The owners of a chain of residential care facilities have settled a negligence lawsuit stemming from the care of a disabled woman for over $1 million, according to a recent court filing.

Goodwill Industries of Northeastern Pennsylvania, based in Scranton, and Senior Care Centers of America Inc., based in Trevose, have agreed to pay $1.2 million as a result of the care Drums resident Sandra Dunkle, 61, received at their facility in Wright Twp.

Attorney Michael Pisanchyn of the Pisanchyn Law Firm said evidence in the case showed Dunkle was being “dragged” into and out of a van rather than being safely transferred.

“After Sandra came out of the home she was only in for less than 90 days she was non-ambulatory, was no longer able to dress herself, and was wheelchair bound,” Pisanchyn said in a statement. “Being wheelchair bound, Ms. Dunkle requires in addition to care givers, various home modifications to assist her to get a shower, means of egress for a wheelchair, or even a wheelchair van to get her to her appointments. Thankfully, with this resolution all of these needs will now be able to be met.”

According to the complaint, Dunkle, who is nonverbal and requires 24-hour care, resided at a facility at 32 Waldon Drive, Wright Twp., from May to July 2013.

The complaint alleged the facility was understaffed, suffered from high turnover and required its employees to work “excessive hours.”

During the less than 90 days Dunkle was at the facility, she sustained injuries including fractures and bruising, and is now wheelchair bound, according to the suit.

The lawsuit alleged staff members failed to document all the incidents involving Dunkle, and that they failed to report suspected abuse or neglect involving her care.

The case was scheduled to go to trial earlier this month but the defendants agreed to settle prior to jury selection beginning.

Luzerne County Judge Richard M. Hughes III signed off on the settlement Sept. 15.

Pisanchyn commended Dunkle’s sister, Victoria Ackerman, for noticing her sister’s injuries. Ackerman took over responsibility for Dunkle’s care after the incident, according to the firm.

“Unfortunately, Sandra Dunkle is one of the most vulnerable persons in our society and cannot speak for herself as she is nonverbal,” Pisanchyn said. “However, the Pisanchyn Law Firm is proud of Victoria Ackerman for noticing the issues, standing up for her nonverbal loved one, getting the Pisanchyn Law Firm involved as she now will have the resources she deserves to help care for Sandra.”

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