Report features extensive commentary from Lieff Cabraser partner Annika K. Martin, who represents the plaintiffs in the proposed minor abuse class action against Devereux Behavioral Health
As reported by Law.com (subscription), lawsuits against the Devereux Foundation (a/k/a Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health) are growing in number over allegations that the nonprofit, specializing in treating children with intellectual disabilities, mental disorders, and trauma, was negligent and failed to protect residents from being physically and sexually abused by staffers at its facilities in multiple locations across the U.S. Dozens of lawsuits against Devereux have been filed in both state and federal courts nationwide.
In Philadelphia alone, where Devereux is headquartered, over 50 cases were consolidated just last week for discovery purposes, and in April 2022 a proposed class action filed by Lieff Cabraser and Philadelphia firm Sauder Schelkopf in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania defeated a motion to dismiss filed by the defendants.
Lieff Cabraser partner Annika K. Martin, who represents the plaintiffs in the proposed class action, noted that “past and current residents of Devereux facilities have been filing individual suits against the organization seeking damages…[and] some cases have already resolved in settlements.” In one recent win in Georgia, a $50 million punitive damages verdict was obtained.
According to Martin, the Lieff Cabraser/Sauder Schelkopf action is the only class action so far on file against Devereux. “While most suits against the organization seek damages for specific instances of past abuse,” she said, “the class action is more targeted toward systemic issues and aims to create future, institutional changes to how the organization operates.”
The proposed class would include all residents who attended Devereux’s facilities, including those who may not have experienced any abuse, under the argument that these most-vulnerable children do not need to experience sexual violence first-hand to suffer serious, real, and ongoing harm.
“Deveruex has put all of these individuals at a heightened risk of physical, sexual and emotional abuse because of the … inadequate policy enforcement that Devereux has from the top,” explained Martin.
“The exact number of residents is something that must be determined through discovery,” she added, though the complaint details that Deveruex is responsible for nearly 25,000 individuals across 21 facilities in 13 states.
Martin called the article “a real watershed moment,” adding that “stories on sexual assault prompt survivors to come forward and seek legal recourse for the abuse they suffered.”
Martin further observed that, “Individuals who say they were victims of abuse at Devereux continue to come forward, and past and current residents will likely continue to do so for years to come.”
She concluded, “You can’t put a timeline on how people process that information and are ready or not ready to come forward and hold Devereux accountable.”
Learn more about the Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Staff Sexual Abuses Class Action Lawsuit.
Contact a Sexual Abuse Lawyer at Lieff Cabraser
Lieff Cabraser represents survivors across the U.S. who have been victimized by sexual violence and sexual abuse. We treat every client with care, respect, and compassion as we bring our comprehensive legal skills forward on each case. We have a dedicated team of lawyers, nurse consultants, and paralegals experienced in working with and listening to survivors who work individually with every client in every case to see that justice is won.
You can call Lieff Cabraser partners Annika K. Martin or Mark Chalos toll-free today at 1 800 541-7358 or use the form below to send us a private email message. There is no charge or obligation for our review of your case, and all information provided will be held in the strictest confidence.
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