W. Timothy Needham

Elder Abuse Case Against Timber Ridge Yields $5 Million Verdict

As published in the North Coast Journal, by Linda Stansberry and Sam Armanino, Thursday, January 19, 2017:

Timber Ridge McKinleyville will pay the family of a woman who died under its care $5 million after a jury found the facility liable for wrongful death and elder abuse on Jan. 17. The amount includes $2.5 million in punitive damages.


Court Hands Major Victory to the Medical Marijuana Industry

In a major victory for those distributing and cultivating medical marijuana, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in United States v McIntosh, et. al. (August 16, 2016) has held that, at least for the time being, those who comply with the medical marijuana laws of their state cannot be prosecuted by the Department of Justice for federal crimes.


Financial Elder Abuse Law - Clarification of Scope

As indicated in my previous blogs on the subject, financial elder abuse is rampant in this country. A recent post by the National Adult Protective Services Association indicates that one in twenty older adults have suffered some sort of perceived financial mistreatment in the recent past and that only one in forty-four cases is ever reported.

In Bounds v. Superior Court (2014) 229 Cal. App. 4th 468 the Court provided guidance on when there has been “financial abuse” under the Act.


The Growing Epidemic of Senior Financial Abuse

According to the Investor Protection Trust, one out of every five older Americans has already been duped by a financial scam. Persons over the age of 50 now control over 70% of the nation’s wealth. As Willie Sutton once said about why he held up banks, the reason Seniors are now targeted is because “that’s where the money is.”  The General Accounting Office estimated that, for 2010 alone, financial elder abuse amounted to over $2.9 Billion. This figure is likely low because seniors often don’t report financial abuse because they are embarrassed that they have been scammed.


Pedestrian Accidents in Humboldt County

Anyone who decides to walk across a street in Humboldt County is at risk of being injured by an inattentive driver. In 2010 4,280 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in the United States and another 70,000 pedestrians were injured. This averages to 1 crash related pedestrian death every 2 hours and a pedestrian injury every 8 minutes. Pedestrians are 1½ times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to be killed in a car crash.


A Plaintiff's Practical Guide to Motions In Limine

Every plaintiff’s attorney has a “love/hate” relationship with motions in limine. On the one hand these motions serve the vital function of preventing defendants from introducing irrelevant and prejudicial evidence. On the other hand defendants use these same motions to try to handcuff plaintiff’s counsel and sabotage the plaintiff’s case. This article briefly discusses how plaintiff’s attorneys can use such motions to achieve their goals while preventing or limiting the damage done by defendants.

What is a Motion in Limine?


Dangers of Texting and Cell Phone while Driving

Here in Eureka we have recently seen a rash of car/pedestrian accidents caused by cell phone use. Vehicle Code  §23123 (a) provides that “a person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking and is used in that manner while driving.”


Medicare Overbilling Rampant in Nursing Homes

A report by the Office of Inspector General issued on November 13, 2012, found that one quarter of all claims billed by skilled nursing facilities in 2009 contained errors which resulted in 1.5 billion dollars in overcharges to Medicare.  (The report is entitled “Inappropriate Payments to Skilled Nursing Facilities Cost Medicare More than a Billion Dollars in 2009.”)


Improvements in "Nursing Home Compare" Site

One in seven Americans age 65 and older will spend time in one of the nation’s 16,000 nursing homes this year, and for those 85 and older the chances are more than one in five.  That adds up to about 3.3 million Americans.

To help patients and their families choose a nursing home and compare between different types of homes, the federal government hosts a web site called “Nursing Home Compare”.


Don't Sign It!!!

Every time we get into a case against a nursing home for elder abuse, one of the first things we look to is whether or not the patient or their family member signed an arbitration agreement requiring the patient and family to give up the right to a jury trial.  The nursing homes include these arbitration agreements as part of the stack of documents that the person is to sign on admittance.  Because it is simply “part of the stack,” that agreement invariably gets signed without any understanding that the patient is giving away substantial and significant rights.  On the rare occasion where q


Raising the Standard of Proof in Tort Cases?

In a recent article in TRG Personal Injury Litigation News(March 2012), Kelly Kirkland argued that a clear and convincing standard of proof should be adopted in tort cases where large damage awards were at stake.  In other words, the more seriously injured the victim, the more difficulty the ability to recover.  According to the article, an increased standard of proof is necessary because the outcome of these suits . . . affect . . . the distribution of existing wealth. A necessary predicate to Mr. Kirkland's proposal is that a tort crisis exists.  The problem is that Mr.


A Perfect Storm for Nursing Home Residents

Since 2005 there have been at least 46 buyouts of nursing home operators.  Private equity firms now own three of the five largest nursing home chains in the United States, including HCR Manor Care which was bought by the Carlisle Group for more than $6 billion dollars in 2007.

The private equity firms claim that, even though they are “for profit,” they can still  provide excellent care for seniors.  However, recent studies show that is simply untrue.


Consumer Attorney of the Year Award Nominations

Janssen Malloy LLP partners, W. Timothy Needham, Michael J. Crowley, Patrik Griego and Amelia F. Burroughs have been nominated by Consumer Attorneys of California for the organization’s Consumer Attorney of the Year Award.  The nomination arises from the firm’s handling of the seminal jury verdict case of 2010, Lavender vs.


Financial Abuse of the Elderly

Persons over the age of 50 control 70% of the wealth in our country.  Because seniors are perceived as slowing down mentally or, in the case of those who are either recently widowed or divorced, as being unsophisticated in handling their finances, they are often targets of financial abuse.  In an internal memo produced in a case in which we were involved regarding selling financial products to seniors, the author noted at the bottom, “And always remember the weak, the meek and the ignorant were always good targets.”  Humboldt County is no different than the rest of the state, and seniors in


Eureka Personal Injury Attorneys Finalists

News Release - For Immediate Release

June 21, 2011

Contact: Deborah Mathis, Communications Director - (202) 797-8600 or dmathis@publicjustice.net

Six California Lawyers Who Won Historic Verdict for Nursing Home Residents Are Finalists for Trial Lawyer of the Year Award


Distributing “cy pres” Funds

In recent class action cases that we have filed in Humboldt County and in other counties we’ve had occasion where all the funds have not been claimed after the claim process was finished.  We’ve been asked what is done with those remaining funds.

When a balance of class recovery remains after distribution to the individual class members, the court is faced with the issue of how to dispose of the remaining balance of the common fund.


W. Timothy Needham Nominated

Janssen Law Firm partner W. Timothy Needham has been nominated for the 2011 Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year award through the American Association for Justice (AAJ).  The nomination stems from Mr. Needham’s tireless efforts on behalf of the plaintiffs in the Lavender v.  Skilled Healthcare nursing home understaffing class-action case that was tried in Humboldt County Superior Court in 2010.


The Importance of Allowing Class Actions

In one of the first class actions in which I was ever involved we sued an insurance carrier that had a policy which cheated its insureds out of fairly small amounts.  During discovery we turned up a memo that discussed bonuses to the employees with the slogan “A penny a patient.”  The idea was that, since the insurance carrier had over 20 million patients, if it could find a way to save (cheat) the patient out of one penny, that saved the company $200,000.

Of course who’s going to fight with a major insurance carrier over one penny?  No one.


Making a Nursing Home Decision

Because of the success the Janssen Law Firm had in litigation against nursing homes, people often ask us what they should look for in determining whether to put their loved one in such a home.   Starting January 1, 2011, it will be easier to make that determination.

As of that date, all California nursing homes will be required to post the ratings for that facility under the MEDICARE 5-STAR RATING SYSTEM.  That system looks at three different criteria to determine home’s rating: (1) health inspections; (2) staffing numbers; and (3) quality measures.


Times-Standard - 2010's Biggest Trial Verdict

Journalist Matt Drange of the Eureka Times-Standard covered the Lavender v. Skilled Healthcare jury trial, writing in depth in a three part series the stories underlying the class action law suit against Skilled Healthcare.  Drange noted that it was the longest civil trial in Humboldt County history, and the $677 million verdict was the largest trial result in the United States in 2010.


New Rules May End Nursing Homes Hide and Seek


In recent years thousands of nursing homes across the nation have been purchased by large Wall Street private equity companies.  Unfortunately, the pattern has been that, once purchased, the private investors cut expenses and staff often below the legal minimum requirements.


Skilled Healthcare Settlement Approved by Court

Settlement in Skilled Healthcare suit has been approved by court and praised by nursing home reform advocates.

On December 1, 2010, the Times Standard interviewed The Janssen Law Firm's Lead Trial Lawyer Timothy Needham about the Humboldt County Superior Court's Final Approval of the Settlement in the Skilled Healthcare Lawsuit.   The $677 million dollar jury verdict was the largest award ever given by a Humboldt County Jury.


Skilled Healthcare LLC Lawsuit

On July 6th, 2010 a Humboldt County jury returned a verdict in excess of $670 million dollars against Skilled Healthcare Group, Inc., Skilled Healthcare LLC and 22 subsidiaries located throughout California for violating the state minimum staffing requirements.  The plaintiff class was represented by members W.


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