A once-unlicensed nursing home facility that allegedly confined an aging, once-prominent judge in an unheated room, allowing him to freeze to death in the winter, has agreed to settle the wrongful death lawsuit for $750,000.
It’s the last chapter for a popular Brooklyn, NY man once called the “kung fu judge” for his black belt in karate. The settlement was announced seven years to the day of his death.
However, a complaint filed by his family members is still pending with the local district attorney’s office. They say the center needs to be investigated for ongoing violations – including continuing to keep aging patients without heat or other basic necessities.
According to court records, the facility operated without a license for approximately six years before obtaining one in 2012 – four years after decedent’s death. The facility apparently tried to obtain one in 2009, but was denied by the health department because the application was not properly completed. In New York, operating a nursing home facility without a license is a criminal misdemeanor. However, no charges were ever filed against the facility.
What’s worse, the family of the former judge alleges the only reason the center obtained a license now was so that it could quickly close. With a license, it has the legal authority to issue eviction notices to the approximately 100 patients who reside there, meaning they would have to be out in 90 days or less. Without that license, it would have taken the center much longer to close. The property is reportedly being sold to a developer.
The lawsuit filed by the judge’s relatives in state supreme court in 2010 alleged the elderly man was confined against his will in the unheated room. Family members said they were blocked from visiting him. He reportedly was blocked from seeing his doctor as well. The owner of the facility told them at the time he was being confined due to a court order. However, at no time was the facility ever able to produce any legal documents to that effect.
Relatives would later discover the facility also failed to provide him with a diabetic diet.
In the room where he died, records showed there had been no heat for two weeks.
All of this came after the judge, who served for 17 years on the bench, was declared mentally incompetent in 2000. A court-appointed guardian was ordered to oversee the judge’s estate. But eight years later, that man was disbarred after it was learned he stole nearly $330,000 from the judge’s estate. He also ran up a large debt to the government by failing to file tax returns for his ward for years.
Prior to that, the judge had owned a number of properties, and his estate, when he was declared incompetent, was valued by the IRS at $10 million.
When the judge died at age 83, he was penniless.
The family initially sought $40 million in the wrongful death nursing home abuse case.
Reporters from different publications following up on claims of ongoing problems at the center talked to several residents, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. One woman said residents stay in their rooms because the common facilities – such as the dining room and activities room – are not supplied with heat.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
Family of Brooklyn’s ‘Kung Fu Judge’ wins $750k wrongful death settlement, Feb. 19, 2015, By Mary Frost, Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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