By: Amina A. Young, Attorney
On Friday, April 10, 2020, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) Commissioner Kristina Box confirmed that twenty-four residents at Bethany Pointe Health Campus in Anderson, Indiana had passed away. Sixteen of the residents who died had tested positive for COVID-19. The other eight showed similar symptoms. Bethany Pointe, owned by Trilogy Health Services, LLC, is one of many nursing homes across the country facing coronavirus outbreaks.
Health care experts and officials have long stated that the elderly are likely one of the most vulnerable populations to the coronavirus due to compromised immune systems and/or underlying conditions.
On March 21, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidance for nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to take steps to assess and improve their preparedness for responding to COVID-19. The CDC noted nursing homes are among the highest at risk of being affected by COVID-19 because of their “congregate nature and the residents served (e.g., older adults often with underlying chronic medical conditions).” In its guidance, the CDC recommended rapid implementation of active screening of residents and health care personnel for fever and respiratory symptoms, restricting all visitation except for certain compassionate care situations, such as end of life situations, and implementing sick leave policies and other occupational health considerations.
The CDC also released a Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Preparedness Checklist for Nursing Homes and other Long-Term Care Settings, which identifies key areas that long-term care facilities should consider in their COVID-19 planning. The CDC’s checklist includes a comprehensive communication plan for facilities to ensure that they are communicating with staff, residents, and their families regarding the status and impact of COVID-19 in the facility.
On its website, Trilogy Health Services declares, in responding to the COVID-19 virus, it is “following guidance from the CDC, CMS, and state officials” and is “taking extra precautions over the coming weeks and months to ensure that [its] campuses remain guarded against the spread of viral infections.”
However, a chief complaint of Bethany Pointe residents’ families is that they aren’t being kept informed on the status of the facility’s overall impact from COVID-19, or with regard to their loved one in particular. Many families of Bethany Pointe residents state they were not even so much as notified when the first known cases were confirmed in the nursing home, and before they knew it or had a chance to respond to the situation, their loved one was showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Residents in nursing homes are members of our community and should be given the same respect and access to resources that the rest of the community has access to during a crisis. Families of nursing home residents should be kept timely informed on the overall status of the facility’s impact to COVID-19, and on their loved one’s health.
If your loved one is residing in a nursing home or long-term care facility, and you are concerned about the facility’s handling of its response to COVID-19, one action you can take is to file a complaint or report an incident to the ISDH. Complaint forms can be found on the Indiana State Department of Health’s website.
COVID-19 presents unchartered territory. This article is not legal advice. To discuss the specific facts of your situation, contact us.
A class action lawsuit has been filed against Glen Mills Schools in Pennsylvania after an investigation uncovered numerous of claims of abuse at the reformatory school for boys. Allegations made by students at the school include counselors and staff inflicting physical violence on the boys like punching, kicking, slamming them into walls or lockers, slapping, and choking them. In one instance, a boy stated he was grabbed by the shirt and slammed onto a pool table for not acknowledging a staff member when the boy walked into the room. The investigation uncovered years of physical abuse at the school. Victims were often silenced with threats of more violence or relocation to a worse school. Many did not report abuse and went to lengths to ensure family members who saw injuries like cuts, bruises, and sprains did not take action.
The lawsuit alleges that in addition to the injuries from physical abuse and trauma from emotional abuse, students enrolled at Glen Mills were also deprived of their right to an education. It claims that in several instances students were provided self-directed online resources and did not receive instruction or support from teachers. Some were only provided a GED prep book rather than receive secondary education instruction.
State of Pennsylvania closes Glen Mills Schools amid reports of abuse
In April 2019, the State Department of Human Services in Pennsylvania revoked Glen Mills’ license after further investigation into child abuse and cover-ups at the Delaware County facility.
If you or someone you know has a child who attended Glen Mills Schools in Pennsylvania, contact us. Our personal injury attorneys have handled numerous child abuse claims including claims of physical violence and sexual assault and can provide you with a confidential case evaluation at no cost.
For survivors of childhood sexual abuse, it may take decades to begin processing what has happened to them. The unique struggles and obstacles faced by survivors of childhood sexual abuse can have a negative effect on their ability to pursue a civil lawsuit. This is because the survivor may not recall what occurred or connect their abuse to the harms they have suffered until much later. By the time the survivor makes that connection, the time frame for them to file a civil lawsuit may have lapsed. The legal term for the deadline to file a lawsuit is the “statute of limitation.” Statutes of limitation are laws passed by state legislatures that place time limits on how long a person has to file a lawsuit in court.
Concerns about whether a statute of limitation has expired frequently come into play in childhood sexual abuse cases. As an example, many survivors of childhood sexual abuse by a volunteer of the Boy Scouts of America organization have come forward. The Boy Scouts organization currently faces hundreds of accusers in multiple lawsuits across the country. The survivors filing lawsuits are from all walks of life and the age range for these survivors varies greatly. Older survivors will have to show that their case fits within their state’s statute of limitations in order to be successful in pursuing their claim.
Some states are changing the statute of limitations to offer more access to justice for sexual abuse survivors
States across the nation are beginning to recognize this obstacle to justice and are taking a closer look at, and changing, their statutes of limitations for childhood sexual abuse cases. Delaware and New York have repealed requirements altogether, meaning that survivors of any age can seek damages in a civil lawsuit. Other states are considering legislation that would either eliminate limitations or expand them to allow more survivors to come forward. This process is referred to as statute of limitations reform.
Under current Indiana law, survivors of childhood sexual abuse have a limited amount of time to file a civil case against their abuser. The Indiana General Assembly is currently studying how statutes of limitations for civil lawsuits uniquely affect survivors of childhood sexual abuse. If the proposed changes to the statute of limitations law are adopted it would open a window of time to allow Indiana survivors of sexual abuse, whose statutes are currently expired, the opportunity to file a claim. Expanding the statute of limitations would allow more survivors to receive compensation for costs associated with treatment and rebuilding their lives. It would also hold perpetrators and organizations who enabled the abuse accountable for their actions and protect future victims.
States expanding or abandoning limitations on civil lawsuits have led the Boy Scouts of America to consider filing bankruptcy due to the large number of pending and potential claims against them. While the Boy Scouts have not officially filed for bankruptcy, they are exploring that option. Other organizations whose policies and actions allowed sexual abuse to occur, like USA Gymnastics, have used bankruptcy as a strategy to limit their losses and protect their assets.
Talk to an attorney for free to find out if you have a case
Statutes of limitations are always a concern in these types of cases, and the looming possibility of bankruptcy proceedings makes it even more necessary to talk with an attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and interests. If you or a loved one is the victim of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a Boy Scout troop leader or volunteer, our sexual abuse attorneys will stand with you throughout the civil litigation process. Please contact us for a free and private consultation on your case today.
Sexual abuse allegations from former scouts across the country are piling up against the Boy Scouts of America. The Boy Scouts organization, which provides programming for millions of children across the country, is embroiled in multiple lawsuits regarding their policies on background checks. The civil lawsuits allege the policies allowed more than 7,000 perpetrators of sexual abuse to volunteer. By volunteering, perpetrators had unfettered access to kids as young as five years old. The allegations span many decades and, if founded, are evidence of pervasive and nationwide abuse.
In October 2012, an Oregon court ordered the Boy Scouts to release internal files that were kept to track suspected and convicted child molesters that volunteered for the organization. These files, referred to by the organization as “the red files” or the “ineligible volunteer list,” were nearly 20,000 pages meant for use by the organization to prevent pedophiles from volunteering.
But that list was rarely checked in the hiring process, according to the allegations in recent complaints. The fallout from the release of the red files has been tremendous—current estimates of the number of victims surpass 12,000 boy scouts who were molested and/or sexually abused by troop leaders or other volunteers from 1944 to 2016.
The release of the red files exposed men from every walk of life and every corner of the country, including Indiana. Indiana cases demonstrate the complacency of the Boy Scouts of America in using the red files for their intended purpose—preventing dangerous people from using the organization to gain access to harm children. Thomas Hacker was a troop leader and volunteer for the Boy Scouts in Indiana in the 1970’s before he was convicted of felony child sexual abuse in 1973. Following his conviction, Hacker moved to the Chicago suburbs where he was allowed to re-join as a volunteer with the Boy Scouts, resulting in his molestation and abuse of more children. Fifteen of those Chicago scouts filed suit against the Boy Scouts in 2018.
Yet another Indiana case involved an unnamed troop leader who was added to the red files in 1972 after admitting to molesting young scouts. But officials at the Boy Scouts organization wrote next to his name that he had been “cured” through psychiatric treatments and meetings with his minister, and was subsequently allowed to register as a troop leader once again. Ten years later, the same troop leader was allowed to host a sleepover, after which two boys accused him of molesting them. The troop leader eventually admitted to molesting the boys and resigned from scouting, but there is no indication on whether local law enforcement was ever notified.
If you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and exploitation at the hands of Boy Scout leaders and volunteers, you are not alone. Our attorneys have decades of experience fighting for survivors of sexual abuse in the civil justice system. Our sexual abuse attorneys have received professional training to deal with the unique circumstances that survivors of sexual abuse and trauma face. If you or a loved one has been sexually abused, please contact us for a free and confidential case evaluation.
On Thursday July 26, 2018, a Los Angeles jury awarded $45 million to a girl who endured sexual abuse at the hands of her mother and four men at a home where she was placed by the county despite evidence she was being molested. The girl, now 15, said in a lawsuit against Los Angeles County that social workers had reasonable suspicions she was being abused, but they failed to inform authorities. The girl’s mother and the men were previously convicted of abusing the girl starting in 2010.
Unfortunately, cases like this are not isolated events. However, victims of sexual abuse do have ways to hold a perpetrator accountable. Similar to the brave young woman in the Los Angeles case, a victim of sexual abuse can initiate a civil lawsuit. While a criminal case is designed to hold a defendant accountable to the State, a civil lawsuit is designed to hold the defendant accountable to the victim. In a civil case, the victim initiates and controls the case and brings the action regardless if the perpetrator has been found guilty in a criminal prosecution.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has identified the week of October 23 – October 29 to be National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week in an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of lead poisoning. Materials are available to educators and the public to help spread the word about the hazardous effects that lead exposure can have in children of all ages — particularly children under six years of age. [The EPA has since removed these resources from their official website.]
By: David J. Cutshaw, Attorney
The Indiana Court of Appeals recently issued a decision in the case of Sprunger v. Egli, 44 N.E. 3d 690 (Ind. App. 2105), a medical malpractice case where the plaintiff alleged that her 13-month old daughter died of child abuse that should have been reported by the child’s pediatrician. The plaintiff in the case alleged that Dr. Egli had a duty to report suspected abuse as required by an Indiana statute, I.C. 31-33-5-1, but his failure to do so was the cause of the child’s death from abuse.
By: Alexander C. Trueblood, Attorney
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and to celebrate, the National Highway Transit Safety Administration has been shaming distracted drivers on Twitter. With all the social media savvy one would expect of a federal government agency, the NHTSA is fighting distracted driving one tweet at a time – by replying to tweets from users who admit to texting (or tweeting/snapping/Facebooking/etc.) and driving with responses ranging from friendly corrections to snarky comebacks featuring a surprising knowledge of late-1990s video games. Setting aside the fact that our tax dollars are now hard at work crafting snappy comebacks to anonymous twitter users like @drunkcollegekid, there’s actually a valuable lesson to learn from the NHTSA’s distraction-shaming campaign.
By: Daniel S. Chamberlain, Attorney
On April 18, 2016, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the largest class action settlement in United States history. The class action involved allegations that professional football players were knowingly put at risk of repetitive brain trauma, including dementia, Parkinson’s and other degenerative brain conditions by their employer, the National Football League (NFL). Retired NFL players alleged that the NFL suppressed information about the link between brain injury and football. The NFL settled the case without admission of fault.
By: Gregory L. Laker, Attorney
Tragically, we have seen an alarming increase in the sexual abuse of Indiana children recently. We shook our head in amazement when we read about the depraved sexual escapades of Jared Fogle, the formerly likeable Subway pitchman recently sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges. More recently, an investigation into allegations of child pornography and child exploitation led to the abrupt resignation of Park Tudor basketball coach, Kyle Cox. It seems like every week we are reading about new allegations that involve one of our children’s teachers, coaches or mentors.