Curious Case: The Squires, The Fitzpatricks and…. a Coyote Head?

Here’s a curious case I wrote about years ago on a personal blog. It’s strange enough to warrant repeating here.

Background: For 20 years, 60-year-old Bill Squires and 75-year-old Anna Squires maintained a close relationship with their neighbor, Mary Fitzpatrick. In 2006, however, Ms. Fitzpatrick passed away and her son, David, became the Squires’ new neighbor.

Details: Friction between the Squires and David began shortly after Ms. Fitzpatrick’s funeral. The Squires had lent photos of Ms. Fitzpatrick to David for display at the funeral and, despite multiple polite requests, the Squires’ photos were never returned. The neighbors’ relationship continued to deteriorate and when the parties disagreed over the care of a strip of grass between their properties, the feud – which could have once been classified as a neighborly dispute – escalated to passive-aggressive outbursts and death threats.

Particularly disconcerting was the morning of November 12, 2007, when the Squires stepped out of the front door of their home to find a dead coyote on the hood of their car. The Squires reported that, when they walked out and saw the horrifying scene, David appeared to wait patiently nearby in his own vehicle. When they looked at David, he drove away slowly, while displaying a satisfied grin on his face.

Outcome: Reportedly, the “first strain” (over the Squires’ photographs of Ms. Fitzpatrick) was amplified due to David’s already-existing feud with his sister, Shelley, over their mother’s estate. When the severity of their situation with David escalated, however, the Squires pressed charges.

The Squires reported the coyote incident to the police and provided video and audio recordings that captured David threatening the Squires. In response, David turned himself in (although he denied having anything to do with the dead coyote) and he was arrested for harassment.

When police officials lost the Squires’ video and audio recordings, the Crown decided not to proceed to trial and the charge against David was withdrawn. The Squires sold their home and moved on with their lives; meanwhile, David filed a civil suit against the Squires and his sister, Shelley, for “malicious prosecution and conspiracy”. Ironically, it was after David had started the new action and the Squires made a counter-claim that the Court finally heard the Squires’ case.

David’s original claims were dismissed and Judge Stinson of the Ontario Superior Court found that David was responsible for leaving the dead coyote on the Squires’ car and that he intentionally aspired to inflict mental distress on the Squires. The judge ordered David to pay the Squires over $166,000 in damages, a lifetime ban of contact with the Squires, additional costs to cover the Squires’ extensive legal fees, and additional funds to cover Shelley’s costs.

Curious about the Case? Check it out for yourself:

The 2015-16 NB Budget and seniors

Many senior clients have asked us questions about how the recent provincial budget will affect them. Before analyzing how the proposed changes may  affect seniors, it’s important to understand the current system in New Brunswick. The amount a senior pays per month for nursing home care is based on “net annual income”. When a senior applies for assistance for nursing home care, under the Contribution Regulation, NB Reg 2009-75 under the Nursing Homes Act,  the Minister of Social Development looks first at the person’s net annual income.

“Net Annual Income” is defined under the Regulation as “the annual income of an applicant or recipient and his or her spouse or common-law partner as calculated under section 7 less the deductions as calculated under section 8.” The calculation of net annual income includes income from several sources including pensions, old age security, war veteran’s allowance, EI payments, family assistance, long-term disability, income from property, and so on. The deductions under the Regulation include income taxes, health insurance premiums, comfort and clothing allowance, etc.

After calculation of income under a formula attached to the Regulation, an applicant to a nursing home pays what the Minister decides the person can afford and then the government subsidizes additional monthly expenses the person cannot afford. This is defined as “income testing.” This is contrasted with a “means test”, which would include a senior’s family home, assets and income into account.

In its 2015-2016 budget, the New Brunswick Government announced it would still exempt a senior’s family home from the assessment of ability to pay, but would no longer exempt liquid financial assets such as savings or investments. This is a change from the current status, where the definition of net income does not include savings or investments, unless the senior is drawing income from these sources.

The recent budget removes a $113 cap on the daily amount seniors pay for nursing home care and moves towards the true cost of daily care to $233 per day. Finally, the budget may increase payments for seniors covered under Medavie Blue Cross.

Exactly how changes to the contributions regulation will affect seniors depends on how the legislation defines “liquid assets” to be considered in the contribution formula. One thing is certain: a person’s contributions for nursing home care will likely increase if that person has savings and investments. Additional costs will likely lead people considering nursing home care to look for ways to shelter funds from the equation.