AB 2149 Will Ban Gag Clauses from Elder Abuse Settlements
Bill Update: AB 2149 (Butler) was signed by Governor Brown on September 27.
CFC Position: Support
The abuse of elderly people and dependent adults has been on the rise. In 2010, it is estimated that there were over 600,000 cases of senior abuse in California, with 40% of the cases identified as financial. In California, 6.5 million people are over the age of 60 and the state accounted for 10.6% of all elder abuse cases in the United States in 2010.
Enacted in 1991, California’s Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act was enacted to give seniors, dependent adults, and their survivors the right to sue for civil damages when a case of physical or financial abuse occurs.
However, victims are often asked to sign settlement agreements, which include clauses prohibiting the victim or their family from contacting or cooperating with certain government agencies and their investigations. These “gag clauses” – as they are often referred to – prohibit the victim from talking with authorities, which restrains any investigation into the abuse.
If passed, AB 2149 will prohibit “gag clauses” from appearing in the settlement of a civil lawsuit stemming from elder or dependent adult abuse. In cases stemming from physical abuse, neglect or financial abuse, the abuser will no longer be able to hide behind a gag clause. This will allow for the passage of information between the victims and agencies such as Adult Protective Services and local law enforcement so abusers are rightly punished.