In Scampone v. Grane Healthcare Company and Highland Park Care Center, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania reversed and remanded the trial court decision regarding nursing home liability, holding that a nursing home, just like a hospital or health maintenance organization, could be subject to corporate liability for negligence, in addition to vicarious liability for its employees or representatives, and that understaffing could support a corporate negligence cause of action.

The Court made several holdings which should grab the attention of long term care and nursing home operators.

First, it found that the evidence “was sufficient to support a cause of action for corporate liability and that such liability can be imposed upon a nursing home.”

Second, the Court found that a nursing home was similar to a hospital in that regard, and distinguished the situation from holding professional corporations of physician and other individual providers liable, because of the much broader scope and care and responsibility of hospitals and nursing homes for residents.

Third, the Court found that there was sufficient evidence of misconduct to warrant submission of the issue of punitive damages to a jury.

Finally, the Court found that chronic understaffing could support a claim of corporate negligence. In this case, the Court found that “plaintiff’s evidence supported that the Federal and State Regulations were regularly ignored and that Highland avoided detection by Federal and State Agencies by manipulating staff levels during inspections. Since plaintiff’s evidence indicated that Highland violated the governmental regulations governing minimum staffing levels, because of action and questioning herein is unquestionably viable.”