McKnight’s reported that a Pennsylvania jury has compensated the family of a dementia patient who was sexually assaulted by a fellow resident of her nursing home with a $7.5 million verdict.  After a two-week trial, a jury found Maple Farm Nursing Center and its parent company were 85% liable for the 2013 sexual assault.

The jury also found that the facility, owned by Garden Spot Village, had shown reckless indifference in failing to prevent the assault by a resident with a known history of sexual violence, according to The Legal Intelligencer. A plaintiff’s memo contended that accused resident, Glenn Hershey, targeted the 82-year-old victim, because of her dementia. Maple Farm knew Hershey was a registered sex offender who had previously been convicted of rape, and in its own filing said it had screened Hershey before admitting him.  Hershey had threatened to rape a caregiver and cited concerns the facility’s staff raised about “sexually aggressive behavior” toward the eventual victim prior to the assault.

Defendants attempted to prevent a nursing home employee from testifying based on the Older Adults Protective Services Act, However, the Act does not prevent individuals who report elder abuse from testifying in subsequent civil litigation. A three-judge panel rejected the nursing home’s argument that its employee’s testimony was privileged under the act.  The plaintiffs were allowed to depose the employee who reported the abuse to the Lancaster County Office of Aging.  Employees knew the two were in a relationship, although staff did not believe the victimized resident could consent because of her condition.

Instead of appealing the jury’s May 3 decision, Garden Spot Village agreed the next day to settle the case for $6.5 million “in conjunction with its insurer.”


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