Holly Herman Apr 10, 2019 Updated Nov 22, 2019
A Philadelphia jury awarded $2.9 million to the father of a 16-year-old girl who committed suicide in 2015 while she resided at the Bethany Children’s Home in western Berks County, according to court documents.
The girl, Carley Long, was struck by a Norfolk Southern freight train in May 2015 in Heidelberg Township, about a mile from the Bethany campus. The Berks County coroner’s office ruled the death a suicide.
A wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of Carley’s father, Calvin Long of York, accused Bethany Children’s Home of negligence for not properly supervising Carley, resulting in her leaving the campus.
The jury’s verdict on Monday followed a 12-day trial before Philadelphia Judge Sean F. Kennedy. The judge previously dismissed Norfolk Southern as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Michael J. Pisanchyn Jr., a Scranton attorney representing the girl’s father, said Tuesday that Bethany employees were negligent for allowing Carley to leave the grounds without being supervised as required under the law.
Bethany Children’s Home provides supportive care and short-term, independent and transitional living programs for about 300 children a year.
Pisanchyn wrote in the lawsuit that Bethany did not have proper equipment or security to prevent Carley’s death.
“We hope this sent a message to Bethany because we cannot believe they still have the same staff employed there, and they still do business the same way, which we find appalling,” Pisanchyn said after the verdict.
“Although Carley died, we hope that her name lives on, and she did not die in vain.”
Francis Deasey, a Philadelphia lawyer representing Bethany Children’s Home, said he will ask the judge to overturn the verdict.
“The people who work at Bethany are hardworking people who put themselves in harm’s way every day,” Deasey said.
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