Four elderly women suing Council on Aging for humiliation

Published: May. 6, 2014 at 10:09 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - They were banned from the Dumas House Senior Center and told they were no longer welcome to participate in activities or stop in for lunch. Four elderly Baton Rouge women are suing the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging, for humiliation and embarassment. Their attorney, Jill Craft, says it's a situation that should have never happened and it all started over a game on bingo.

For one year, the group of women would go to the center, on North Sherwood Forest Drive, on Thursday's for lunch and bingo.

However since May 2013, they've no longer been welcomed inside. According to a lawsuit, filed last week, three of the women have not been back since May 2, 2013.

"They were met at the door by an individual with the Council on Aging, Ms. Holden, who told them because they weren't coming three days a week that they could not longer participate in the elderly activities," Craft said. "And she kicked them out of the facility in front of all their friends. Made them leave and told them they were banned."

The policy of having to attend three activities a week, Craft says, was never an actual rule.

Workers at Dumas House say they have never banned anyone. They also say the woman who allegedly put them out, Evelyn Holden, sister of Mayor Kip Holden, no longer works for the Council of Aging.

Craft says days after that incident, one of the women decided to go back to the senior center. The lawsuit alleges she was told, by the same woman, that she was permanently banned.

"In the process, they took her walker from her...later brought it back and essentially do a walk of shame in front of her friends, again."

Before the ladies went to an attorney, they filed a complaint with the Governor's Office of Elderly Affairs. That resulted in the Council on Aging being told they needed sensitivity training.

In the year since the first incident, one of the women, Clara Kissinger, has died.

Craft says the three other ladies: Elaine Weigand, Wanda Waltrip and Jane Luecke, now socialize mostly by phone. They are hoping the suit brings about some changes, that can hopefully be settled out of court.

"I certainly would hope that everybody would be able to get around a table. Maybe play some bingo and have some lunch," Craft said.

9 News also reached out to the executive director of the EBRCOA.

"On the advice of our attorney, we have no comment," said Tasha Clark-Amar.

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