Kemal Amen “Casey” Kasem was born April 27, 1932. He died on June 15, 2014. He spent his life as a radio disc jockey, most famously noted for his syndicated music radio countdown program, “America’s Top 40” and his voice-over work of “Shaggy” in the children’s cartoon series “Scooby Do.” Casey married his first wife in 1972. They had three children together before their divorce in 1979. In 1980, he married his second wife, Jean, and they remained married until his death.
In 2007, Casey was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and a few months later with Lewy body dementia, causing dementia and an inability to speak in his last years of life. As Casey’s health worsened, his wife prevented him from having any contact with his children from his first marriage. One child sought conservatorship from the courts, but the request was denied and control of his care remained with his wife Jean. During the last months of his life, Jean removed Casey from his nursing home in Santa Monica, California to one in Washington State, and a series of legal battles ensued to ensure the adequacy of his care and visitation by his children. After he died, Jean had his body removed from Washington to Montreal, Canada and from there to Oslo, Norway where he was ultimately buried.
The actions in this case inspired the California State Legislature to enact state law 1085. This law will give judges the authority to direct or grant a conservator the power to enforce an adult’s right to receive visitors, telephone calls, and personal mail. Prior to this change in the law, spouses were provided all rights related to the care of a loved one. (A conservator is person who acts on the behalf of an ailing adult.) The new law will also require caretakers to inform individuals of the ailing adult’s death.
According to one of the bill’s authors, California Assemblyman Mike Gatto, “Conflict among family members is the last thing our loved ones want to see as they approach their final hours. I hope this [law] will help decrease the heartache and stress of families already facing difficult circumstances.”