About Shaffer & Gaier

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Diagnosing Traumatic Brain Injuries

Nearly 50,000 patients die annually from traumatic brain injuries. Now a new study led by the University of Pennsylvania reveals that tiny blood vessels in the brain can offer clues to better treatment, according to an article from UPI’s Health News.

In the study, researchers examined the brains of 27 patients with traumatic brain injury and 14 healthy people using specialized imaging. They assessed the change in blood flow in response to an injury, and the strength and function of the small blood vessels. They also performed seven neuropsychological tests, and interviewed the participants about cognitive and emotional symptoms, including headaches and depression.

The research showed that “changes in the blood vessels may be linked to a range of cognitive symptoms after a traumatic brain injury,” reported the article. Researchers noted that understanding these changes could be the key to more effective treatment patients with TBI, even those who have been suffering for years from symptoms.

When someone you love has suffered a traumatic brain injury because of an accident, being able to recover damages from the negligent party who caused the accident can help with future medical needs. To set up an appointment to discuss your legal options,contact us online or call 215-751-0100.

Why Do ‘Slip and Fall’ Accidents Happen?

From misjudging steps to sliding on oily or wet surfaces, there are many causes of “slip and fall” accidents. But there’s one cause that’s highly preventable, according to a study by insurance provider CNA—and that is the type of flooring. The article in Claims Journal reported that half of the floors tested in a study failed to produce enough friction. That means businesses leave themselves open to potential accidents because of a poor floor purchasing decision.

The report indicated that retail and real estate businesses are most at risk for slip and fall accidents. According to the study:

  • 40 percent of such accidents occurred on entry flooring
  • 33 percent happened on parking lot surfaces, and
  • 27 percent happened on sidewalks leading to business entrances

Less than one percent occurred on interior floors.

The study also uncovered that, over time, slip and fall claims occur more frequently. The report advised business to take steps to minimize the potential for accidents, including choosing flooring that is slip resistant, testing it under wet conditions, and using cleaning agents recommended for that floor type.

Did you or someone you love suffer injuries from a slip and fall? Contact us to discuss your legal options: send us a message online or call 215-751-0100.

What is the Effect of Opioids in Utero?

A recent Philadelphia Inquirer article reported on how America’s opiate epidemic is affecting children, citing a recent study. But what the study didn’t cover, according to the article, is how newborns are affected from exposure in utero.

It may be surprising to think that pregnant mothers consume opioids, but the number is growing, according to the article. The author estimated that there are five times the number of pregnant mothers consuming opioids as compared to 20 years ago.

The effect on a newborn can be devastating. Some newborns experience withdrawal symptoms, known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. If left untreated, it can cause seizures, neurological damage or, in rare cases, death, reported the article. Street drugs consumed by pregnant mothers can worsen the effects.

Not every infant experiences withdrawal, however, according to the article. Some newborns may have no symptoms at all.

Pennsylvania now requires hospitals to report the birth of babies affected by opioid exposure in utero. The rules for reporting are unclear, however, noted the article. Some hospitals only report infants that experience withdrawal, while others will be reporting all newborns exposed to opioids in utero. Still others will report babies exposed to any street drug (including opioids).

Do you have a legal question on a birth injury that you believe is the result of negligence? Contact us online or call 215-751-0100.

Overmedication in Nursing Homes?

Nursing home residents in the U.S. are overmedicated with powerful antipsychotic drugs that may not even be approved for their conditions, the Reading Eagle recently reported. While the use of antipsychotic drugs is down significantly in recent years, advocacy groups have still been calling for tougher measures against improper use, and those appeals were reinforced last month by a report released by the international human rights nonprofit Human Rights Watch detailing the problem.

Antipsychotic drugs are approved to treat serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, according to the article. In nursing homes, these powerful prescriptions often are used to sedate residents with dementia, even though the drugs are not approved for that use. The article reports that elderly dementia patients treated with these drugs face a higher risk of death and suffer other consequences.

“Antipsychotic drugs alter consciousness and can adversely affect an individual’s ability to interact with others, reported the article. “They can also make it easier for understaffed facilities, with direct care workers inadequately trained in dementia care, to manage the people who live there.” The article relayed the story of a California woman with an 88-year-old mother who suffers from dementia. In the article, the woman claimed that “her mother, during stays at three different nursing homes in recent years, was sometimes left neglected for hours at a time in her wheelchair after being given antipsychotics.”

Do you have a loved one who you believe may have been the subject of nursing home neglect, or who suffered ill effects from overmedication? To discuss your legal options, contact us online or call us at  215-751-0100.

Overworked Drivers Lead to Trucking Accidents

U.S. truckers, who work to exhaustion for little to no pay, may be today’s indentured servants, according to USA Today. The news outlet conducted a four-part investigative report which  showed the incredible hardships encountered some truck drivers in the nation, many of whom are poor immigrants and who speak little English.

The first part of the series revealed that truckers are often forced to work long hours against their will. Some companies even put up gates to keep drivers at work, or refuse to pay them until they finish shifts, taking care to falsify records to fall within safe driving hours. The second part of the series alleged that the retail giants that use trucking companies don’t hire the workers directly and therefore claim they are not attributable for these labor abuses. The third part examined how drivers are cheated out of fair wages by having to pay for truck expenses. Sometimes at the end of the week, they owed money to their employer rather than the other way around.

The fourth and final part of the series explored how truckers, worked to the point of exhaustion and well past federal fatigue limits, are effectively impaired on the road. “They dispatch truckers for shifts that last up to 20 hours a day, six days a week, sometimes with tragic results,” reported the article.

If you were involved in a trucking accident, and need advice as to whether you have a case, contact us online or call us at  215-751-0100.

Firm Newsletter: December, 2017

Click here to download a printable pdf of this newsletter.


Hospital Ignores Complaints of Patient with Fatal Infection

We represented the estate of a 82-year-old woman who died when a Delaware County hospital didn’t recognize the extent of a lower back infection. While her symptoms pointed to an infection, the hospital staff largely ignored her complaints, attributing it to her being cranky and older, something we commonly find when representing elderly people. The estate was comprised of her husband and children and they had an active, warm family life right up until the time she was hospitalized from the infection, which spread and led to her death. At trial, the defense continually pointed to our client’s age and attempted to paint a picture that since she was 80 years old, she didn’t experience “life’s pleasures” any longer, and her damages should be minimized. We effectively countered that one’s later years could be, should be, and often were the happiest ones, a premise that we use whenever we represent an elderly client. The case settled after closing arguments, for a substantial but confidential amount.

Nursing Home Resident Left in Restroom Suffers Tragic Fall

In a case that was rejected by two other Philadelphia law firms, we represented an elderly woman who was a full-time resident in a suburban Philadelphia nursing home. She was able to move about her room with the assistance of a walker and a nursing aide, but the nursing home placed her on strict instructions not to walk without staff assistance. After a nurse helped our client to the restroom, she pushed a call button, but there was no response. She then hollered for the nurse to assist her back to her bed, but no one responded for 15 minutes. Our client, getting anxious and feeling scared, attempted to walk back to her bed herself, using her walker for assistance. Unfortunately, she fell and broke her hip, resulting in three operations and over $65,000 in medical bills. In many nursing home settings, we have found that staff is spread too thin to meet patient needs. As a result, many basic, but necessary, services and activities are not delivered. Because of our client’s advanced age, we filed suit in federal court, where the docket often moves faster than in state court. The case was settled by the federal court magistrate judge after two settlement conferences.

Diabetic Condition Improperly Managed by Nursing Home Facility

We represented an 80-year-old woman in relatively good health, but who had trouble managing a diabetic condition. As a result, her children decided that a nursing home would be a better environment for her. However, after just a few weeks of residency, she was transported twice to a hospital because her diabetic condition spiked, something that never happened when her children – with no specialized training – cared for her. A few weeks later, when her sugar became extremely elevated, she was transported back to the hospital, but went into septic shock and diabetic ketadosis and died. Shaffer & Gaier filed a wrongful death and survival action against the nursing home and its attending physician. After extensive discovery, the parties agreed to submit the matter to binding arbitration. We presented experts that proved that the nursing home failed to properly monitor or recognize her severe condition. Several family members testified that she was truly in her golden years – enjoying her grandchildren and great grandchildren and very active in her church. The arbitrator returned a substantial award in our favor.

Incredible (and sometimes downright unbelievable) stories of things that happened with cases.
(Really, they did.)

Lessons Worth Learning.

We had a very long seat belt product liability trial in federal court. The trial was lengthy, complex and stressful. The federal judge was a senior judge and 82 years old at the time of trial. During the trial, we settled with one defendant but the jury unfortunately returned a verdict in favor of the remaining defendant. After the trial, the judge wrote us a letter that is actually framed in our office. It reads as follows:

“I told you that this case was a pain in the ass. It does not mean that I did not learn anything. Everything is worth it if we learn something new. It is one of the rewards of our profession. I repeat what I told you – you did a great job in serving your client. Of paramount importance is that you were effective advocates consistent with the best qualities and standards of the  profession.”

The defense verdict was not easy to swallow but the judge’s wise words sure put things in perspective.

Firm Newsletter: October, 2017

Click here to download a printable pdf of this newsletter.


I-95 Crash Results in $800,000 Settlement During Trial

In a case that presented us with difficult liability facts, we obtained an $800,000 settlement for a client who struck the rear of a parked tow truck on I-95. The client, a senior in college, was driving home after a Phillies game. Another vehicle had broken down and a tow truck was called to the scene. The tow truck operator had his standard lights on but he did not engage his flashers or strobe light, and the truck was partially parked in the lane of travel. As a result of the accident, our client suffered broken ribs, a fractured clavicle and scarring on her abdomen and chest. We were able to recreate the accident using a variety of experts and computer aided graphics and video which showed that our client thought the vehicle was moving when, in fact, it was stopped on the highway. We were then able to prove that since the tow truck was parked partially on the highway, the driver and the towing company violated various codes and federal regulations regarding commercial vehicles.

$1 Million Settlement for Defective Airbag

We represented the estate of a woman who was killed when her airbag deployed in a very low speed crash – a one car accident in an empty parking lot. The woman, 60 years old at the time, had recently received her learner’s permit and went to the parking lot with her son-in-law to practice driving. She was a very slight woman, approximately 5’2″ and weighed less than 105 lbs. At the
time of the accident, the car was traveling less than 20 m.p.h., but due to the defective design of the vehicle, when the airbag was deployed it struck her head, breaking her neck and killing her instantly. Our discovery revealed that the automobile manufacturer did no testing to determine if it was safe for drivers who were small in stature, and several of our experts established that the airbag was unsafe as it was designed. After several rounds of mediation, the case was eventually settled.

Trucking Accident Yields Sizable Settlement

Shaffer & Gaier was able to secure a sizeable settlement for a driver who was rear-ended by a tractor trailer (the terms of the settlement require us to keep the amounts strictly confidential). Our client was traveling in New Jersey and was stopped in a traffic jam. The driver of an 18 wheel tractor trailer smashed into her vehicle, causing her significant injuries. Although our client had
neck and back injuries, her main complaint was to her hearing: due to the deployment of the air bags, our client had constant ringing in her ears and suffered hearing loss. Shaffer & Gaier provided expert testimony that proved that the ringing in her ears was caused by the auto accident. As a result of this, we secured a substantial settlement on her behalf.

Incredible (and sometimes downright unbelievable) stories of things that happened with cases.
(Really, they did.)

“Not for nuttin’, but…”

We were in the fifth day of a jury trial in Philadelphia for a very serious and complicated motor vehicle accident. A commercial truck had crashed into our client’s car on I-95, shutting the highway down for six hours. The case was hotly contested on liability and damages. We had five experts; the defendant had four. We expected the trial to last at least two weeks.

Our last expert was an accident reconstructionist. He was on the stand explaining the mechanics of the accident and our theory of liability. Having lived and worked his entire life in New York, he had a thick Brooklyn accent.

During his testimony, we were called to sidebar on the far side of the courtroom from the witness stand. Suddenly, a court clerk ran to the stand and said something to the expert and a juror. Without knowing what, if anything, was discussed, the defendant’s lawyer demanded a mistrial, claiming the entire jury was now tainted by the personal interaction between witness and juror #6. The jury was then dismissed for the weekend.

On Monday, the trial judge questioned each juror if they heard or saw anything; they all said they had not. It turned out that juror #6 innocently asked our expert “How’s New York?”, to which our expert even more innocently replied “American League or National?” He was an avid Yankees fan.

The judge appropriately dismissed juror #6. The trial continued, and we settled a few days later while the jury was deliberating.

Firm Newsletter: August, 2017

Click here to download a printable pdf of this newsletter.


Construction Accident Settlement: 7th Largest in PA in 2016
Construction fall ends in $1.2 Million Settlement Before Jury Selection

Shaffer & Gaier represented a union shop iron worker severely hurt in a fall. Our client was working at a local university on an expansion project to construct a field house for the school. The university contracted with Sordoni Construction to act as the general contractor and construction manager. Sordoni then hired Rise Construction to fabricate and erect steel for the field house, who hired our client’s employer to erect the steel structure.

In early January of 2012, our client was assigned to work at the field house. He later shared in depositions that when he came to the site, he was shown a brief training video but was never given any fall protection training and never saw any safety personnel at the site from Rise or Sordoni. When he was instructed to climb a 15 foot wall to position steel joists that were to be welded the next day, he was not given fall protection equipment and there were no anchor points where he was working to tie off his harness. He was, in essence, walking a balance beam on a blustery January day. While he was walking the wall, he fell to the ground, shattering both feet and ankles.

Shaffer & Gaier brought suit against the general contractor and subcontractor. Through one of the premier construction experts in the country, we established that both the contractor and subcontractor violated their respective duties in failing to provide a safe work environment. The general contractor filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, which was originally granted by the magistrate judge, however, Shaffer & Gaier successfully overturned that decision. Before jury selection, the case was settled for $1.2 million. Additionally, the firm negotiated that the workers’ compensation lien be waived, effectively awarding our client $1.5 million.

Fellow Subcontractor’s Negligence Results in $1 Million Settlement During Trial

Another client was a construction worker performing work at the University of Pennsylvania. As he was descending a stairway, another subcontractor’s workers negligently removed a plank of wood, creating a large hole. He fell into the hole and tore his biceps, resulting in multiple surgeries. Shaffer & Gaier retained several construction experts to establish that this was an unreasonably
dangerous work site created by the negligence of the other subcontractor. After 4 days of trial, the matter settled against the subcontractors that negligently created the dangerous job site.

Incredible (and sometimes downright unbelievable) stories of things that happened with cases.
(Really, they did.)

Insurance Coverage Matters.

With all the debate about health care, let there be no doubt insurance coverage matters on the health care provided.

We represented “Richard W.” some years back. He was 35 years of age with a history of high blood pressure.

He went to a Montgomery County Hospital Emergency Room with excruciating head aches and exceptionally high blood pressure.

Unfortunately, Richard did not have health insurance, due to a recently layoff from his construction job. He was placed under the care of one of the staff neurologists.

The neurologist suspected that the symptoms might be caused by a clot in the brain but did not order a CT scan. As it turns out, Richard did, in fact have a clot in his brain that was causing the headaches.

The clot moved, causing Richard to have a massive stroke. He died weeks later.

Unbelievably, the doctor admitted during his deposition that he did not order the testing because of the lack of insurance. Soon after, the case settled for a confidential sum. Let there be no doubt, insurance coverage matters in the care you actually get!

Firm Newsletter: June, 2017

Click here to download a printable pdf of this newsletter.


National Lab Pays for Genetic Testing Error
Michael Shaffer secured a settlement for the parents of a child who contracted a severe and rare disorder that was missed through genetic testing. The clients, residents of Sacramento, CA, sought genetic counseling before having children, as the father had a rare genetic condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) that ran in his family. EDS is a genetic disorder that causes severe vascular and connective tissue complications; it is often fatal.

The clients had sought genetic counseling to determine whether the father was a carrier; if so, they would opt for a pregnancy through in-vitro fertilization to ensure the gene did not pass to the child.

The father had bloodwork done which was sent to the defendant’s lab in Allentown, PA and the lab informed the father that the test was negative for EDS. The parents then had a child naturally. In 2012, the father developed severe complications that were similar to EDS. When new genetic testing was done it confirmed that he was, in fact, a carrier for EDS. Subsequently, testing was done on their son, which confirmed that he, too, had EDS. Had the initial test not been misread by the lab, their child would not be faced with the uncertainty of a future with EDS. However, a large settlement obtained before trial will provide for his future medical expenses.

Man Injured by Defective Paint Can at Work Turns to Shaffer & Gaier, Wins $1,000,000
A client of Michael Shaffer whom we’ll call “Matt” was employed by a concrete manufacturing plant. His responsibilities included inspecting the concrete molds for cracks and defects. When he would notice a crack or defect, he had been instructed by his employer to mark the defect with spray paint.

However, one day, as he shook a new can of spray paint, the bottom of the can flew off, creating a missile-like object that struck Matt in the face. The sheer force caused him to fracture his eye socket and lose sight in his left eye.

Shaffer & Gaier brought a product liability action against the manufacturer and seller of the spray paint can, alleging that the product was not properly tested during the manufacturing process and establishing during extensive discovery that the defendants had a history of similar incidents.

Shaffer & Gaier Saves Family Home from Major Mortgage Lender
Michael Gaier represented a son and daughter whose father was tricked into refinancing their Philadelphia home they grew up in and which had been in the family for 42 years. The clients’ father, who was 79 years of age, did not realize the negative extent of the mortgage loan terms during the refinancing process. When he died suddenly, his son and daughter were faced with the choice of paying the mortgage loan in full or lose the house.

When the lender filed a foreclosure action against the father’s estate, Shaffer & Gaier filed a counterclaim right back against the bank seeking money damages for the fraud inflicted upon the father and, in effect, the entire family. After discovery was exchanged between the parties, a confidential settlement was reached which not only included cash and reduction of the loan balance, but more importantly, the right for the clients to purchase the family home at a reduced value with excellent interest rates.

Firm Challenges Big Bank, Gets Significant Principal Reduction for Local Hero
Michael Gaier worked with a client, a fireman in Camden, NJ, after he bought a house for $252,000 and encountered fraud upon settlement. He had been promised a 6% interest rate, but at closing, the rate jumped to 10.5% with the potential to reach 16.5%.At closing, the mortgage broker advised that the man would need to obtain a second mortgage in order to qualify: an additional $60,000 in financing. Sensing his apprehension, the lender advised him that he could refinance in one year. However, when he tried refinancing later, the mortgage company refused to answer his calls or emails; they subsequently went out of business.

A large bank acquired the loan and filed a foreclosure lawsuit. However, upon Shaffer & Gaier’s sign-on as the man’s law firm, the bank withdrew its lawsuit one day before the trial. Shaffer & Gaier then brought a parallel action against the bank for predatory lending, fraud and misrepresentation of important terms of the mortgage, which resulted in a settlement that lowered the principal balance by $166,000 and negotiated a 3.5% interest rate for the remaining balance. In addition, the firm secured a 90% reduction in the principal balance of the second mortgage

Michael Shaffer Named President Elect of Temple American Inn of Court
Michael Shaffer has been named the president elect of the Temple American Inn of Court. The American Inns of Court, a national organization, was formed in the late 1970s by a group of judges. Wishing to reinforce polished skills, professionalism and ethics of the bench and bar, they based the principles of the organization on the traditional English model of legal apprenticeship, modified to fit the needs of the American legal system. Now, hundreds of chapters across the United States offer members the opportunity to come together and learn from one another, especially the more experienced individuals in the group. Members include judges, lawyers, law professors and third-year legal students.

Michael Gaier Presents Educational Program to NJ Homeowners
Michael Gaier recently presented a foreclosure defense seminar to homeowners at the Voorhees Camden County library. In his presentation, Gaier provided in-depth insight into how homeowners who have become delinquent in their mortgage payments have numerous legal options to save their home, either in conjunction with a foreclosure action or with other remedies. Gaier is a recognized mortgage foreclosure defense authority who has represented thousands of homeowners in matters involving loan reduction, foreclosure and predatory lending.

Incredible (and sometimes downright unbelievable) stories of things that happened with cases.
(Really, they did.)


Shaffer & Gaier was contacted by the mother of two children whose husband, “Omar,” was killed in a car accident in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.

Omar had been performing maintenance work on water lines in Chester and was checking the line pressure while standing in a manhole. His body was positioned partially inside the manhole and partially above street level. A Chester Water Authority vehicle was parked – illegally – behind Omar. Suddenly, a vehicle lost control and struck the Chester Water Authority vehicle. The impact pushed the vehicle forward and over the manhole, striking and killing Omar.

Our client, “Victoria,” though separated from Omar, had been sharing custody of their two sons. As a matter of course, Victoria requested a copy of the death certificate through the funeral home,
where she was shockingly informed that they were divorced.

Apparently, two weeks before his death, Omar had filed for divorce in Cambria County in upstate Pennsylvania. As Victoria had never signed the paperwork, it was determined that her signature had been forged by someone.

Shaffer & Gaier mobilized investigators and legal personnel in Cambria County to have the divorce decree voided. Victoria has since brought suit on behalf of Omar’s estate so her two children
can attempt to recover damages for their father’s tragic and untimely death.

“Suit: If they did their job, kids’d be alive”

The following is the text of an article printed today in the Philadelphia Daily News and Philadelphia Inquirer newspapers.
Click here for a pdf of the Daily News article; for the Inquirer article, click here.

By Julia Terruso
Staff Writer

Anthony Singleton lies awake most nights haunted by questions of what he could have done to prevent the death of his infant son and 3-year-old stepdaughter. He searches for signs he might have
missed in the behavior of his wife, who is charged with killing them.

“I thought she was all right,” Singleton said last week. “This would be the last thing I thought she would do.The very last thing.”

Singleton, 59, is suing the child welfare agency Turning Points for Children, a DHS contractor, that facilitated the reunification of his son, St. Leo, and stepdaughter, Ariel, with their mother, Sophia Hines. Hines is charged with smothering the children with a bedsheet in June 2016. She was ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial and is being held in a psychiatric facility in Florida.

The lawsuit, filed Monday, alleges that Turning Points, which was providing services to the family, failed to consult with Department of Human Services psychologists or review Hines’ medical information before recommending that the court release the children back into her custody. Hines was on medication for an underlying psychiatric condition and suffering from postpartum depression, according to an agency review of the deaths.

“If they did their job, these kids would be alive today,” said attorney Michael Shaffer,who is representing Singleton with his law partner Michael Gaier. “Anthony is not an expert.He’s not a psychiatrist. He does not have the ability to evaluate what’s appropriate for reunification.That’s their job.”

The suit alleges negligence and wrongful death, and seeks damages for Singleton on behalf of his son and for four relatives of Hines’ on behalf of her daughter. Turning Points CEO Michael
Vogel said Monday he could not comment on pending litigation. A review of the deaths found Hines had not signed consent to enable the agency to obtain her medical records.

“Turning Points for Children is deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of these children last year,” Vogel said. “Our work in caring for and supporting children and families is challenging and complex, and while we cannot comment on open litigation or specific case details,we continue to stay focused on working closely with DHS to ensure the safety of all children and families
in our community.”

Singleton, a former Marine who works as a traffic flagger, met Hines, who emigrated from Jamaica, in 2015. Hines already had her then-2-year-old daughter, Ariel,whom Singleton called “the
smartest little girl in the world.”

“I’ve never seen a kid so young that remembers that much,” Singleton said. “She was like a tape recorder. You told her you were going to do something, she remembered.”

When Hines got pregnant with St.Leo, something shifted, Singleton said. She moved out of Singleton’s home and into a shelter. Ten days after giving birth, she brought both of her children to
Einstein Medical Center, saying she was depressed and overwhelmed.

The children were placed in foster care for six months, during which Hines and Singleton reunited and got married at a small ceremony at their home in Frankford. Singleton said that he wanted
Hines to know he was fully committed to his new son and stepdaughter, and that he accompanied her to scheduled visits with the kids. Things seemed to be better between them, he said.

“I loved her, and I thought that was the right thing to do,” he said. “I learned the hard way that you can’t get married for anything other than love.”

In April 2016, Turning Points recommended to Family Court that Hines regain custody. It was later revealed in a review of the case that the agency did so without conducting a parenting-capacity
evaluation and thus without knowledge of Hines’ mental health status. The reunification was based in part on a letter from a social work intern who knew Hines for less than a month.

Singleton said that if Hines was exhibiting signs of distress at the time, he missed them. He was working 12-hour days, and the couple were living together off and on.

Shaffer said his case will show the children were returned too soon.

“She tried to do the best she could when she took the kids back to Einstein initially. She told them, ‘I’m in over my head here, help me,’ ” Shaffer said. “Then it’s their job to appropriately reunify.
I wish I could say they did a bad job. They didn’t do anything on the checklist they were supposed to do, and it’s very clear reunification never should have happened —she was clearly not ready.”

In mid-May, Hines told Singleton she was going to visit her brother in Queens, New York City. Instead, she took the children, via bus, to Miramar, Fla., where she stayed with a cousin. When she didn’t answer Singleton’s calls, he became alarmed.

On June 9, police responded to Hines’ cousin’s home and found both children unresponsive, lying side by side on a bed. Hines admitted to killing the children in an interview with police in which she answered few questions and appeared catatonic, according to police reports. The report said Hines had scratches on her face, which indicate Ariel, whom she said she killed second, fought back.

After finding out about his son’s death, Singleton flew to Florida to identify the bodies and bring them home.

He said he couldn’t work for nearly a year because of the shock. Now he regularly visits a psychiatrist at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and relies on his West Philadelphia church community
and the distraction of his job.

He said he hopes the lawsuit promotes more diligence on the part of the agencies charged with protecting children.

“I just wanted justice for the kids. It wasn’t any more than that. I felt really that they were wrong, and I said if somebody’s responsible for that, make them know they were wrong so this
won’t happen to anyone else.”

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Our Latest News Posts

Diagnosing Traumatic Brain Injuries

Nearly 50,000 patients die annually from traumatic brain injuries. Now a new study led by the University of Pennsylvania reveals that tiny blood vessels in the brain can offer clues to better treatment, according to an article from UPI’s Health … [Read More...]

Why Do ‘Slip and Fall’ Accidents Happen?

From misjudging steps to sliding on oily or wet surfaces, there are many causes of “slip and fall” accidents. But there’s one cause that’s highly preventable, according to a study by insurance provider CNA—and that is the type of flooring. The … [Read More...]