91-year-old widow sues ElderHelp, claims caregiver wasn't vetted

Posted at 5:52 PM, Aug 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-31 20:52:44-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - 91-year-old Fran Breslauer says she was misled by a well-respected San Diego nonprofit that serves seniors. She claims it led to an unfit caregiver moving into her home and refusing to leave.


In a civil lawsuit filed this week, Breslauer contends she found Cheryl Sherrell on Craigslist, then asked ElderHelp of San Diego to do a full background check on the woman she hoped to hire to help take care of her dying husband.


Breslauer claims ElderHelp said Sherrell was a suitable choice, but shortly after she began living in her College-area home the relationship fell apart.  After Alan Breslauer's death both women filed restraining orders against each other.


Sherrell left the house for a short period, but after learning Breslauer had moved out of state to live with a daughter, Sherrell moved back in.


Team 10 reported on the controversy in October 2016.


Police eventually removed Sherrell from the home.  It was a hoarder's paradise, full of piles of clothing, broken appliances, glassware and junk.  Dogs had defecated on floors and furniture.


Breslauer's lawsuit says that scenario would have been avoided if ElderHelp had made good on its promise of doing comprehensive background checks and screening of potential caregivers for its elderly clients.


According to the lawsuit, "PLAINTIFF did not think twice about SHERRELL since nothing appeared off about her at first; and according to ELDERHELP, she was a perfect fit."  The complaint says ElderHelp didn't so much as do a Google search.  If the agency had, it would have seen news articles about Sherrell's compulsive hoarding, the lawsuit states.


The lawsuit claims Breslauer's reliance on ElderHelp caused her "serious harm" and "severe emotional distress". It states Breslauer's financial losses reached at least $200,000.


Team 10 reached out to the CEO and Executive Director of ElderHelp.  Deborah Martin sent this statement:

“ElderHelp has not yet seen or been served the lawsuit.  We have no information supporting any claims for damages against ElderHelp by Ms. Breslauer.  ElderHelp is a nonprofit agency dedicated to improving the lives of seniors in San Diego, and we strive each day to fulfill our mission.”


Breslauer's attorney, Christopher Ridgeway acknowledged ElderHelp has a good reputation in the community and does a lot of good things for the elderly. but said in this case they should have done better.


"Everyone's a victim in this story," Ridgeway added.