Trzcinski added that the decision leaves open the possibility for appellate courts to assess the theory of ordinary negligence in the context of nursing homes and even hospitals and ripens the issue for review.
The Scampone court declined to express a view on that issue, but tangentially mentioned it several times, which Trzcinski said was an acknowledgment that ordinary negligence is one of many avenues for direct liability. Likewise, he said, for instances of extreme abuse.
"I think that is going to be a developing issue," he said, based on the attention the court gave it, albeit without a ruling, in the opinion and during argument.
"The typical nursing home case is one of ordinary negligence, with instances of professional negligence involved," he said. "The typical hospital case is one of professional negligence with instances of ordinary negligence."
Pittsburgh attorney Peter D. Giglione, also of Wilkes & McHugh, handled the trial.
"I think what's important about the decision is the court is saying if a company causes harm, they're directly liable if a duty exists," Giglione said. "The overriding principle is accountability."
(Copies of the 44-page opinion in Scampone v. Highland Park Care Center, PICS No. 12-2251, are available from Pennsylvania Law Weekly. Please call the Pennsylvania Instant Case Service at 800-276-PICS to order or for information.)