The Iowa Court of Appeals has ruled in a Scott County case that centered on the definition of abuse. The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals concluded that Meria Burrage committed “dependent adult abuse” when she grabbed the arm of a 95-year-old woman in her care hard enough to leave a bruise on the woman’s arm.
The agency said Burrage knew the woman was susceptible to skin breakdown, yet still grabbed her arm. The district court upheld the finding and required Burrage to be listed on the state Dependent Adult Abuse Registry. She appealed the ruling and the Court of Appeals reversed the decision. The Court of Appeals acknowledged there was a physical injury to the woman when Burrage grabbed her arm –but said for that act to be considered adult abuse requires a finding of specific intent to harm or offensively contact the victim.
The ruling said there are no facts to support a negligent act by Burrage and it ordered her name to be removed from the abuse registry. Justice Mary Tabor issued a dissent in the ruling, saying she believed the agency and the district court correctly interpreted the dependent adult abuse statute as applied to Burrage’s conduct.
See the full rulling here: Abuse appeal PDF