Some of the most powerful evidence in a nursing home abuse lawsuit can be video or audio of the abuse actually occurring.
This is most often obtained by family members or sometimes residents who install hidden cameras. Sometimes they are looking to affirm suspicions. Sometimes they want proof of what they already know.
But rarely is the incriminating footage captured by the perpetrators.
In a recent case out of Massachusetts, this is exactly what happened, according to police.
Authorities say two nursing home aides captured and then posting humiliating videos showing the harassment and assault of vulnerable patients. Those videos were filmed on the aides’ smartphones, and then loaded onto a social media platform called “Snapchat.”
Snapchat is a type of messaging application in which users take a photo or video, upload it to share with certain friends and then decide whether to “let it live” for a time frame of between 1 second and 10 seconds.
Of course what many users don’t realize is that images and videos uploaded to the site aren’t necessarily destroyed completely after loading. The issue is screen capture is possible. Popular smartphone operating systems allow “screen grabs” and sometimes, one can take a picture of the screen with another camera. There are also sometimes ways to store deleted images. Police agencies in particular have this capability with the help of forensic computer technicians.
In this case, some of the videos captured included things like:
- A patient who is sleeping soundly abruptly awoken by one of the aides screaming into her ear;
- That same patient sitting on the toilet, being asked by one of the nursing aides about her sex life and whether she ever smoked marijuana;
- Up close shots of a patient’s teeth under the video caption, “Chuckie’s Bride”;
- One aide crawling into bed with a female patient, hugging her and telling her she loved her as the patient demands she get out.
Other videos depict patients from the ages of 75 to 99 being disrespected and embarrassed.
An acquaintance of one of the aides reported the videos to authorities.
It was only at that time police learned the nursing home itself was already conducting its own separate internal investigation. The nursing home had not alerted authorities yet to the report.
Authorities identified the two nursing aides in the videos they recovered.
The women later told police it was all a job, and they never intended for anyone to be hurt.
A judge, describing the behavior of the two women, described it as “beyond reprehensible.”
They are charged criminally with allowing abuse of an elderly person and assaulting someone over the age of 60. They have since been fired and it’s probable their certifications will be suspended or even revoked. In the meantime, they have been ordered by the court not to work in any facility that offers elder care and have been barred from any contact with the victims.
For the families of those who suffered, it may be possible to recover damages from the nursing home based on a theory of negligent hiring. There could also be an assertion of nursing home negligence for failure to properly supervise aides in their duties.
Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
Police: Aides posted humiliating video of nursing home clients, Aug. 11, 2015, By Lisa Redmond, Lowell Sun
More Blog Entries:
Nursing Home Abuse Discovered With Hidden Camera, 2 Fired and Arrested, 9 Suspended, Aug. 4, 2015, Palm Beach Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog