CACI 3101 Financial Abuse—Decedent’s Pain and Suffering (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 15657.5)

California Civil Jury Instructions CACI

3101 Financial Abuse—Decedent’s Pain and Suffering (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 15657.5)

[Name of plaintiff] also seeks to recover damages for [name of decedent]’s pain and suffering. To recover these damages, [name of plaintiff] must also prove by clear and convincing evidence that [name of individual defendant/[name of employer defendant]’s employee] acted with [recklessness/oppression/fraud/ [or] malice] in committing the financial abuse.

Directions for Use

Give this instruction along with CACI No. 3100, Financial Abuse—Essential Factual Elements, if the plaintiff seeks survival damages for pain and suffering in addition to conventional tort damages and attorney fees and costs. (See Welf. & Inst. Code, § 15657.5.) Although one would not normally expect that financial abuse alone would lead to a wrongful death action, the Legislature has provided this remedy should the situation arise.

If the individual responsible for the neglect is a defendant in the case, use “[name of individual defendant].” If only the individual’s employer is a defendant, use “[name of employer defendant]’s employee.”

The instructions in this series are not intended to cover every circumstance in which a plaintiff may bring a cause of action under the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act.

Sources and Authority

Enhanced Remedies for Financial Abuse. Welfare and Institutions Code section 15657.5.

“The purpose of the [Elder Abuse Act] is essentially to protect a particularly vulnerable portion of the population from gross mistreatment in the form of abuse and custodial neglect.” (Delaney v. Baker (1999) 20 Cal.4th 23, 33 [82 Cal.Rptr.2d 610, 971 P.2d 986].)

“In order to obtain the remedies available in section 15657, a plaintiff must demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that defendant is guilty of something more than negligence; he or she must show reckless, oppressive, fraudulent, or malicious conduct. The latter three categories involve ‘intentional,’ ‘willful,’ or ‘conscious’ wrongdoing of a ‘despicable’ or ‘injurious’ nature. ‘Recklessness’ refers to a subjective state of culpability greater than simple negligence, which has been described as a ‘deliberate disregard’ of the ‘high degree of probability’ that an injury will occur. Recklessness, unlike negligence, involves more than ‘inadvertence, incompetence, unskillfulness, or a failure to take precautions’ but rather rises to the level of a ‘conscious choice of a course of action … with knowledge of the serious danger to others involved in it.’ ” (Delaney, supra, 20 Cal.4th at pp. 31–32, internal citations omitted.)

“As amended in 1991, the Elder Abuse Act was designed to protect elderly and dependent persons from abuse, neglect, or abandonment. In addition to adopting measures designed to encourage reporting of abuse and neglect, the Act authorizes the court to award attorney fees to the prevailing plaintiffs and allows survivors to recover pain and suffering damages in cases of intentional and reckless abuse where the elder has died.” (Mack v. Soung (2000) 80 Cal.App.4th 966, 971–972 [95 Cal.Rptr.2d 830], disapproved on other grounds in Winn v. Pioneer Medical Group, Inc. (2016) 63 Cal.4th 148, 164 [202 Cal.Rptr.3d 447, 370 P.3d 1011], internal citations omitted.)

“The effect of the 1991 amendment to the elder abuse law was to … permit a decedent’s personal representative or successor to recover pain and suffering damages when plaintiff can prove by clear and convincing evidence recklessness, oppression, fraud, or malice in the commission of elder abuse. Even then, those damages would be subject to the $250,000 cap placed by Civil Code section 3333.2, subdivision (b) for noneconomic damages against a health care provider. In this limited circumstance, the decedent’s right to pain and suffering damages would not die with him or her; the damages would be recoverable by a survivor.” (ARA Living Centers—Pacific, Inc. v. Superior Court (1993) 18 Cal.App.4th 1556, 1563 [23 Cal.Rptr.2d 224].)

Secondary Sources

6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Torts, §§ 1865–1871
Balisok, Civil Litigation Series: Elder Abuse Litigation, §§ 8:5–8:7, 8:15 (The Rutter Group)
California Elder Law Litigation (Cont.Ed.Bar 2003) §§ 6.23, 6.30–6.34, 6.45–6.47
1 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 5, Abuse of Minors and Elderly, § 5.35 (Matthew Bender)