The death of a disabled, elderly man last summer has raised serious questions about the care given to disabled individuals all over the country. And a trial that is expected as a result of this death could have nation-wide implications. Mike Papantonio is joined by attorney Troy Rafferty to talk about this case and the impacts that it could have.

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*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio: The death of a disabled elderly man last summer has raised serious questions about the caregiving to disabled individuals all over the country and a trial that’s expected as a result of this death could have nationwide implications. Joining me to talk about this case and the impacts that it has is Troy Rafferty. First of all, Troy, it’s a case you’re handling, it’s a case that, this case has grabbed national attention. And I think because we’re seeing more and more news reports about elderly abuse, we’re not just talking about nursing home issues, we’re talking about elderly abuse. What’s the difference here?

Troy Rafferty: Well, elderly abuse, and not just elderly abuse, but also abuse of the disabled. The, you know, the developmentally disabled, that’s become rampant. Major sections of our most vulnerable populations we’re finding all over the country systemic abuse and all sorts of different types of abuse.

Mike Papantonio: Well, I think what’s important is when people think of elderly abuse, these are things that come to mind. Physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, financial, financial exploitation. So what we’re seeing now is finally America’s coming to terms with, we’ve got a baby boomer generation that’s moving through. And so we’re seeing these things that are resulting all over the country. We get calls all the time, emotional abuse, for example, threatening, yelling, ignoring, isolating, not bathing, taking elderly who really can’t take care of these kinds of problems. Neglect, withholding food, withholding medication, withholding access to Medicare, medical treatment. So I think what’s important about it is right now, I think we’re at a time finally where people are starting to understand it’s because you got the baby boomers moving through.

Troy Rafferty: Right.

Mike Papantonio: And so that’s a big event.

Troy Rafferty: It’s a huge event. And I think one of the things that people don’t realize is how rampant it is throughout the country. We know, for example, not just the elderly, not just the disabled, but also teens. I mean, we’ve been seeing those, instances of that all over the country. But in this.

Mike Papantonio: What we’re seeing here though, Troy, to me, really concerns me from the standpoint of we’ve had government asleep on it. Anytime you talk about elderly abuse, everybody thinks okay, they think of the nursing home. That’s it. That’s where the analysis stops. Talk about this case right here.

Troy Rafferty: Yeah. This isn’t a nursing home case. So this is a case of a gentleman who was, has been developmentally disabled since age one. He can’t speak, he’s non-verbal and he can’t get in and out of a seatbelt. And this company, this transport company, left him in the bus for eight hours in 101 degree heat until he died, 66 years old. And they were responsible for him. They had the obligation to do it. And they just, you know, so many times in these elderly abuse cases, they just get forgotten. They’re forgotten because they’re like, well, you know, they were old.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah. Well, this man couldn’t speak.

Troy Rafferty: He couldn’t speak.

Mike Papantonio: He was disabled to the point where he couldn’t take his seatbelt off, couldn’t ask for help. I think the important thing to me though, as I look at this, you have these non-governmental entities. You have private sectors coming in and saying, let us take care of it. The same way they’re taking care of the prison industry, the same way that they’re moving into every aspect of our life. They’re now seeing the timing and the timing is, as I say, you’ve got a generation moving through. They’re, you know, certainly baby boomers, older baby boomers. So now you have this big movement, you have every corporation in the country saying, yeah, we want to help. This transport company, we want to help. The people who took care of him day to day, we want to help. Government has gotten to the point to where there’s no oversight anymore because they say, well, somebody’s taking care of it. Corporations are taking care of it.

Troy Rafferty: Right. Right. And interestingly in this case, their family, this was, you know, this family was caring for him in terms of going to see him, visit him regularly. Take him and get him his favorite home cooked foods and everything like that. And, you know, they just, all of these instances of the abuse that you just went through, the emotional, the psychological, all of them, they are rampant. And this case, for example, is just an example of one. Like you said, it’s got national implications.

Mike Papantonio: I think lawyers are slow to respond to how serious this is. Okay. We’re seeing it. We’ve got people coming in with financial, what I call financial exploitation. They’re losing their property, they’re losing their belongings over intimidation, over fraud. There’s all kinds of signs there. You know, when they come into the office and you say, well, what is it you didn’t see? You know, go through the signs. They lose weight. They’re not, there’s no reason they’re losing weight. Unexplained bruises and cuts and burns. You’ll, there’s a condition that happens and it’s really unique to the elderly. When they’re abused, they do, it’s called the rocking motion. They’ll sit back in their chair and just rock back and forth and what they’re showing you is something is really wrong. There’s sign after sign. Lawyers need to understand that these are serious cases. This case, when a jury hears about this, I know there’s limitations on the damages on how this is gonna be tried because we’re in Florida for god’s sakes. But the point is, this is the kind of case that lawyers should be watching for all over the country.

Troy Rafferty: Absolutely. These are the most atrocious cases.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah. Troy Rafferty, thank you for joining me. Okay.

Troy Rafferty: Thanks, Mike. Always a pleasure.

Mike Papantonio: That’s all for this week, but all of these segments are gonna be available throughout the next week. And make sure you follow us on Twitter @AmericasLawyer. I’m Mike Papantonio and this has been America’s Lawyer, where we tell you the stories that corporate media won’t tell you because their advertisers don’t let ’em, or their political connections won’t allow for it. We’ll see you next time.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.