THE CASE OF LULA BAITY
A VICTIM OF ELDER ABUSE & EXPLOITATION
HER SHOCKING STORY
Buffalo Public Housing Building where Lula Baity
lived for nearly 40 years.
LULA BAITY'S STORY
In 2003, Ms. Lula Baity, an African-American woman, then 86 years of age, was the victim of a series of acts of outrageous and egregious ELDER abuse and suffered a violation of her constitutional rights by several individuals who are named as defendants in a civil rights lawsuit brought by Ms. Baity and pending in the United States District Court, Western District of New York, before federal judges William M. Skretny, District Judge, and H. Kenneth Schroeder, Magistrate Judge, both of whom by their rulings appear to condone the violation of Ms. Baitys constitutional rights.
Below is a brief statement of the essential and undisputed facts of Ms. Baity's ordeal. Following each fact is a link to the location where it is supported either by sworn testimony or by documents created by the defendants themselves.
On September 29, 2003, Ms. Baity, then eighty six (86) years of age, went to the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority Rental Office to discuss an issue regarding a money order which had been returned to her because it was of an insufficient amount to pay her September rent. Although the monthly rental fee was One Hundred and Eighty Eight ($188.00) Dollars, Lula provided a money order in the amount of One Hundred Dollars and Eighty Eight Cents ($100. 88). A manager, Ms. Elaine Garbe, stated to Lula that the money order was of an insufficient amount to cover the total amount of her rent payment, and Lula explained that the corner store had apparently made an error with the money order amount. Ms. Garbe directed her subordinate, Ms. Jeri Giwa, a BMHA case management worker* Info1, to contact Family Services and Ms. Baity’s family (family contacts are listed in BMHA records) so as to insure that Lula would have assistance in resolving the money order issue. (See Document # 1)
The next day, on Tuesday, September 30, 2003, Ms. Giwa, rather than contact Family Services and Ms. Baity’s family as she was instructed to, to ensure that Lula would have assistance in resolving the money order issue, went instead to Lula’s apartment under the guise of doing a building inspection. Upon leaving the apartment she telephoned Erie County Crisis Services and falsely and fraudulently claimed to be Lula’s “social worker” and reported that Lula “was increasingly confused and disoriented and was talking rapidly with little content.” Ms. Giwa further reported that “Ms. Baity was not taking care of herself, not paying rent, refusing to see a doctor, and that her house was very cluttered.” Lastly, Ms. Giwa, although possessing actual knowledge of the names, addresses and telephone numbers of Ms. Baity’s family members through BMHA records, did not disclose this information to Crisis Services. (Document #6)
Based upon Ms. Giwa’s representations, twenty-four (24) hours later, on October 1, 2003, a Crisis Service worker, Ms. Jill Stadelmeyer, prepared a “Request to Take Mentally Ill Person into Custody” and she and Ms. Giwa arranged for Lula to be taken into custody. Ms. Stadelmeyer neither performed a standard brief investigative history to validate the allegations, nor verify the claim Ms. Giwa was Lula’s “social worker”, which Ms. Giwa was not. (Document #7)
Ms. Giwa’s false representations set into motion a chain of events which not only led to Lula’s involuntary removal from her home, but also resulted in Lula’s involuntary confinement for 120 consecutive days. Below are the appalling details.
On October 1, 2003, Ms. Giwa and Ms. Stadelmeyer, accompanied by BMHA police officers went to Lula’s apartment and upon gaining entrance to the apartment, Ms. Giwa physically seized Lula by grabbing hold of her arm in an attempt to force her from the apartment. As Lula made an effort to resist by trying to pull away, Ms. Giwa threatened the use of police intervention if she continued to resist and did not accompany her out of the apartment. (Lula’s Testimony Tape #8)
After having been forcefully removed from her apartment, Lula, fearful and shaken, was strapped to a gurney and transported by ambulance to the Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) where she arrived in a hypertensive state and with a rapid heartbeat, and involuntarily admitted medically (versus psychiatrically) through the emergency room (designated as an “emergency involuntary hospitalization”) with a purported diagnosis of “unable to care for herself” due to dementia, high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation. (Document #6)
Lula remained confined at ECMC for ten (10) days after which she was then involuntarily transferred to GRACE MANOR Nursing Home.
Despite their legal obligations, Dr. Phillip Rados and his staff at ECMC did not follow any legal procedures in regards to Ms. Baity, including her transfer to the nursing home. In fact, Ms. Anne Carberry Priore, the principal attorney for Mental Hygiene Legal Services, has confirmed that doctors at ECMC failed to give her legal agency notice concerning Lula’s involuntary confinement at that hospital, and also failed to give notice of Lula’s involuntary transfer to GRACE MANOR Nursing Home. (See Document #5) Info3
When Lula and her niece, Carmen Britt, requested of Grace Manor’s staff that Lula not be involuntarily admitted, Ms. Britt was threatened with arrest and Ms. Baity hauled away. Grace Manor’s purported reason for its action(s) was that, in its staffs’ opinion, Lula suffered from advanced dementia. Info4
[A Grace Manor physician, Teresa Chau, at her deposition on February 27, 2007, testified that she, in fact: (i) has no recollection of having any contact with Ms. Baity; (ii) had no recollection of conducting any testing of Ms. Baity; (iii) that no medical record(s) exist of her [Dr. Chau] having examined Ms. Baity; and (iv) Dr. Chau's reason for signing a Social Security form purporting that Ms. Baity suffered with “advanced dementia” was that she was asked to do so by Grace Manor’s Administration]. (See # Document 13)
While confined at Grace Manor, Lula was subjected to numerous unwanted, objected to, and unnecessary medical procedures, including daily long term administration of the psychotropic medication, Risperdal. The NYS Department of Health, after conducting an investigation into Grace Manor’s use of Risperdal on Lula, determined that there was no medical basis for giving Lula the drug and sanctioned Grace Manor. Info5 (See # Document 12)
In a similar vein, Grace Manor authorized non-consensual dental surgery that extracted three of Lula’s healthy teeth, #s “1”, “10” and “26”. Again, this was done without the patients consent or authorization. Grace Manor staff then altered dental records in order to make it appear as though Lula had agreed to those dental procedures, whereas original records disclosed that Lula had in fact not given her consent. (Document #11)
Lula remained involuntarily confined against her will at Grace Manor for an additional 92 days at which time her lawyer (now deceased) attorney Richard L. Baumgarten, Esq., brought a writ of habeas corpus in New York State Supreme Court which brought about Lula’s release from confinement. (See Document #3)
Ironically, after securing Lula’s release, Grace Manor’s staff engaged in malicious retaliatory acts such as making harassing telephone calls and unwanted visits to Lula’s home and even filed a false complaint with Adult Protection Services claiming that her niece, Carmen Britt, was abusing her. After a full investigation, Adult Protection Services determined the charges to be unfounded and closed the case. (See Document #14)
Grace Manor’s staff continued in its unlawful actions and it became necessary for Lula to go back to court and on February 10, 2004 a NYS State Supreme Court Judge issued a permanent injunction in Lula’s favor against Grace Manor and its staff prohibiting any further contact with Lula and Carmen. (See Document #4)
Lula was sickened by the unjustifiable wrongs brought upon her. Lula suffered grievously due to her 102 day period of illegal confinement resulting not only in a loss of her liberty, but psychological trauma that led to her developing an anxiety disorder. Document #10)
The average person with a fair sense of
justice would concur that what Lula suffered was ELDER abuse and was
downright outrageous conduct and unlawful. The thought of someone
taking advantage of or physically harming an elderly member of society
is reprehensible. However, to add insult to injury, in Lula Baity’s
case, Judges Skretny and Schroeder have made obtaining justice an uphill
Each and every ruling on the part of these Judges in the case involving any substantive issues has been made against Ms. Baity and in favor of the defendants. In fact, their rulings make a strong case for judicial bias. (Exhibit “I” attached to Document # 15)
Judges Skretny and Schroeder allowed delay tactics on part of the defendants’ attorneys which prevented Lula’s lawsuit, which was initially filed in court on October 1, 2004, from going forward in spite of Lula’s fragile health and ripe old age of 86 years. Over objection, they intentionally delayed the case for years counting on the probability that Lula would die from old age before the case would be resolved. Lula, at the age of 89, passed on May 9, 2006, three (3) years after she was involuntarily removed from her home and abused by the defendants.
Statistics reveal that every year thousands of senior citizens are victims of various types of abuse. Although elder abuse is not a new problem, it is not something that people should be willing to accept. It cannot be accepted what occurred with Lula, without exposing to the public the corrupt conduct of the various public & private institutions, individuals, as well as the defense lawyers and the two federal judges involved with her case.
Consequently, I believe that any effort that enlightens people about the problem of elder abuse warrants support. Elder abuse is an under recognized problem with devastating and even life threatening consequences. Elder abuse can occur anywhere – in the home, in nursing homes, or other institutions, including within the courts. It affects seniors across all socio-economic groups, cultures, and races. Based on available information, women and “older” elders are more likely to be victimized, as is shown in Lula Baity’s situation.
When our elder citizens are victimized, exploited and abused, we turn to our courts to seek justice, therefore it is particularly egregious when officers of the very court in which we seek refuge for our elders from these abuses are in turn complicit in further victimizing them by blatant judicial bias and prejudicial conduct like that exhibited by Judge Skretny and Magistrate Schroeder.
The example of the denial of justice perpetrated by Judges Skretny and Schroeder against Lula Baity is just one example of the disparity in the treatment dispensed to the poor and powerless as opposed to that given to the privileged and powerful in the federal Western District Court in Buffalo, New York. What occurred in Lula’s case is criminal and it goes much further than being just a violation of her civil and constitutional rights. Before her death, Lula frequently spoke of the fact that she was treated kinder and with more respect during the post-slavery and pre Civil Rights eras, than she has been treated by the actors in this case.
Currently pending and awaiting decision by the Court are the parties’ motions for summary judgment. The Estate of Lula Baity is asking for a judgment in her favor based on defendants violation of her procedural due process rights and false imprisonment for involuntarily seizing and confining her without lawful process. The defendants seek judgment and dismissal of Ms. Baity’s lawsuit on the ground that they did nothing wrong but only sought to give needed assistance to Lula.
What has occurred and continues to occur in Lula Baity’s case has taken place behind closed hospital/nursing home and courtroom doors out of the public eye. There are no cameras or news media. These people are proceeding with callous and unfettered discretion, free to do as they please because there are no checks and balances in place.
All citizens are encouraged to sign the Petition in support of Ms. Baity’s cause and to request that Attorney General Holder investigate Ms. Baity’s case based on the obvious and apparent violation of her civil rights.
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