The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on November 21, 2012 significantly expanded the scope of liability of nursing homes and other health care entities. Scampone v. Highland Park Care Cente, 2012 WL 5894904 (Pa. 2012), arose out of the death of a 94-year-old nursing home resident due to dehydration, malnutrition and neglect. Plaintiff alleged that the nursing home and its management company provided inadequate staffing and training. The jury awarded $193,500, and the appellate court affirmed, holding that the nursing home was sufficiently similar to a hospital to be subject to liability for hospital corporate negligence under Pennsylvania precedent.

The state Supreme Court affirmed on a somewhat broader ground. The proper inquiry was whether defendants had undertaken a duty to provide services to decedent and whether they did so negligently. The Court also rejected any special tort immunity “for the nursing home industry based upon appellants’ predictions of financial doom.” The court remanded to the trial court for a finding on these issues and a new trial.

AAJ filed a brief as amicus curiae, authored by CCL counsel Jeffrey White.