First-Impression Ruling on Elder Abuse Reporters' Testimony Stands
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld a Lancaster County trial judge's decision allowing Wilkes & McHugh to depose, under seal, an employee of a nursing home in a nursing home abuse case against the facility. The employee had reported to the Lancaster County Office of Aging the abuse of one of the home's residents. Attorneys for the nursing home tried to prevent the employee from being deposed, arguing that the woman's testimony was privileged under the Older Adults Protective Services Act. However, the judges wrote in an April 12 order that the act protects people who become witnesses in a judicial proceeding from criminal or civil liability based on their testimony, but does not preclude their testimony.
The case, McLaughlin v. Garden Spot Village, involved a woman who was sexually assaulted by another resident at the home. The woman died 10 months later, and her attacker pleaded guilty to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and was sentenced to eight to 20 years in prison. Philadelphia attorney Matthew Stone is representing the woman's family in the case against Garden Spot Village.
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