Prior to her death, Eyvon Ambrose had become entirely dependent upon others for her basic care needs. She depended on her granddaughter for basic needs such as dressing, eating, taking medications, using the restroom, attending physician appointments, and diabetes management. Defendant Oroville Hospital agreed to provide Ambrose in-home nursing services for wound care for a pressure injury. The nurses provided home wound care on ten different occasions spanning a period of several months. Ambrose’s wound worsened, she sustained additional wounds, she was hospitalized, and she ultimately died from her wounds and complications.
In response to her heirs’ lawsuit under the Elder Abuse Act, the Hospital filed a summary judgment motion arguing that it could not be liable under the Elder Abuse Act because its nurses did not have “the care or custody” over Ambrose when they provided sporadic in-home nursing services for one condition. After the trial court denied summary judgment, the Hospital retained Horvitz & Levy to file a petition for extraordinary writ relief. The Court of Appeal granted writ relief and ordered that summary judgment be entered in favor of the Hospital. In the first published opinion to meaningfully interpret the California Supreme Court’s landmark case of Winn v. Pioneer Medical Group, Inc. (2016) 63 Cal.4th 148, the Court of Appeal held that providing sporadic in-home medical care to a person who is depending on others for their basic needs, without more, does not create the type of substantial caretaking or custodial relationship with the patient that would permit liability under the Elder Abuse Act.