Legislation to Lower Evidentiary Standards for Elder Abuse Claims Passes Through Assembly

An Assembly Bill that would lower the standard of evidence needed to prove Elder Abuse has moved off the Assembly floor, and is now awaiting committee assignment in the Senate.

AB 859 (Eggman, D-Stockton), which would lower the standard of evidence needed to be proved in a civil court action brought under the Elders and Dependent Adults Civil Protection Act (EDACPA) from “clear and convincing” evidence to a “preponderance of the evidence” narrowly passed out of the Assembly on June 1.

LeadingAge California has strong concerns with this legislation, and are strongly opposed to any lowering the evidentiary standard. The current “clear and convincing” standard is a critical measuring stick for proving abuse and neglect under EADCPA, primarily because civil actions brought and successfully prosecuted under this law have no cap on non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. In 1975, California passed the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), which among other things, capped non-economic damages a plaintiff could be awarded against medical provider at $250,000. Since EADCPA is not subjected to these caps, AB 859 would allow trial attorneys to more easily collect higher damages against medical providers through lowering the evidence needed to prove their case.

LeadingAge California is part of a large coalition of provider, business and tort reform organizations opposed to this bill. We will send out an action alert to members shortly to inform your representatives of how damaging this bill would be to your organization.