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Woman charged with stealing daughter's malpractice settlement

When a health care provider or medical facility in Cleveland settles a medical malpractice claim, or pays a trial verdict, the money has a specific purpose: to put the plaintiff in the same financial position, as much as possible, as he or she was before the allegedly negligent care. The funds are not supposed to be spent by relatives or caregivers for their personal pleasure.

According to a shocking news story, a New York woman is accused of stealing more than $65,000 from a bank account set up for her disabled daughter as part of a medical malpractice settlement. Prosecutors say the mother spent the money on a vacation and shopping, putting her daughter’s financial future at risk.

An article from WCBS-TV says the woman’s child was born with a disability, apparently due to a medical error. She sued and the parties settled in 2007. According to the terms of the settlement, a fund was set up that will begin issuing regular payments to the daughter after she turns 18.

Until then, the daughter’s needs were to be paid for via a bank account with more than $50,000 in it. The mother could make withdrawals from the account, but only with court approval. In March 2015, she asked a judge for permission to withdraw $47,000 from the account, but the judge denied the request.

Allegedly, the mother then forged a document in order to claim the money was for an operation. The judge approved the withdrawal, but there is no record the daughter ever went to the hospital where the surgery was supposed to take place. Instead, prosecutors say, the mother spent the money on a trip to Disneyland.

She is accused of continuing to defraud the court in order to drain the account nearly dry, until it was down to $633.74 and a bank denied her request to withdraw the remaining funds.

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