A lawsuit filed Jan. 22 in Luzerne County court claims that a Hope Enterprises Inc. caretaker is to blame for the choking death of a 30-year-old Williamsport man in January 2011 and asks the jury to award the man's mother more than $600 million in damages from the caretaking agency.
Linda Heim, of Williamsport, filed the suit. Her son, Nathan McHenry, died Jan. 29, 2011, as a result of an incident Jan. 22, 2011, at the Hope Enterprises group home at 1923 Mahaffey Lane, according to the suit.
The suit claims that McHenry choked on a piece of bread when left alone, and that led to his death a week later.
The suit asks for $600 million for negligence, $12 million for wrongful death and $6 million in punitive damages.
Scranton-based attorney Michael Pisanchyn, representing Heim, said of the $618 million amount asked for in the suit that "you have to aver over the arbitrational limits, or you don't get the right to a jury trial."
"Aver" means the plaintiff must assert in a suit that damages done are over the amount where a case goes to arbitration - the minimum amount in question to avoid arbitration in Luzerne County is $50,000.
A Luzerne County jury awarded $3.2 million last October to the family of Barbara Maines. Maines, of Berwick, died in September 2009, days after the transport van in which she was riding crashed in the parking lot of Suncom Inc., a Hope Enterprises day program provider. Pisanchyn also was the plaintiff's attorney in that case.
Jim Campbell, Hope Enterprises president, declined comment.