When a staff member at Woods Services in December 2016 punched Samuel Moskowitz in the face and threw a plastic bowling pin at his head, the damage went far beyond the then-13-year-old-boy’s broken nose.
“After making progress, now he has post-traumatic stress disorder. It brought him right back to where he was before,” Sammy’s mother, Stephanie Moskowitz, said of the assault on the boy who has autism and a brain condition that gives him an unsteady, lurching stride. “This has been a major setback for Sammy and our family.”
Stephanie Moskowitz’s attorney, Michael D. Shaffer, of Shaffer & Gaier LLC in Center City, tried for months to reach an out-of-court settlement with Woods, a Langhorne nonprofit provider of services for children and adults with intellectual and other disabilities.
That effort went nowhere, so on Thursday Shaffer filed a lawsuit on behalf of Moskowitz and her son in Bucks County Common Pleas Court. The suit seeks unspecified damages for assault and battery and negligence to help pay the future costs of caring for Samuel.
Among the allegations by Moskowitz are failure by Woods to “provide adequate supervision and treatment to Sammy” and “failure to employ individuals who possess adequate skill and training to properly interact with and supervise Sammy.”
Woods provided a statement in response to the lawsuit: “Woods Services always strives to provide exceptional care to individuals with exceptional needs. The safety and security of our residents and the staff we employ is our highest priority. This incident occurred in 2016. The worker acted solely on his own, he did not comply with Woods standards, Woods immediately dismissed him, and Woods called the police who arrested him. Woods also immediately assessed the resident medically and sought treatment for him at St. Mary Medical Center.”
The assailant, Shawn Green, then 25, was charged with endangering the welfare of children and simple assault. In July, the Philadelphia resident pleaded guilty to simple assault. His penalty was to pay court costs and to have no further contact with Woods School or Samuel Moskowitz.
Woods, which employs 1,900 and has more than 600 residents on its 300-acre campus, was the subject of a blistering report in October by Disability Rights New York. The report alleged that Woods had “serious and troubling deficiencies” in its programs.
Woods said the report was “massively out of kilter with reality” and the product of activists who want to shut down all campus-based facilities like Woods.