Elder Law Attorney Sued for Wrongful Death of His Father

Dees Illustration

Janet Phelan
Activist Post

Redlands Probate Attorney J. David Horspool has been sued for the wrongful death of his father, Raymond Horspool, who died under questionable circumstances in 2011.

After putting his father under a conservatorship in 2006, Horspool and sister Margaret Updike proceeded to take a number of actions which alarmed some of their siblings. Raymond was married and living with his wife, Winifred, when conservator Updike had him taken from his home while Winifred was out shopping.

In some states that would be called kidnapping. However, as Raymond was at that juncture a ward of his daughter, Margaret, the court overlooked this breach.

When son William Horspool became concerned that his father was subsequently being neglected, he took some photographs which allegedly showed Raymond Horspool lying in excrement soaked bedding. San Bernardino Probate Judge Michael Welch ordered the photographs destroyed and then issued a Restraining Order against William. In a brazen detour from due process, William Horspool was never granted a hearing on the Restraining order.

The wrongful death lawsuit, filed by Raymond Horspool’s daughter, Barbara Howard, names attorney Horspool, sister Margaret Updike, brother Raymond Horspool, Jr. and Integrated Care Community as defendants. The lawsuit alleges that due to the actions of the defendants, Raymond Horspool suffered malnutrition and starvation. The suit also alleges that J. David Horspool, Margaret Updike and Raymond Horspool, Jr refused to coordinate the replacement of the pacemaker for their father, instead letting it run down.

This reporter has obtained correspondence from cardiologist Dr. Malcolm Pond, dated February 25, 2011, in which he states that he checked the pacemaker in January of 2011 and that it was nearing the end of its charge. He then states that “Margaret has decided for Ray that it is inappropriate to proceed with pacemaker generator replacement…” He further states that “I respect Margaret’s decision not to proceed with pacemaker generator replacement, and support this decision.”


The letter concludes with Dr. Pond stating that Barbara Howard and William Horspool have no say in this matter.

Raymond Horspool died shortly thereafter, on March 13, 2011.

The Riverside County Coroner’s report concerning Raymond Horspool’s demise increases concerns as to the nature and cause of the elderly man’s death. Although noting that Raymond Horspool had been on Morphine and Ativan at the time of his death, the coroner refused to do a toxicology exam on the body, overriding the request by Barbara Howard. The potentiating affects of the mixture of these two drugs are known to cause respiratory failure. In addition, patients who are being given Morphine often decline to eat.

Howard maintains that her father’s body weighed 137 pounds at time of death, a dramatic loss from his usual weight of around 200 pounds. Strangely, the Coroner failed to list the weight of the body in his report, a departure from generally accepted reporting requirements.

When asked why the report failed to contain mandatory body weight information, the Deputy Coroner became combative.

The battle over Raymond Horspool’s assets predate his death. In 2003, prior to the initiation of the conservatorship, Raymond had deeded a piece of property to his son, William. J. David Horspool subsequently persuaded Judge Welch to revoke this grant deed. As a result of this revocation of ownership, William, a retired peace officer, his wife Kelly and three young children were evicted and rendered homeless.

In her objection to the First and Final Report of the Executor, Howard alleges that “It also appears from the court records Ms. Margaret Updike, J. David Horspool and Raymond P. Horspool, Jr. have caused serious and irreparable harm to the Estate of Raymond P. Horspool, Sr. “ Her objections state that “Several beneficiaries have tried without success to obtain the records of the ESTATE and the FAMILY TRUST. None of the following beneficiaries have been able to ascertain exactly what was ESTATE or FAMILY TRUST property. It has been impossible to determine what has happen[ed] to this property.”

Strangely, Raymond Horspool’s Will was lost by the law offices of Horspool and Horspool, according to the court record.

Attorney J. David Horspool was for many years the attorney of record for conservator Melodie Scott. Scott has been linked to a number of deaths by morphine.

The wrongful death suit will be heard in Riverside Superior Court. Attorney J. David Horspool did not reply to calls from this reporter concerning the allegations contained in the lawsuit.

Janet Phelan is an investigative journalist whose articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The San Bernardino County Sentinel, The Santa Monica Daily Press, The Long Beach Press Telegram, Oui Magazine and other regional and national publications. Janet specializes in issues pertaining to legal corruption and addresses the heated subject of adult conservatorship, revealing shocking information about the relationships between courts and shady financial consultants. She also covers issues relating to international bioweapons treaties. Her poetry has been published in Gambit, Libera, Applezaba Review, Nausea One and other magazines. Her first book, The Hitler Poems, was published in 2005. She currently resides abroad.  You may browse through her articles (and poetry) at janetphelan.com

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