Doctor Took Financial Advantage of Elderly Patient, Suit Claims
2-15-2019 23:38:00

SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) – A Kaiser doctor and two nurses had a mentally impaired elderly patient sign a durable power of attorney in an attempt to get money from her, according to a suit filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court.

Richard Brannan and Wendy Brannan sued Kaiser Permanente, doing business as Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, James Nguyen, M.D., Helen Nguyen, Frehiwot Z. Tesema and Melissa J. Esmaili for financial elder abuse, unfair business practices, negligence, and negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Richard Brannan, who is in his late 80s, is the husband of Misako Pexton. Both Richard and Wendy Brannan “were agents for [Pexton] on her Advanced Health Care Directive on file with Kaiser,” according to the action.

Defendant doctor Nguyen was Pexton’s Kaiser physician, and defendants Tesema and Esmaili are registered nurses at Kaiser, the suit states. 

Pexton was reportedly cognitively impaired and had chronic back pain. Dr. Nguyen prescribed pain medication for her, including morphine, which caused additional cognitive impairment, the suit claims.

Dr. Nguyen and his wife, defendant Helen Nguyen, became friends with Pexton, frequently visiting at her house and bringing their children along, who called Pexton “grandma,” the action alleges.

The Nguyens asked Pexton for money and she gave them money several times since March 2015, according to the suit. 

In February 2017, Pexton became seriously ill, the action states, and she was rushed to defendant Kaiser’s Santa Teresa facilities, where she spent several days and nights.

During this time, Pexton was significantly cognitively impaired, including having hallucinations, not remembering where she was, not understanding basic information and “even stating that her date of birth was in February 2017 before realizing this could not be,” the suit claims.

On Feb. 14, 2017, at around 9:30 a.m., defendant doctor Nguyen and defendants Tesema and Esmaili came into Pexton’s room and had her sign a durable power of attorney for financial matters, with the two nurses serving as witnesses of the signing, according to the action. At no time was the purpose of the form explained to Pexton, who was “unaware of her surroundings and was not wearing her reading glasses,” the plaintiffs say. 

Both plaintiffs say they were in the room at the time of the incident and Nguyen refused to reveal what the document was when Richard Brannan asked, but simply walked out of the room instead. Around noon, Nguyen reportedly showed the power of attorney document to the nurses at the nurses’ station “putting him in charge” of Pexton.

At the time of the signing, the plaintiffs sought help from Kaiser administrators, who did not respond until 2 p.m., the suit states. A meeting was set for 3 p.m., but Wendy Brannan says she was aware that the administrators appeared to be doubtful, incredulous and disbelieving during the meeting. Wendy Brannan then called the San Jose Police at 4 p.m., the action states.

The following day, the plaintiffs were told the power of attorney had been rescinded through another letter signed by Pexton. The doctor who replaced Nguyen handed the letter to Pexton to be signed, “knowing she was incompetent, after being directed to do so by Kaiser administration as the floor nurses had refused to deliver the document to [Pexton],” the action alleges.

Richard and Wendy Brannan retained legal counsel on behalf of Pexton to protect her interests, the suit states.

Richard and Wendy Brannan seek compensatory and punitive damages, interest and legal costs. They are represented by Stephen J. Usoz of Holmes & Usoz LLP in San Jose, California.