Janet Phelan, Contributing Writer
Hot on the heels of a groundbreaking decision by L. A. Superior Court Judge Reva Goetz to restrain an esteemed medical doctor from reporting elder abuse of conservatee Jean Tanaka, further evidence has surfaced suggesting negligence on the part of Tanaka’s conservator, Linda Cotterman.
Dr. Laura Moire’s courtroom testimony on March 3 in the conservatorship matter of Jean Tanaka detailed numerous issues where she deemed the care being given Tanaka by Cotterman to be negligent. Dr. Moire is considered an expert in elder abuse and is a founder of the Geriatric Division of the American College of Emergency Medicine, a founding member of the American College of Forensic Medicine as well as a member of the White House Conference on Aging, among numerous other honors and affiliations.
When the court ignored Moire’s testimony, the doctor then called Adult Protective Services and the police on March 30, 2011. This action incurred a swift and decisive response by Judge Reva Goetz, who then legally restrained Moire from further involvement in the matter of Jean Tanaka. As a physician, Moire is a mandated reporter of elder abuse. Attorney Robert Canny has called this action by Goetz as effectively overturning the First Amendment to the US Constitution and Article 1, Section 2 of the California Constitution. Canny is the lawyer for Jean Tanaka’s daughter, Jeannie.
More indications of negligence by Cotterman have surfaced recently. The Salem News has obtained an email sent by Linda Cotterman to Jeannie Tanaka, in which Cotterman defends the diet being given Jean Tanaka, particularly the fact that Tanaka is being fed nuts. Tanaka has a documented condition of diverticulitis and nuts are strictly forbidden for those who are suffering from this condition. In an email dated May 23, Cotterman wrote: “No, your mother is not being fed raw nuts, only cooked nuts in muffins which she has been eating for the past year with no problems.”
An outraged Jeannie Tanaka responded :
“DR. MOIRE FOUND PROBLEMS AND TESTIFIED RE MAMA’S WHITE BODY CELL COUNT.
ARTICLE AFTER ARTICLE STATE THAT NUTS ARE PROHIBITED.
THE PHYSICIAN WHO PERFORMED MAMA’S COLON CANCER SURGERY SPECIFICALLY SAID NO NUTS, SEEDS, CORN FOR MAMA!!! I TOLD THIS TO LC AND SHE HAD THEM ON A LIST OF PROHIBITED FOODS WHICH SHE GAVE TO HER CAREGIVERS. SO NOW THE CHANGE???! “
According to medical experts, nuts are to be stringently avoided by those with diverticulitis, whether the nuts are cooked or not.
A call to Cotterman’s attorney, Scott Schomer, resulted in a brief interchange. Schomer stated that “You are not an honest reporter.” He then went on to suggest that it would be beneficial for “us to sit down and discuss your coverage of the Tanaka matter.” This reporter agreed, suggesting to begin with the matter of nuts and diverticulitis. Schomer then hung up.
Dr. Moire had previously mentioned a number of concerns surrounding Cotterman’s care of Jean Tanaka, including the forcible removal of Jean Tanaka from her spacious Westwood home and subsequent confinement in a small basement apartment. Dr. Moire was also critical of the discontinuation of physician prescribed supplements which had previously stabilized Mrs. Tanaka’s blood pressure, normalized her cholesterol levels, built bone density, and strengthened her immune system and cognitive functioning. Dr. Moire noted that the discontinuance was followed by back -to- back urinary infections, four collapses and several hospitalizations. She has reportedly suffered weight loss, lack of basic dental care, isolation and restrictive monitoring of highly limited visits with her daughter, Jeannie, who must now pay $100 an hour to see her mother.
Both Dr. Moire and Jeannie Tanaka have expressed concern that the decision apparently made by Linda Cotterman to put Jean Tanaka on “comfort care”– when there is no documented terminal condition — will shorten the elderly woman’s life. “Comfort care” is generally initiated when one is terminally ill and involves the discontinuation of treatments, such as supplements, which support life and the initation instead of palliative care.
The debate about conservatorships continues to rage on as a grassroots group plans for a national action in DC this June. Go to http://stopelderabuse.ning.com/ for more information.
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