PHILADELPHIA – A Court of Common Pleas jury awarded $11 million in finding a national health and behavioral rehabilitation chain, Devereux Foundation, liable in the shooting of a Philadelphia man by a resident who had escaped from one of its juvenile placement facilities.
The incident occurred at 2 a.m. on June 23, 2011 as Eric Johnson, now 47, returned home from his job as a nursing assistant and technician at St. Christopher’s Hospital. He was shot in the side as Shykir Crew attempted to rob him only hours after Crew walked out of a Devereux facility in Glenmoore, Chester County.
The bullet fractured several ribs and lodged in Johnson’s spine, where it remains, causing incomplete paraplegia with paralysis that leaves him walking only with great pain and often confined to a wheelchair. He also suffers from bowel and bladder problems as well as post-traumatic stress disorder from the incident.
“I’m happy that Mr. Johnson will be able to now get the care he needs. This verdict will hopefully send a message to Devereux that they need to do a better job supervising these vulnerable residents,” said Dominic Guerrini, of Philadelphia-based Kline & Specter, PC, who represented Johnson with co-counsel Colin Burke.
Scene of earlier escape
Crew was convicted of aggravated assault and related offenses and is in prison. At the time of the 2011 incident, Crew had been ordered to the Devereux facility by a judge because of behavioral issues, including prior arrests for burglary and drug possession.
The Devereux facility in Glenmoore is the same facility from which a 17-year-old boy recently escaped and allegedly went on to attack a 72-year-old woman in her Chester County home. She was found, dehydrated and bruised, after four days, bound and locked in a closet. The teenager was arrested earlier this month.
The Devereux Foundation employs more than 7,000 people and operates a network of clinical, therapeutic, educational and employment programs across 13 states, including Children’s Behavioral Health Services in Glenmoore.
The civil lawsuit claimed that Devereux was grossly negligent and reckless in its supervision of juveniles at the facility and was responsible in part for the injuries suffered by Eric Johnson by allowing Crew to simply walk from the facility, which he had done once before. It noted that the lack of supervision occurred despite the knowledge that the juveniles housed there posed a threat to the community if they left.