Lawsuit filed in South Dakota against Good Samaritan Society

Published 7:49 pm Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Argus-Leader newspaper of Sioux Falls, S.D., is reporting that another lawsuit has been filed in the Albert Lea elder abuse case against the Good Samaritan Society.

This civil case has been filed in Sioux Falls, which is the headquarters for the nursing home chain. The story appeared on the Argus-Leader website on Tuesday.

It said the lawsuit seeks damages from Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, saying its supervisors in Albert Lea were negligent in failing to provide proper supervision of four teenage certified nursing assistants who allegedly abused patients emotionally, sexually and physically in the first half of 2008.

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The case is similar to one filed in Freeborn County in January. However, reported victims in the case have died, and when victims in Minnesota die, liability goes away. But in South Dakota, family members can pursue claims. Lawyer Jim Carey, of the Sieben, Grose, Von Holtum & Carey law firm in Minneapolis, alleged systemic failure at a news conference in January in Minneapolis. He said the situation was not just the case of one employee who on one or two occasions engaged in this type of behavior. Instead, he alleged, these nurses aides were going into rooms and locking the doors, adding there was screaming from the residents, laughing from the aides and video recording as well.

The main questions the victims’ families want answered are the following: How could the alleged abuse gone on four, five or even six months? And why was no one at the facility monitoring these aides?

Regarding criminal charges, two of the four teenage girls mentioned in the civil lawsuit were handled in juvenile court, along with two other girls, but the remaining two are Brianna Broitzman and Ashton Larson, who were adults at the time of the alleged acts and now are 20. They face adult charges in Freeborn County District Court. Their trials are set to begin next month, though defense lawyers wish to change venues.

The Argus-Leader reports this is the fourth civil lawsuit filed in South Dakota connected with the case. It said it is on behalf of Beverly Butts.

“A similar lawsuit was filed in April on behalf of the families of Juline Jacobs, Mavis Knutson, Grace Reshetar and Opal Sande, all of whom have passed away since the abuse occurred,” it reported. “Each lawsuit states that the company failed to properly screen its employees and didn’t monitor them well enough to prevent abuse and neglect.”

The Good Samaritan Society has repeatedly claimed it wasn’t aware of the mistreatment and has pointed to the Minnesota Department of Health investigation that says the company responded swiftly when it learned of the allegations. The certified nursing assistants no longer work at the facility, and the Department of Health did not cite the Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea, largely because of its quick reporting.

Related story

Lawsuit alleges ‘systemic failure to exercise proper supervision’

About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

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