Siblings Claim Abuse by Ex-Con Health Aide

     PHILADELPHIA (CN) – A pair of elderly disabled siblings were beaten, starved and neglected for years by a home health aide’s ex-con brother, who had been hired to care for the senior citizens, their family claims in court.
     Vivian Simmons and her grand-niece Crystal Simmons, administrator for the estate of Vivian’s brother Samuel, filed suit Tuesday in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas against a trio of Philadelphia nursing and elder care companies, their former employee Gloria Jenkins, and alleged tormentor William Miller.
     The women claim Miller and Jenkins engaged in “systematic neglect, exploitation and abuse” of Vivian and Samuel Simmons, who is now deceased due in part to the severe malnutrition, dehydration and other injuries he suffered at Miller’s hands, the suit says.
     Jenkins – who was assigned to provide daily home health care to the Simmons siblings in 2006 – first introduced Miller to the Simmonses in 2009, the suit says. Samuel Simmons had only one lung, had difficulty breathing and suffered from incontinence and high blood pressure.
     The women say Jenkins convinced the siblings to allow her brother to live at their home in order to provide round-the-clock care for them, but did not tell them that he had just spent six months in county jail on drug charges.
     After a while, Miller began to demand payment from the Simmonses in exchange for the care he was providing, the lawsuit says. At first they gave him money, but cut him off when he “slowly stopped caring” for them, according to the complaint.
     Miller also refused to leave their house when they asked him to. Things got worse when Miller began to “systematically belittle, strike and torment them,” the complaint says.
     Miller withheld food and fluids from Samuel Simmons to prevent him from urinating or defecating on himself. Simmons became so malnourished it “appeared as though he had lost 20 pounds in a few months,” the complaint says.
     In addition to allegedly starving Samuel Simmons, Miller also regularly beat both siblings when they did not comply with his demands for money, the suit says. He allegedly punched Vivian in the face multiple times and gave Samuel “such a severe beating” that he fell to the floor and “was not the same” afterward, the women say in the complaint..
     The severity of the abuse led to Samuel Simmons eventually being hospitalized for his injuries. There, he “immediately placed his hands over his face and stated, ‘Don’t be hitting me no more,'” upon being roused from a nap by nursing staff, the complaint says.
     Although the Simmonses eventually told Jenkins that her brother was beating them and improperly administering Samuel’s medication, she “ignored their pleas” for help and instead began to “frequently miss” work. When she did show up to their home, she “often just watched television or spoke on her telephone” rather than cooking and feeding meals to the Simmonses as she was supposed to, the lawsuit says.
     The Simmonses also reported to their abuse to another caregiver, defendant Byron Woodhouse, who they say was sent to their home as a second health aide by defendant AccuCare Home Nursing. AccuCare had also allegedly hired Miller as an employee in 2013, after he was already a fixture in the Simmons’ home.
     Woodhouse was also indifferent to the alleged abuse, telling Vivian Simmons that she “should get help” when she apprised him of the beatings and then leaving the house promptly thereafter, the lawsuit says.
     In addition to Jenkins, Miller, Woodhouse and AccuCare, the lawsuit names Philadelphia Corporation for the Aging and Lady of Fatima Health Services as defendants. Both initially sent Jenkins to be Samuel Simmons’ daily home health aide in 2006, according to the complaint.
     Authorities finally intervened when Samuel “became unresponsive,” and Vivian – fearing for her brother’s life – finally convinced Jenkins to call an ambulance. When hospital staff saw Samuel’s bruises they questioned all involved parties, and Jenkins and Miller were arrested, the complaint says.
     The family seeks unspecified damages from the defendants, claiming they are liable for assault and battery, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and the wrongful death of Samuel Simmons.
     They are represented by Austin Freundlich of Philadelphia firm Freundlich & Littman.
     Representatives of the defendant organizations were either unavailable or unwilling to comment on the lawsuit.

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