The Family Battle: Fighting the Good Fight

I am grateful to have represented Kerri Kasem and have written this so that the world would know:

Casey Kasem did indeed make his wishes for end of life care known.

Casey Kasem signed a Health Care Directive in 2007 it named his daughter Julie and her husband as his first choice for the people he wanted to make Health Care Decisions for him and then named Kerri Kasem as his second choice.

Casey Kasem loved his children from his first marriage and had a good relationship with them. He visited with them often until Jean Kasem his second wife prevented Casey from seeing both friends and family whom he knew and loved.

Casey Kasem’s second wife Jean isolated Casey Kasem from friends and family. Isolation is Elder Abuse, and neither a wife, an agent under a health care directive nor a conservator has the right to keep someone from seeing their friends and family.

Jean Kasem did not want Casey Kasem to see his children from his first marriage, his brother or friends even the friends he had known for 63 years.

Kerri Kasem and her sister Julie Kasem truly loved their dad.

Everything Kerri Kasem did inside and outside court was so their dad would get the best care possible and not suffer.

Kerri Kasem did everything she could to make it possible for the family to drop their differences, but in the end their step mother Jean did not want to drop the fight.

Kerri, Julie and Mike Kasem were all with their dad praying with him on Father’s Day as he took his last breath.

Casey Kasem was indeed fortunate to have children who loved him so much.

There was truly nothing he could have done to prevent the family fight.

Through Kerri I was able to truly get to know Casey Kasem as a man who valued hard work, education, integrity and standing up for what you believe in.  Kerri Kasem fought to see her dad, to make sure he did not die alone, and is still fighting so that other adult children will have the right to visit their parents.  Please support her efforts and the Kasem Cares Foundation.

Thank you, Casey Kasem, for reminding me to "Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars".

Inside the Casey Kasem Conservatorship

On October 15, 2013, the first hearing of the Conservatorship of Casey Kasem was held in Los Angeles Superior Court. As I watched the family fight unfold, I wondered if it was avoidable. As a Certified Elder Law Attorney who helps families with loved ones who are showing signs of dementia or other mental lapses, I often suggest having signed powers of attorney. If Julie and Kerri Kasem had not had their dad sign an Advanced Health Care Directive in 2007, it would have been difficult if not impossible for Julie and later Kerri to prove that Casey Kasem ever wanted his children to decide his care for him.

The only issue before the Court at that  time was if there are circumstances warranting the appointment of a temporary conservator.  The Court appointed PVP attorney Sam Ingham informed Judge Roy Paul that his client was being well cared for, and requested that his report be sealed to protect his client’s right to privacy of his medical information. At that time attorney Ingham had only seen his client once, and had not yet reviewed the medical records.  Later he became more concerned about Casey’s care and the isolation from his daughters.

Casey Kasem had previous in 2007 an Advance Health Care Directive naming his daughter Julie Kasem as the person he wanted to make Health Care decisions for him.  Julie’s attorney stated the document was signed at a UPS store because Casey Kasem did not want his wife involved. 

Casey Kasem’s daughters were right to be concerned when Casey’ current wife Jean Kasem suddenly cut off all communication between him and his daughters from his first marriage. Isolating someone who is suffering from any illness, and worse when someone suffers from any amount of mental impairment, is a sign that something is desperately wrong.  Isolation is always a result of failing relationships among family (and friends).  Isolation can be a sign of Elder Abuse, or it can possibly be a result of a desire to protect a loved one from real or perceived danger.  

At the first hearing Jean Kasem’s attorney produced a 2011 Advance Health Care Directive prepared as part of an Estate Plan; and filed a declaration from that Estate Planning Attorney stating that Casey Kasem understood and knew what he was signing. Her attorney hoped the Court would dismiss the Conservatorship as the new Health Care Directive revoked the old one.  Of course, life is never that simple.  The fight proceeded in Court and ultimately a Judge decided on the validity of the documents presented, and who would make decisions for Casey Kasem when he is no longer capable of deciding for himself. 

The court determined that Casey Kasem lacked capacity to make his own medical decisions.  The first Petition filed by Julie Kasem was dropped after she reached a settlement with Jean Kasem which allowed Julie to visit her dad.  However, by late December 2013, Jean had already breached this agreement and had moved Casey somewhere else and did not tell anyone where he was.

On April 27, 2014, Kerri Kasem had discovered that her father was at a Convalescent Hospital in Santa Monica, so she asked the facility to allow her in to see her dad. That request was denied, so Kerri brought a cake, balloons, and cards for her dad’s birthday she held a vigil outside the facility. She was not allowed to see her dad. The facility did take the balloons, and cards to Casey’s room. Later when Kerri and I were in his room the balloons and cards were there making his room bright. It was clear he knew she had tried to visit him for his birthday.

Martha Patterson met Kerri Kasem May 3, 2014 while doing an interview on the Gurvey's Law radio show. Kerri told her how heartbreaking it was that she had to stay outside a Skilled Nursing Facility and sing to her dad, Casey Kasem, for his birthday because her step mom Jean Kasem would not let her see him.  As a Certified Elder Law Attorney, Martha Patterson knew the facility could not prohibit visits from family members. Martha knew that in the prior Conservatorship, the Court-appointed attorney Sam Ingham and Judge Lesley Green both stated that Casey wanted to see his children.  Here is Martha’s interview on that show: http://www.kabc.com/upload/mp3/Gurveys%20Law/GurveysLaw5-3.mp3

Martha accompanied Kerri to the facility and brought a request for visitation. The director of the facility stated that as the Agent under an Advance Health Care Directive, Jean had the right to say who could visit and who was not allowed to visit and that Kerri and Julie were not allowed to visit. Martha Patterson pointed out that as of January 1, 2014, the law was clear that even under Probate Code 2351, not even a Court Appointed Conservator has the right to limit visitors and that an agent under a Health Care Directive, who has even less authority, and certainly does not have the power to deny visitation.

The director reviewed the law and allowed Kerri to visit. Kerri then called her sister Julie and they both were able to visit their dad. Words cannot express how happy Casey was to see his daughters or how happy Kerri and Julie were to see their dad.  He told them he loved them and was able to kiss both of them goodbye. As they left, he had tears in his eyes. The facility told us Jean had called the police to attempt to force them to leave their dad’s room. The sisters left quietly, as they knew a Court hearing was scheduled the next day.

In the middle of that very night at approximately 2:45a.m., Jean Kasem came to the facility and had Casey and his medical equipment carried out to a waiting car.  The facility asked Jean to sign that she was removing him against medical advice, she refused.  The facility called Adult Protective Services, who later came to the gated and secured home Casey and Jean owned in Holmby Hills, APS to see Casey, they were denied that visitation and were told he was okay, so they then left. Here is Kerri Kasem talking about the visitation go to these links:

http://www.kabc.com/upload/mp3/Gurveys%20Law/GurveysLaw5-3.mp3

http://www.kasemcaresfoundation.org/kerri-kasem-2/casey-kasems-daughter-i-saw-him-last-week-an

http://www.trust.org/item/20140610000449-xm4pq/ d-it-was-wonderful/ 

On May 7, 2014, Martha Patterson, along with her co-counsel Troy Martin, went to Court seeking an Ex Parte Order appointing Kerri Kasem as Temporary Conservator and seeking an order that pending further hearing that Casey Kasem could not be moved. While waiting for the Judge to have time to review the papers, Martha Patterson received a call informing her that Casey had been removed from the facility.  The Judge was informed that Casey had been moved, however, the motion was not to be heard that day, for in almost every circumstance parties are entitled to 5 day notice so the hearing was set for Monday May 12, 2014.

On May 9, 2014 Martha Patterson and Kerri Kasem received credible information that Jean Kasem was trying to take Casey to an Indian Reservation in Washington State.  Kerri, along with her attorneys Martha Patterson and Troy Martin tried valiantly to prevent Casey from being flown out of state.  At that time we did not know that Jean had elected to drive Casey Kasem to Las Vegas and then Arizona, and that ultimately she flew him from Las Vegas to Washington State.


On Monday May 12, 2014, in Los Angeles Superior Court, it was reported that Casey Kasem is "out of the Country" and that Jean Kasem's attorney did not know where he was. Kerri Kasem was appointed Temporary Conservator of the person of Casey Kasem; so at that point legally Kerri was then in charge of all legal decisions regarding the physical and medical care of her dad. She was given the right to Casey Kasem’s medical records, and Jean’s attorney was ordered to inform the court of Jean and Casey’s address.

In order to locate Casey Kasem, Kerri Kasem asked the media for help.  Martha Patterson was quoted on ABC, CBS, NBC, Good Morning America and other media sources as saying “Isolation is the most common form of abuse”. Sadly, as a Certified Elder Law Attorney, Martha Patterson often hears too often about Elder Abuse. The stories are similar: Someone in the family is “helping”, and the parent become increasingly dependent on that spouse or child; the “helper” takes over, rarely if ever allowing others to see the vulnerable elder; and as time goes on, the “helper” makes sure their name is on bank accounts, stock accounts and even deeds to real property; and of course the elder’s money is used to buy things for the “helper”.  This process can take from days to years.  Meanwhile, the other family members worry; they try to see their loved one and are prevented from doing so.

Casey Kasem tried to plan for his own incapacity. He signed a healthcare directive naming his daughter Julie and her husband Jamil as his first choice of people to make decisions if he was no longer able, then if Julie and Jamil could not serve he named his daughter Kerri and then his son Mike.  In 2011, new documents were prepared naming Jean Kasem as the person to make those decisions.  Like many families where there are signs of elder abuse, there are competing Advance Health Care Directives and Powers of Attorney.

To see parts of the Martha Patterson interview on Good Morning America go to:

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/casey-kasem-missing-23693404

https://gma.yahoo.com/where-world-casey-kasem-115901297--abc-news-topstories.html

To hear Kerri’s update after the first hearing go to http://www.kabc.com/upload/mp3/Gurveys%20Law/GurveysLaw5-10.mp3

When a person suspects their parent is being abused they are sadly almost always right. If you suspect elder abuse you need to take action.  Conservatorships are the best option for protecting a vulnerable adult.  Unfortunately, no plan is perfect because those who abuse elders  get documents such as trusts, deeds, powers of attorney etc. from the internet or the non-attorney document assistants, or even attorneys and have the elder sign them and then use them to steal.  Sadly everything a good attorney uses for good can be used for evil.

Casey Kasem was finally located at a private home in Washington State.  Kerri Kasem discovered his location late on Wednesday May 14, 2014.  The authorities reported that Casey Kasem was fine and that his wife Jean Kasem had brought him to Kitsap County for a vacation.  The thought of someone who was bedridden and who needed a feeding tube going on a vacation is ludicrous. Kerri Kasem obtained records from the Home Health Agency, the Doctor providing care, those records clearly showed that Casey Kasem had a stage 3 bedsore as well as various infections, and Jean did not have the food used for a feeding tube and had instead used Ensure until the doctor finally provided her with the correct nutrition for the feeding tube.

Sam Ingham, the Court Appointed PVP attorney, reviewed the medical records and on May 20, 2014, the Court granted, at Mr. Ingham’s request, additional powers including express authority to take Casey Kasem to a hospital for evaluation, express authority for Kerri to travel to the State of Washington to be with her father, authority for Kerri Kasem to use private investigators to assist her in getting in to see her father, and the Court also revoked Jean Kasem’s Medical Power of Attorney, making it clear that the only person who could make decisions regarding Casey Kasem was indeed Kerri Kasem.

On May 23, 2014, Jean Kasem was served with the Orders of the Los Angeles Superior Court which had been registered in Washington State, making them enforceable by the Washington State Courts. Jean Kasem refused to allow Kerri Kasem to come into the home to see her dad, and also refused to allow Casey to be taken to a hospital for evaluation. Fortunately, Martha Patterson had used her connections as an Elder Law Attorney to find a great attorney in Washington state, Scott Winship; and he had Jean served with an order to show cause as to why she did not need to obey the Court Orders, and on May 30, 2014, the Judge set the matter for a hearing on June 6, 2014. The Judge also put in place orders allowing Kerri to visit her dad, and most importantly ordering that Jean allow Kerri to take Casey to a hospital.  

Scott Winship and Jean’s attorneys arranged for Kerri Kasem to have her dad picked up on June 2, 2014, to be taken to Saint Anthony’s Hospital for evaluation.  Kerri Kasem, as always, was the epitome of class as she came with her court orders and her attorney to take her dad to the hospital. Jean Kasem and Liberty Kasem yelled at Kerri as she was having her father loaded into an ambulance, and then Jean threw a piece of meat at Kerri as Jean continued her tirade of verbal abuse. Kerri did not yell back, she kept focused on taking care of her dad.

Casey Kasem arrived at the hospital in very poor health.  The doctors decided, despite Jean Kasem’s objections and demand that Casey be returned to the place he was staying, Casey needed to be kept overnight, and by Monday June 3, 2014, the doctors had prescribed intervenious antibiotics.  On Tuesday June 4, 2014, optimistic that Casey Kasem would improve enough to come back to Los Angeles, Martha Patterson and Troy Martin set in place the paperwork necessary for the court to approve Casey Kasem’s return to Los Angeles, that hearing date set for June 9, 2014.  Hearings on motions filed to be relieved as her counsel by the attorneys who had been representing Jean Kasem were also set for that same date.

Alas, by Wednesday June 4, Casey had declined substantially; it was “A night not like any other night”.  No one knew if Casey would make it through the night, yet even with all the hatred and anger Jean had shown toward Kerri, none the less, Kerri, through her attorney, offered to make it possible for Jean to visit Casey one more time; for at that time, the hospital had refused to allow Jean to visit after Jean tried to remove Casey and had caused a scene.  Scott wrote after leaving the hospital late that night ,“I have to say, though, it made my night to see how much Kerri and Julie love their dad… He’s lucky to have them.”  Truer words have not been written.

In ironies  of ironies, Jean Kasem the attempted to have the Judge to hold Kerri in contempt because she did not have Casey returned to the home in Kitsap, the same thing Jean had done when she removed him from the Santa Monica nursing home against medical advice! The Judge quietly affirmed the visitation schedule the hospital had set up, and the contempt hearing for June 6 was yet to be heard. On that date, Jean Kasem was held in contempt for failing to obey the Los Angeles Superior Court’s orders, and the Judge affirmed that Kerri Kasem was the person responsible for making decisions regarding Casey Kasem.  

However, by June 6, 2014, the world knew Casey was gravely ill and not expected to live much longer.

As Martha Patterson drove to Court on Monday June 9, 2014, she knew, as did everyone, Casey would never come home and she wondered if he would pass as the matter was being heard.  She knew the doctors at Saint Anthony Medical Center had told the family nutrition and hydration were no longer recommended as they were causing Casey physical harm and distress.  Kerri after consulting with the doctors and the members of Casey’s family who had been with him since his June 1 admission (Jean had only visited once after the hospital told her that she could not take Casey to the home in Washington), agreed to follow the doctors’ recommendations and removed the nutrition and hydration, and the doctors ordered comfort measures be put in place so Casey would not be in any pain.  Martha Patterson and Troy Martin expected that the only thing that would occur in court that day would be withdrawing their request to move Casey Kasem home.

On June 9, 2014, a motion brought by Jean Kasem, with no notice to Kerri Kasem or to her attorneys or to Samuel Ingham attorney for Casey Kasem, requesting a restoration of nutrition and hydration.  Jean Kasem asserted that Casey had only wanted nutrition and hydration removed if his brain was no longer functioning.  Jean Kasem had a declaration from a physician who last saw Casey prior to his hospitalization on June 1, 2014.  Jean claimed that by withdrawing nutrition and hydration Kerri was killing Casey, and the physician claimed that Casey Kasem was improving under Jean’s care, and that it was the trip to the hospital that had caused Casey to decline. Martha Patterson and Troy Martin knew the medical records at Saint Anthony Hospital would prove false those assertions; however there was no opportunity to prepare for that particular motion as no one was given notice.  The only evidence Judge Murphy had before him was the evidence produced by Jean Kasem stating the removal of nutrition and hydration was harmful, so he ordered nutrition and hydration restored.

The staff at Saint Anthony Hospital in Gig Harbor Washington then informed Kerri Kasem that restoring nutrition and hydration would be harmful to her dad, and stated they would not honor the order unless ordered to do so by the Washington Court.  Kerri followed the instructions of the doctors knowing she could face contempt charges.  Kerri and Julie Kasem worked with their attorneys Martha Patterson and Troy Martin to prove that removal of nutrition and hydration was done for Casey’s benefit and that restoring nutrition and hydration would be harmful.

On June 11, 2014, Kerri Kasem filed an Ex Parte request that the Court vacate the Order of June 9, 2014. The Court then vacated its order finding “Kerri Kasem as temporary conservator of the person has been acting in accordance with the express wishes of Casey Kasem as stated in his 2011Advance Health Care Directive. Restoration of artificial nutrition and hydration would be acutely harmful to Casey Kasem.”  Medical records from Saint Anthony’s Hospital showed unequivocally that nutrition and hydration were harmful.

On June 11, 2014, Troy Martin and Martha Patterson were able to convince Judge Daniel Murphy to vacate his order of June 9, 2014. Judge Murphy found that restoring artificial nutrition and hydration for Casey Kasem would be “acutely harmful”  to Casey.  The hardest decision a family ever makes is to listen to the doctors and allow their loved one to receive only comfort measures so their loved one can die in peace. 

There is a misconception that denying artificial nutrition and hydration is equivalent to killing someone.  This is not accurate,  at the end of life some people are unable to absorb fluids or the nutrition.  Providing hydration can cause a person’s lungs to fill with liquid literally creating the same effect as drowning, the artificial nutrition can cause extreme stomach distress since  food is not absorbed as our bodies start shutting down.  According to Casey Kasem’s doctors, Casey was no longer able to absorb fluids and when artificial hydration was administered, his lungs were filling with liquid making the provision of artificial hydration acutely harmful.

Scott Winship, the attorney who is representing Kerri in Washington State, sent a photo of the front of St. Anthony hospital as we were fighting for Casey Kasem and the right to refuse nutrition and hydration. The quote on the front of the hospital read: ‘God has shown you what is good and this is what God requires only this to do justice, to love tenderly , to walk humbly with God” Micah 6:8. The quote so beautifully describes the fight Kerri has been fighting for her dad, one to do justice and to love tenderly and walk humbly.

St. Antony Hospital, Gig Harbor, WA

A personal note:  Kerri Kasem fought the good fight, and in my tribute to Casey I wrote:

I only met Casey once on May 6, 2014 when I was able to help his daughters Kerri and Julie see him, despite the fact that his wife Jean would not allow them to visit their dad.  Yet I feel as though I was able to get to know him as few others, for I saw a father loved by his children, loved by his brother and sister in-law, loved by his close friends, a man who reached for the stars and taught his children to do the same.

I know he loved his children for I heard him say I love you, I know he was grateful that they were able to see him again and to take care of him.

Casey Kasem gave his daughters, especially Kerri, a strength and compassion I rarely see. For despite everything Jean did, Kerri honestly wanted her dad to see Jean and Liberty in his last days, she invited them multiple times to come and visit.  Kerri fought a difficult battle fighting for the right to see her dad, and the right to be with him in his last days. Her time with her dad was cut short by the misdeeds of others, but she made sure his wishes were honored and that he was surrounded by friends and family who were with him, praying with him at the end. Kerri fought hard. She was willing to fight because she loved her dad so much; she was willing to face false accusations of greed and malice, she faced the hatred of her step mother with grace and dignity. Kerri kept her promise to her dad that she would see him again. Kerri Kasem fought for Casey Kasem and made sure that he did not die alone, he was so fortunate to have a daughter who loved him so much.

Casey died on Father's day: He was a great father, for only a great father can teach a daughter to fight for right no matter what anyone says. Yes, indeed he is in a better place, yet he will indeed be greatly missed.

Casey Kasem will forever remind me to "Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars".

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.