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In re McQuinn

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

March 30, 2015

In re CONSERVATORSHIP OF DESSA L. McQUINN

Session October 28, 2014

Appeal from the Chancery Court for Hamilton County No. 13-G-127 W. Frank Brown III, Chancellor

Jacqueline D. Cameron, Cartersville, Georgia, appellant, pro se.

No appearance by or on behalf of appellee.

Charles D. Susano, Jr., C.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John W. McClarty and Thomas R. Frierson, II, JJ., joined.

OPINION

CHARLES D. SUSANO, JR., CHIEF JUDGE

I.

McQuinn was admitted to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga on July 15, 2013 for confusion and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). She was transferred on July 22, 2013, from Erlanger to The Bridge, a nursing home in Monteagle (the nursing home). Cameron filed a petition for appointment of a conservator for McQuinn on September 13, 2013. Her petition alleges as follows in pertinent part:

Upon information and belief, [McQuinn] is in need of the appointment of a Conservator because there has been some suspicious activity by Sara Ann Ford, . . . who currently has Power of Attorney for the Respondent . . . and because of Respondent‟s declining health and impaired cognitive skills, she needs more assistance with all activities of daily living, and she has senile dementia; and the need to have someone help manage her financial and medical affairs.
Further, your Petitioner is the Respondent‟s daughter, and she believes that her mother‟s best interests are not being met by the current Power of Attorney, that Sara Ann Ford is making statements to Respondent that are upsetting, and that your Petitioner believes that it would be in the Respondent‟s best interest that Sara Ann Ford be restrained from any contact with Respondent. Your Petitioner is willing and able to move back to Chattanooga, Tennessee to help her mother.
As a result of the Respondent‟s disability, it is believed that there are circumstances such as dementia and paranoia that . . . will likely result in substantial harm to the Respondent‟s health, safety or welfare and therefore, an Emergency Conservator should be appointed to make any immediate decisions necessary to insure Respondent's health and safety and to preserve her assets.

Attached to the petition was the sworn examination report of Dr. Jon Cohen, who examined McQuinn on July 19, 2013. Dr. Cohen's report states that McQuinn showed impaired cognitive function and poor memory, insight and understanding. It further notes that "her paranoid delusions pose a risk to others, potentially" and "she cannot reliably follow medical recommendations." Dr. Cohen suggested that McQuinn should have a conservator appointed because of the "risk of severe health decline or death if not properly supervised." His diagnosis was senile dementia, complicated by paranoid delusions, and he stated that McQuinn was "unlikely to show any significant improvement in the foreseeable future."

In her petition, Cameron asked the trial court to appoint a guardian ad litem for McQuinn; to void the general power of attorney executed by McQuinn to Sara Ann Ford on February 7, 2013; to issue a restraining order prohibiting Ford from having contact with McQuinn; and to appoint Cameron as conservator. On September 18, 2013, Cameron filed her affidavit alleging in pertinent part as follows:

That [McQuinn's] health has deteriorated considerably while residing [at the nursing home], and [she] has lost much weight;
That I have noticed a loss of weight from one week to another, and when I was at The Bridge Nursing Home this weekend to visit my mother, she had not been bathed, and was not eating.

* * *

That I have observed urine on the floors in the hall of the facility and have never seen any person cleaning the halls or the rooms at The Bridge when I have been there to visit.
That my mother is in a very weakened state and I am afraid that she will not survive if she has to continue to stay at The Bridge Nursing Home.
That my mother has told me that she is in a "prison" and wants to go back to the hospital where she was previously hospitalized.
That it is my intention to move my mother by ambulance at the very first opportunity in an effort to get her the medical help that she so desperately needs but cannot do so for herself.

The trial court entered an order on September 18, 2013, appointing Cameron as emergency conservator, attorney Rebecca Woods as McQuinn's guardian ad litem, and attorney Steve Tepley as McQuinn's attorney ad litem.

On September 23, 2013, a status conference took place before the trial court. The trial court later entered an order providing in pertinent part as follows:

[P]resent before the court for a status conference were Stephen O. Tepley, Attorney ad litem for Dessa L. McQuinn, Mitchell Meeks, Attorney for [Cameron], Rebecca Siera Woods, Guardian ad litem, and Ronald Berke, long term ...

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