Helping the family of an abused personal care home resident.
William had had a rough start to life. As a child, he suffered a head injury that caused developmental delays and a seizure disorder that was controlled with medication. As an adult, he was unable to hold down regular employment, but earned money doing odd jobs for friends, family, and neighbors.
William lived in a licensed personal care home (PCH), which was intended for individuals who need a lower level of care than that provided by a traditional nursing home. The PCH was responsible for providing his meals, implementing dietary restrictions and administering his medications. The home was poorly run, and William exercised his rights and lodged complaints with the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW). The department conducted many inspections and cited the PCH for several violations. The home retaliated against William by serving him with a discharge notice, essentially evicting him from the residence. It claimed to be unable to meet his medical needs. William was uprooted from his home and separated from his friends and girlfriend.
Under Pennsylvania regulations, the personal care home was legally obligated to assist in finding a new placement for William that could meet his needs. In a further act of retaliation, the home found William a new PCH that was even less capable of meeting his medical needs. William was abused by an employee at the new home and was frequently deprived of his medications. After several months at the new home, William suffered a severe seizure and died while on the telephone with his girlfriend. An investigation revealed that his medication records had been falsified and that he was not given his anti-seizure medication, which was later confirmed by The Medical Examiner’s Office.
William’s sister, upset and angry over the untimely death of her 47-year-old brother, called Feldman Shepherd. She did not want other residents at those personal care homes to suffer a similar fate. Other attorneys had turned down the case because they did not see the value in pursuing litigation on behalf of an individual with no real work history and numerous pre-existing conditions. Upon meeting with William’s sister and hearing her story, we knew that this abuse and neglect could not go unpunished. After filing a lawsuit, taking numerous depositions, and confronting those individuals responsible for William’s death, it became clear that the personal care homes involved could not afford to let a jury decide their fate. While the case settled for a substantial amount of money, the value of allowing William’s voice to be heard by those responsible for his demise is immeasurable.
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