The Case of R.G. v. R.G.: A Study in the Law of Elder Domestic Violence & Abuse Part Two: The Facts

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ Elder Abuse Attorney

In my prior blog I explained by way of introduction, the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, as applied to the elderly. Now we turn to the facts of the R.G. v. R.G.

Plaintiff and defendant are brothers.  The plaintiff lives in Somerset County near where the parents live.  He is the elderly parents’ power of attorney, and takes care of them, along with the parties’ sister.  Defendant lives in Long Island and is/was not very involved in the decision-making for his parents.

In the spring 2015, the mother contracted pneumonia.  Plaintiff felt that the mother belonged in a skilled care facility due to the complications from the pneumonia, and so he arranged for her to go to a facility.  Defendant objected, arguing she was better off at home with her husband and their father.  He told the plaintiff through text messages and emails that they should explore options for her to live at home.  The plaintiff did not heed this request and told the defendant he was moving the mother to a facility.  Outraged, the defendant began sending angry text messages and emails stating his disgust with the decision, using very coarse and condescending language.  The defendant felt betrayed by the plaintiff’s decision because his thoughts about the situation were not being heeded, and he felt like the plaintiff was hiding details about the situation with the mother, leading him to act the way that he did.

The plaintiff sent the defendant an email explaining how the defendant could visit their mother at the facility and told him when he could come so the plaintiff and defendant did not cross paths.  Despite this, the defendant came to the facility when the plaintiff was there with his wife.  The plaintiff began to talk about the mother with the defendant’s wife.  The defendant saw this and charged in, calling the plaintiff a liar and holding up his hand as if he were going to slap him.  The brothers argued with each other, and were told to leave the facility.  While arguing outside, plaintiff asked defendant if he would hit him in front of their parents and the defendant shoved him multiple times.  Police were then called in and defendant was charged with simple assault.

During the hearing for a restraining order, it came out that the defendant had a prior restraining order entered against him in New York for hitting his adult son in the face.  There was no history of domestic violence between the brothers until this situation started with the mother falling ill.  The trial court entered the restraining order, finding the defendant harassed the plaintiff, which is a predicate act required under the two-prong Silver test.  The court also found that plaintiff’s safety was threatened and the restraining order was necessary to prevent further abuse to him.  While the brothers did not reside with one another, the court held that the brothers lived together at one point, making them former household members and therefore subject to the protections of the act.

In our next edition, I will talk about prior acts of domestic violence and whether the court could admit the testimony concerning the prior acts of domestic violence.

To discuss your NJ Elder Abuse matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.  Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.