores and other medical issues, including a urinary tract infection and loss of weight. Mr. Thomas brought a lawsuit against CV Corporation, alleging negligence, willful misconduct, elder abuse, and fraud.
Procedurally, the trial court sustained CV Corporation’s demurrer to all but the negligence claim, and then it granted summary judgment on the negligence claim that survived the demurrer. The court dismissed in favor of CV Corporation. Then, Mr. Thomas died, and his successor in interest, Bertha Thomas, appealed. The issue on appeal was whether other causes of action against CV Corporation should have withstood the demurrer. Those causes of action were based on the same set of facts as the negligence claim, but they included allegations that CV Corporation’s conduct was willful, fraudulent, reckless, malicious, and oppressive.