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Woman at center of Macomb County guardianship case passes away

Posted at 4:03 PM, Nov 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-04 16:12:00-05

UTICA, Mich. (WXYZ) — The family of Barbara Delbridge report the 71-year-old passed away Sunday. Delbridge, and her husband Robert Mitchell, were placed under guardianship last November with the company Caring Hearts Michigan Inc., against the wishes of family members who had priority under the law.

In May, family members said they were prevented from seeing Barb and Bob after Caring Hearts installed a six-foot tall privacy fence around their Utica home. The 7 Investigators exposed how Caring Hearts Michigan hired a company called Executive Care and brought in multiple caregivers to stay in Barb and Bob’s home 24 hours a day. Both companies were owned by Catherine Kirk, who as guardian and conservator, billed Barb and Bob’s estate that’s worth about $2.7 million for all that care.

The Michigan Attorney General's Office opened an investigation into Macomb County Probate Judge Kathryn George following our investigation of this case.

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bridget McCormack and Macomb County Circuit and Probate courts Chief Judge James Biernat Jr. said, " “Vulnerable Michigan residents and their families must have confidence that probate courts are following the law and taking appropriate steps to protect their rights.”

In June, Judge Biernat awarded guardianship of Bob Mitchell to Bob’s daughter Marcie Mitchell, and guardianship of Barb was awarded to Anita Little, Barb’s sister.

Barb’s niece, Gretchen Sommer, said it’s believed Barb suffered a stroke. Sommer says the family is extremely grateful that Barb was able to be surrounded by friends and family for the final months of her life.