At trial, Richard Scampone presented witnesses who testified that the nursing home was chronically understaffed and only operated at state-mandated levels during state surveys. Such understaffing made it difficult for employees to complete their duties, witnesses testified, and required employees to fill out paperwork without having completed the corresponding jobs. Further, one witness testified, the nursing home was so understaffed that employees were not able to provide residents with water as necessary.
Another witness told the court that Grane established a budget for Highland but that any money remaining in Highland's bank account at the end of the month was sent to an account in Grane's name.
A jury subsequently found Highland to be vicariously and corporately liable for Madeline Scampone's death and awarded Richard Scampone $193,500.
Now, as the case heads back to the trial court to determine if, in fact, another trial is necessary under the high court's directive, attorneys for both sides are welcoming the decision.
Jenkintown attorney Alan S. Gold, of Gold and Ferrante, argued the case on behalf of Highland Park Care Center.
Gold said the decision provides guidance to trial courts concerning corporate negligence, noting that Highland Park's case was not closed after the Supreme Court decision.
"There was a multitude of tests that was confusing trial courts. They're all gone," Gold said.
Attorneys for the estate were likewise pleased with the decision; one of the plaintiff's lawyers said the decision eliminates a number of "bogus arguments" that were being presented to trial courts on nursing home liability.
"Thompson was too restrictive," said Stephen Trzcinski, of Wilkes & McHugh. "Thompson was designed to create additional protection for hospitals."
Trzcinski said trying to advance a corporate liability theory against a nursing home under the Thompson test was like "trying to put a square peg in a round hole." He said he preferred the Supreme Court's analysis to the Superior Court's, in that the Supreme Court did not lump nursing homes into the Thompson fraternity of health care providers.