ALBERT LEA, Minn. — Another civil lawsuit has been filed in U.S. District Court of South Dakota against the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society in the Albert Lea elder abuse case.
The case was filed on Sept. 29 in Sioux Falls, S.D. — the headquarters for the nursing home chain — by the family of Sylvia Wulff, a deceased victim of the alleged abuse at the Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea. She is the sixth deceased victim whose case has migrated to South Dakota.
Wulff had previously been a part of the civil case in Freeborn County against the nursing home and the alleged perpetrators; however, when victims in Minnesota die, liability goes away. The claims are still open for litigation by family members in South Dakota against the nursing home only.
The lawsuit seeks damages from the 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.
It argues “the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society’s systemic failure to exercise proper supervision and control over the conduct of its teenage employees resulted in the six-month pattern of abuse of the vulnerable adults at Good Samaritan Society.”
Regardless of this allegation, 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.
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The certified nursing assistants allegedly involved 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.
Two of the four teenage girls mentioned in the civil lawsuit face criminal charges on the matter. Brianna Broitzman, 21, and Ashton Larson, 20, have been charged with fifth-degree assault, criminal abuse of a vulnerable adult, criminal abuse of a vulnerable adult involving sexual conduct and failure to report abuse.
Broitzman pleaded guilty to three counts of disorderly conduct in August and is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 22.
Larson is slated for trial in November in Rice County. She is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing at 11 a.m. Thursday.
The remaining two teenagers were handled in juvenile court, along with two other girls because they were not adults at the time of the alleged abuse.
Civil lawsuits have previously been filed in South Dakota on the behalf of Beverly Butts, Juline Jacobs, Mavis Knutson, Grace Reshetar and Opal Sande.