Lawyer objects for venue switch in assisted living facility resident's wrongful death action

By Nicholas Malfitano | Sep 7, 2016

PHILADELPHIA – A defense attorney is attempting to switch the venue of a wrongful death and survival action brought by the estate of a former assisted living facility resident, from a Philadelphia court to the Berks County Court of Common Pleas.

Suzanne R. Fisher filed a motion to transfer on June 10, for reasons of improper venue – believing the wrongful death and survival lawsuit initiated by Cheryl Engle and Connie Werley rightfully belonged in Berks County instead, since the subject action the suit centers on took place there.

Engle and Werley’s lawsuit, featuring the plaintiffs acting as estate administrators for decedent Lori A. Dissinger, says Dissinger was mentally handicapped and obsessed with food. Her condition reportedly made eating problematic, as she allegedly had difficulty using her tongue to properly position food in her mouth for digestion, a condition supposedly exacerbated by her medications.

The plaintiffs aver Dissinger was a resident at a group assisted living facility owned and operated by the defendant, Spectrum Community Services, Inc. in Shillington, located in Berks County. On Jan. 12, 2015, the plaintiffs say Dissinger was found choking during a meal, which caused her to be hospitalized for four days.

The following month, on Feb. 27, 2015, Dissinger allegedly wasn’t supervised by facility staff as required, and she found a piece of cooked steak left over from a previous meal. She ate it and began to choke on it, which rendered her unconscious, the lawsuit says.

The lack of oxygen she received during this unconsciousness caused brain damage, and Dissinger passed away the next day at Reading Hospital & Medical Center, where she had been taken for treatment, the lawsuit says.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages in excess of $50,000, plus interest and costs from the defendant in this case, based on charges of negligence-related wrongful death and survival, and the defendant’s alleged failure to train, properly staff and supervise the facility and its residents, such as the decedent.

The plaintiffs are represented by John J. Speicher and Thad M. Gelsinger of Leisawitz Heller, in Wyomissing.

The defendants are represented by Fisher of Cipriani & Werner, in Blue Bell.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 160402551

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at

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