Pennsylvania nursing home assault case leads to $7.5 verdict against facility

Location: Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Plaintiff: Estate of Dorothy L. Brace
Defendant: Garden Spot Village, Maple Farm Nursing Center and Glenn A. Hershey
Amount: $7.5 million verdict for compensatory damages. Before the punitive damages phase of the trial could begin, the parties settled the matter for $6,750,000.
Alleged Injuries: Negligence,assault, battery, breach of fiduciary duty, and premises liability in a case where a woman was sexually assaulted in an Akron, Pennsylvania, nursing home.

Description: Dorothy L. Brace was a resident of Maple Farm Nursing Center, which is owned by Defendant Garden Spot Village and located at 604 Oak Street in Akron, Pa.  She suffered from dementia and by 2010, her mental condition deteriorated to the point she was deemed unable to consent to romantic or sexual relationships. She relied on the nursing home staff for her daily care and protection.

Defendant Glenn A. Hershey was already a resident at the nursing home when Garden Spot Village purchased Maple Farm in 2009.  However, Maple Farm was aware that he was a Megan’s Law offender based on an offense he committed in 1994 that required him to register as a sex offender for life. The nursing home Defendants failed to take efforts to ensure the staff, the residents, or the residents’ responsible parties were aware of Glenn Hershey’s history, and defended this position saying no law in Pennsylvania required them to do so.

At trial, Maple Farms and Garden Spot claimed that Defendant Hershey’s January 20, 2013, assault on Dorothy was unforeseeable. However, the department heads at Maple Farm had identified Defendant Hershey as a risk to Dorothy because of her dementia almost three years prior. In February of 2010, with the help of the Lancaster County Office of Aging (OOA), the Defendants initiated a care plan to protect Ms. Brace from sexual abuse. The plan required that Glenn Hershey should have limited contact with her and not be permitted to be alone with her.

One night a nurse aide saw Glenn Hershey leaving Dorothy’s room in the middle of the night. The Nursing Home Defendants delayed more than eight hours in calling the police while they conducted their own internal investigation.  Before the police arrived, the Nursing Home Defendants also covered up evidence.  Fortunately, Glenn Hershey confessed to the police.  In 2014, he was convicted of Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse and is serving eight to 20 years in prison for his crime.

In the trial against the nursing home, the jury found the facility was reckless and failed to protect Ms. Brace. The $7.5 million award was for Dorothy Brace’s pain and suffering.  Significantly, the jury only allocated 15 percent of the fault to Defendant Hershey, and held the nursing home and its parent company accountable for 85 percent of the fault.  Before the punitive damages phase of the trial could begin, the parties settled the matter for $6,750,000.

For more details, read the original press release here.

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