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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 MEDIA COVERAGE

CCS represents victim in DUI hit-and-run crash involving Kern County worker

July 15, 2014 | 9:33 am


The Bakersfield personal injury attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles are representing the victim of a car accident involving a Kern County worker who was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, and fled the scene after the collision.

CCS lawyer Matt Clark is the lead attorney on the case, which has been followed closely by local media. He spoke with KERO-23 (ABC) about the case, and also The Bakersfield Californian. See the news segment here, and read the article here.

Local law enforcement authorities say Erik Webb, a worker with the county of Kern, rear-ended another vehicle while in a county-issued truck on July 1, at the 4100 block of Union Avenue near Columbus Street. After the crash, Webb gathered his belongings from the truck and fled the scene, according to police reports.

He was later caught and arrested by law enforcement. Webb remained in Kern County jail until he sobered up, and was then cited and released. Webb was charged with a DUI and hit-and-run resulting in property damage, records from the Kern County Superior Court show.

Representatives from the county of Kern told local media that Webb went into work the day after the crash and told his supervisor what happened, and he was sent home. Webb was also suspended with pay. Webb was placed on administrative leave, and he was not assigned another vehicle.

Photos obtained by Eyewitness News show a crushed Ford F-150 badly damaged in a Kern County yard.

Clark on Monday spoke with KERO-23 news about the case on Monday, speaking on behalf of the injured victim. Police reports show that Webb also told authorities he had been “messing” with his phone prior to the crash. It’s important, Clark said, that drivers not use their phones while driving, and to drive sober — especially if driving a county-issued vehicle.

KERO also reported that Webb had resigned from his position at the county of Kern.

See media reports about the case here:

If you’re involved in a car accident, first, stay calm. If you are injured, and if it is safe to do so, remain inside your vehicle until emergency personnel respond to the scene. Once out of your vehicle, make certain to obtain the other parties personal and insurance information. Often times, the police or California Highway Patrol will do this for you. Also, if there are any witnesses to the accident, be sure to obtain contact information (including name and phone number) for each witness. Later, witnesses can be important to your case. Most importantly, do not speak with an insurance adjuster until you contact Chain | Cohn | Stiles first. Law firm representatives are available by phone and email 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you speak with an insurance adjuster first, oftentimes they will obtain a recorded statement from you, which could be used against you later. It is always best to speak with a lawyer who will protect your rights first.

For more tips and information on car accidents and the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles — including frequently asked questions and answers — visit our specialized car accident website HERE.