May 25, 2018 • By Dennis Beaver
“Mr. Beaver, many years ago you wrote a touching article about a young CPA who was horribly injured in a bicycle accident. Why, I cannot tell you, but for some reason I remembered that story.
“Two months ago my nephew, Brian, was struck by a pick-up truck owned by a power company. The driver was on his cell phone, distracted and did not see Brian or any of the other cyclists with him. The parallels of Brian’s injuries to your article are stunning, as are the potential family issues.
“If you can find that story, and your editors will run it again, a great public service will be accomplished, in addition, I hope, a message sent to my nephew’s family.”
We found the article.
There can be times when a parent must take charge, no matter how old their child has become. This is the story of one parent who did not.
In 1989 Rudy was a successful 28 year-old CPA. Handsome, a great sense of humor, a lovely girlfriend, Becky, nice car, in short, he earned many of the rewards that come with hard work.
Saturday afternoons were a special time for Rudy and Becky, as both enjoyed cycling. She was little more than 20 feet from him when he was struck by a bus that made an illegal left hand turn. She remained with him as he was air evacuated to a neurological intensive care unit in Sacramento.
Becky held his hand and talked to Rudy softly – through tears – for the weeks that he remained in a coma.
Upon awakening, it was to a world in which he would learn to walk with a cane, gaze at a paralyzed right arm, and to a voice which made him sound intoxicated. Brain damage can erase that which gives us our humanity, taking away logic, reasoning and self-control. These things were taken from Rudy. But through it all, his charm and strong personality remained. It would prove to be his undoing.
The lawsuit against the bus company was settled for several million dollars, enough to easily provide a comfortable life. But in the space of five years, Rudy’s net worth fell to $150,000. But how could this happen?
“My son’s first lawyer in Los Angeles urged him to put the money into insurance annuities which would pay out so much a month for life, with money left for his heirs,” Rudy’s mother explained. “But he insisted on managing his own finances, finding an investment adviser who helped him sink $500,000 into a failing bowling alley, then $250,000 in a mini-mall that was never built, and finally, almost $500,000 into various high risk investments, all of which failed.”
Rudy also was receiving $10,000 each month in “spending money,” as his parents explained. Craving attention and friends, spend, he did. To his impaired-mind, it was a way to retrieve lost self-confidence. “While the money lasted, our son had so many friends,” his mother related, adding, “He just would not listen to me.”
This bailiff had no sense of humor
Rudy was referred to our office following his court appearance for a reckless driving ticket which turned into ‘assault on a peace officer.’ With his one good arm, suddenly he began swinging the cane above his head, shouting, ‘I’m just raising a little Cain!’
“I didn’t know that bailiffs have such a poor sense of humor,” Rudy told me, oblivious to how close he came to being shot.
The nightmare was avoidable with a conservatorship.
When the extent of their son’s brain damage was known, this nightmare could have been avoided with a court-ordered conservatorship being established, as our legal system seeks to protect people from the effects of their own disabilities.
Had a conservator (or guardians as it is known in some states) been appointed, only safe investments would have been permitted. Rudy would have most likely been declared incompetent to manage his own affairs, safeguarding him from entering into most contracts. His conservator would have been required to see to it that some sense of order was maintained in his life. The power of our legal system would have been used to protect Rudy from others and from himself had his mother or other family members acted, then.
It is in the nature of things for parents to gradually let go, to replace “Mommy” with “Mom,” “Daddy” with “Dad,” a handshake or hug instead of a kiss.
Yet, in the hearts of good parents, our children are still young and small. And in need of our protection.
Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and enjoys hearing from his readers. Contact Dennis Beaver.