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The sister of a resident at New Lisbon Development Center in Burlington County, New Jersey has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the center, claiming that her brother was abused and neglected by staff at the facility and ultimately froze to death while in the facility’s care.

The civil suit by Joyce C. Manley of Florida was filed last week in U.S. District Court in Camden. It names the state of New Jersey, the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Department of Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez, other officials from the department’s Division of Developmental Disabilities, and the New Lisbon center.

The suit claims Manley’s brother, 58-year-old James Hollis Jr., died Dec. 11, 2009, after he was taken to Virtua Memorial in Mount Holly with hypothermia, a broken hip and several broken ribs. –

New Lisbon Development Center, run by the State of New Jersey, is a living facility for individuals with developmental disabilities. Hollis, who was born developmentally disabled, had lived at the center since the mid-1980s.

According to the lawsuit, facility staff did not notice that Hollis had a broken hip one morning, when he was also having trouble standing and dressing. An hour later, Hollis was discovered unable to stand, minimally responsive, and hypothermic, and was taken to the hospital, where his core body temperature measured only 84 degrees. As a result of his hip fracture, a liter of blood had also gathered in his hip. The Burlington County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled that hypothermia, complicated by the neglected hip fracture, caused Hollis’ death.

Unfortunately, this is far from the first time the New Lisbon Development Center has been accused of wrongdoing:

In 2003, a federal report concluded that living conditions there were dangerous after investigators documented 4,400 potentially harmful incidents, including 242 classified as major because they involved broken limbs or cuts requiring stitches.

As a result, the center was monitored until about August 2009.

A 2001 report by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also detailed deficiencies at the center, notably understaffing. That same year, there were four fatalities; two were ruled accidental and two were classified as homicides. –

Incidents like this should never happen. State-run facilities like this need more government oversight, not less, and sufficient staffing with adequate pay and training. The fact that this facility has accumulated this many harmful incidents is appalling. Our hearts go out to the family of James Hollis Jr.


  1. Gravatar for Joanne

    I have worked in a similar facility where staffing is poor, not only interms of numbers but also in quality and professionalism. And of course it all comes down to money and the lack there of.

    The facility needs a very high quality nursing director to put things on track who is surrounded by other excellent leaders. They will all follow because good staff really don't want to render sub standard, neglectful, negligent care to their clients. Staff needs education, direction, supervision and to be rewarded (money) for a job well done

  2. Gravatar for Charles A. Carroll
    Charles A. Carroll

    I wrote the book HARD CANDY: Nobody Ever Flies Over the Cuckoo's Nest. It is my true story and is an American tragedy. My brother ans I were wrongly placed at New Lisbon, and there we here abused. Bear in mind, what happened to my brother and me stained our psychology, wreaked havoc with our spirit, and incubated an emotional worm that drilled holes in and out of our psyches until what was left of our psychology resembled the appearance of Swiss cheese. We had to fight off not only the sexual predators of the past who repeatedly raped us over and over again in our photographic memories (such is the case long after the predator is gone), but also deal with the lingering side effects of gender issues, sexuality, masculinity, bonding, trusting others and a host of other problems mandated by having been chronically abused for years—something like living with the erratic splashes of a Jackson Pollock painting, harbored by the dissident crescendos of a Stravinsky temperament. Yes, the innocent pay a life sentence for the guilty, but however challenging life’s journey, quitters we were not, fighters we were, who like wild horses, we refused to be broken—and that is the essence and strength of our remarkable story of survival.

    Read the book and learn more about New Lisbon then and now.

    Charles A. Carroll

    Author, Victim/Advocate for Victims

  3. Gravatar for Mike Ferrara

    Joanne, thank you for your astute comments; I couldn't agree more.

    Charles, thank you so much for sharing your powerful story. More people need to speak out against the abuses in our state-run institutions so that they stop ruining lives. Your courage is inspiring.

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