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Class Action Lawsuit to Proceed Against The Glen Mills Schools on Behalf of Children Alleging Abuse

DATE: December 19, 2019

December 19, 2019. PHILADELPHIA – Berger Montague PC, Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing, Feinberg & Lin, LLC, and Sauder Schelkopf LLC are pleased to announce that the class action lawsuit filed by their clients against The Glen Mills Schools will proceed after the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania issued a twenty-three page opinion largely denying the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case.

The lawsuit, filed in March 2019, is brought on behalf of students of The Glen Mills Schools who allege they were physically and mentally abused while residing under the school’s care. The case asserts legal claims against The Glen Mills Schools and its employees who physically and mentally abused or otherwise mistreated children and young adults who were committed to the school by juvenile courts or placed there for treatment and educational purposes. The class action seeks compensatory and other damages for the plaintiffs and class members who allege they suffered physical, emotional, and other injuries as a result of the severe abuse.

The class action alleges that school leaders, as a matter of policy, practice, and custom, encouraged and turned a blind eye to student abuse, and attempted to insulate themselves from the claims. The plaintiffs allege the school’s leadership fostered a culture of abuse, engaged in negligent supervision, and failed to properly vet or train the school’s employees and contractors, many of whom lacked the background and training needed to properly manage the students in their care. Consequently, the lawsuit alleges that children in the school’s care were routinely abused and that the school acted with reckless disregard and deliberate indifference to the widespread violations of the students’ rights, despite being aware for decades of the systemic abuse. The lawsuit alleges claims for negligence, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligent supervision, as well as claims under the United States Constitution.

The lawsuit was filed in the wake of an investigation by The Philadelphia Inquirer that revealed decades of child abuse at The Glen Mills Schools. The Inquirer’s report described a culture of violence and secrecy at the school. Former students and staff members who were interviewed said counselors routinely choked and punched the boys in their care, even breaking their bones. It was further reported that when students and their families tried to report the attacks, staff members attempted to silence them by claiming the boys would be sent to even worse programs where they would have to restart their sentences. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege claims individually and on behalf of hundreds and possibly thousands of boys who have attended The Glen Mills Schools and allege that they were subjected to widespread abuse.

In allowing the class action to proceed, Judge Harvey Bartle III of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania noted: “A class seeking monetary relief under Rule 23(b)(3) [of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure] is not precluded simply because individual class members suffered different injuries in a situation where liability flows from an official policy or widespread practice or custom of the defendant…. Plaintiffs have alleged that the class members’ injuries arise from common policies or practices promulgated by defendants’ management, including the school’s failure to train, supervise, and discipline its staff, its indifference to abuse and violence, and its efforts to cover up or otherwise impede investigation of abuse. Such allegations are sufficient at this stage of the action to move forward.”

The attorneys representing the plaintiffs, Shanon Carson of Berger Montague PC, David Rudovsky of Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing, Feinberg & Lin, LLP, and Joe Sauder of Sauder Schelkopf LLC, issued the following joint statement: “We respect the Court’s decision and we look forward to litigating this important case on behalf of the hundreds of former students of The Glen Mills Schools who have contacted us regarding allegations of serious abuse while attending the school. The next phase of the case will focus on obtaining, through the discovery process, all the school’s records that pertain to the alleged abuse. We encourage any current or former students of The Glen Mills Schools who experienced abuse, or any other person who has relevant information, to contact attorney Shanon Carson at 215-875-4656 or by email at scarson@bm.net. Those interested in information about the case can visit www.glenmillsschoolabuse.com.”

Berger Montague PC is a national plaintiffs’ class action and complex litigation law firm headquartered in Philadelphia with offices in Minneapolis, San Diego, and Washington, D.C. Berger Montague litigates complex civil cases and class actions in federal and state courts throughout the United States. In its 50 years of operation, the Firm has pioneered the use of class actions in America and recovered well over $30 billion for its clients and the class members it has represented.

Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing, Feinberg & Lin, LLP is a civil rights law firm in Philadelphia that has litigated scores of cases involving abuses of prisoners and other persons committed to institutions in Pennsylvania and across the country. David Rudovsky can be contacted at drudovsky@krlawphila.com.

Sauder Schelkopf LLC is a nationally recognized class action and personal injury law firm whose attorneys have recovered over $500 million on behalf of clients and class members. The firm’s partners have been selected by the National Trial Lawyers Association as one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Pennsylvania since 2012. As former state prosecutors, the attorneys at Sauder Schelkopf have significant experience investigating and aggressively prosecuting hundreds of abuse cases against individuals who victimized innocent people.

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