A YOUNG Filipina American caregiver faces charges in a lawsuit filed by an Illinois family this week for a Snapchat video that showed her and another caregiver taunting an elderly woman with dementia.
According to court filings, Filipina American certified nursing assistant (CNA) Jamie Montesa recorded a Snapchat video of fellow CNA Brayan Cortez repeatedly throwing a hospital gown at 91-year-old Margeret Collins who tried to wave it away.
Typed on the video along with two laughing emojis was a caption that read, “Margaret hates gowns!”
Family members of Collins were alerted of the incident after another worker at the Abington of Glenview Nursing and Rehab Center shared the video with them last December. Collins has since been moved to another facility, but family members said she suffered anxiety and nightmares from the incident.
Montesa and Cortez were arrested and charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct in January, but face a new civil lawsuit along with the nursing home facility for violating the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, as well as state privacy laws for posting on social media.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday, August 21 for over $1 million and states that the nursing home administrators and managers allowed Montesa and Cortez to “mentally and emotionally” abuse Collins.
Instead of providing care to Collins, the lawsuit added that the two workers further used their “position of power and influence to harass, taunt, bully, degrade and take advantage of Margaret.”
Levin & Perconti, the law firm representing Collins, added that residents with dementia like Collins are often targets of elder abuse due to their diminished ability to speak up and communicate.
“This was a sick game the two CNAs decided to play for their own enjoyment,” attorney John Perconti told local Chicago news outlet WGN-TV. “By filing this lawsuit and pursuing this lawsuit, we will prevent this from happening to other individuals in this facility as well as other facilities.”
Collins’ daughter, Joan Biebel, told WGN-TV that staff at the Abington were aware that Collins disliked wearing gowns and preferred wearing her own clothes.
“If they were in her room, they should have been there for a reason — to help her, assist her — not to exploit her and threaten her and demean her and post it on social media,” Biebel told WGN-TV.
The Washington Post reported police records showing that Cortez told police that he and Collins had an inside joke about her not wanting to wear hospital gowns, and that he was unaware of Montesa recording the video. Montesa reportedly told police that she secretly filmed the incident because she thought Collins was uncomfortable.
In a statement, the nursing home said, “Privacy and dignity of our residents are of the utmost concern at The Abington.”
It added that Montesa and Cortez, after a six-day suspension, were fired for violating the nursing home’s standards and policies.