Kern County court orders senior care service provider to pay $2 million in local elder neglect, wrongful death case

November 3, 2021 | 6:00 am


A Kern County judge has ordered a defendant in a local elder abuse and neglect civil case to pay more than $2 million in connection with the death of an 80-year-old man, longtime teacher, U.S. Army veteran, and husband of 57 years.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles obtained this judgment on behalf of the widow and children of John Paul Owens against Wade Budney of “A Helping Hand Senior Care Services” for the alleged fraud he committed, which ultimately played a role in Paul’s untimely death.

Well into retirement, Paul Owens began to suffer symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. He fell at home in 2017 and subsequently required surgery on his hip. After surgery, Paul was placed in a skilled nursing facility for the sole purpose of rehabilitation. He was supposed to be given therapy daily to regain the strength to walk on his own, and to be able to independently take care of his regular activities of daily living. Paul and wife Carol always planned for Paul to return to his home after this short period of rehabilitation.

Budney allegedly duped Carol Owens into consenting to the transfer of her husband from a skilled nursing facility to a facility with a lower level of care. In litigation, it was revealed that Budney exchanged text messages with the owner of the lower level facility wherein the owner notified Budney that the facility was inappropriate for Paul Owens’ needs. In light of this, text messages revealed that Budney was arranging to have medical records altered so as to make Paul Owens appear to be qualified for care in this facility. It is believed that Budney did the foregoing for his financial gain, which was solely based upon his successful transfer of Paul Owens from one facility to another.

The judgement was entered in Kern County Superior Court on Oct. 7 against Wade Budney doing business as “A Helping Hand.” After the Court reviewed Carol Owens’ evidence and testimony, it awarded $2,011,297.06 to Carol Owens and two of her children, Sharol Stevenson and Randall Owens.

Paul Owens was born in 1937 in Oklahoma. His family moved to McFarland when he was 4 years old, and he graduated from McFarland High School. After school, he served in the U.S. Army and worked as a paratrooper. In 1960, Paul married Carol. He earned his teaching credential in 1962 and would teach for 38 years. He loved cross country running and working with his hands.

“Ms. Owens’ never-ending love for her husband motivated her to unceasingly pursue this case and give him a voice,” said Tanya Alsheikh, elder abuse and neglect attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “We are working to ensure that we hold individuals and companies accountable when they take advantage of a particularly vulnerable portion of our population, when they care more about their profits instead of the dignity and health of that individual who they have a responsibility toward.”

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at chainlaw.com.

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