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Smith v. Iowa Department of Human Services (755 N.W.2d 135)

Iowa-elderly-man-nursing-home-abuse-200x300Articles: Iowa

Smith v. Iowa Department of Human Services (755 N.W.2d 135)

CASE:
Smith v. Iowa Department of Human Services (755 N.W.2d 135)
PARTIES:
Plaintiff (Appellee) – Smith
Defendant (Appellant) – Iowa Department of Human Services
COURT:
Supreme Court of Iowa (2008)
PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
Smith was investigated by the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA) and found to have committed dependant adult abuse. A trial court affirmed the findings. Smith appealed.
SUMMARY OF FACTS:
E.M. was a ninety year old man with multiple health issues. While housed in a nursing facility, the defendant, Anisa Smith, was one of his caretakers. It became apparent that E.M. developed amorous feelings for Smith. On a couple of occasions E.M. placed his hands on Smith’s legs. On March 18, 2005, Smith alerted her supervisor, the director of nursing, to the conduct. At that time, Smith was told to avoid contact with E.M. On March 20, Smith had nearly completed her shift and instead of helping other caretakers until her shift was over (which was the policy of the facility), Smith went into E.M.’s room. Another staff member outside of E.M.’s room overheard E.M. say to Smith “When are we going to have a night like last night?” When that, along with two other staff members entered E.M.’s room they observed Smith sitting next to E.M. with his hand on her inner thigh.

The health care facility notified the DIA of the incident and the DIA initiated an investigation. They concluded that Smith had committed dependent adult abuse by sexually exploiting E.M. Smith then requested a hearing.

 

OUTCOME AT TRIAL:
The trial court found that Smith allowed E.M. to place his hand on her inner thighs “for the purpose of arousing or satisfying the sexual desires of either Smith or E.M.,” amounting to dependant adult abuse by sexual exploitation.
ISSUES ON APPEAL:
Was the DIA’s finding of dependent adult abuse supported by substantial evidence?
SUPREME COURT HOLDINGS:
Yes
RELEVANT APPLICATION OF LAW:
“Sexual exploitation requires a caretaker to engage in sexual conduct, either consensual or nonconsensual, with a dependent adult for the purpose of arousing or satisfying the sexual desires of the caretaker or the dependent adult. The conduct specifically includes touching certain areas of the body, including the inner thigh and groin.”- Iowa Code § 235B.2(5)(a)(3)

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