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Appeal arguments heard in St. Joe's nursing school 'fraud' lawsuit

A group of former nursing students who sued for tuition reimbursement from St. Joseph's Hospital School of Nursing in 2009 argued the appeal for their case before the Superior Court Tuesday.

The former location of St. Joseph's Hospital School of Nursing is seen at left, down the street from St. Joseph's Hospital. Credit: Google Maps
The former location of St. Joseph's Hospital School of Nursing is seen at left, down the street from St. Joseph's Hospital. Credit: Google Maps
Sybil White, 47, is still hoping to become a nurse someday. But first, she needs to get her $5,000 in tuition back.

"I passed the first semester fine. But then the second semester, teachers were going in and out," White recalled of St. Joseph's Hospital School of Nursing. "They told us our grades wasn't good enough."

White and four other students sued the school in 2009 for breach of contract and fraud, claiming the school didn't provide an education, then expelled them. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2013 in part because the school declared bankruptcy.

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But attorney Vivienne Crawford argued at an appeals hearing on Tuesday that the school was operated by North Philadelphia Health Systems, which owns St. Joseph's Hospital, and the lawsuit should continue against the company.

"I find it very suspicious that when we filed to amend [to sue NPHS], they go flying to file for bankruptcy," Crawford said.

A lawyer representing St. Joseph's School of Nursing denied that NPHS operated the school and said they were separate entities.

The nursing school, since renamed The Little Schoolhouse Daycare Center, is still listed in bankruptcy proceedings.

NPHS did not respond to request for comment by press time.

The Superior Court judges are expected to issue a decision on the appeal after deliberating for several weeks.


Bad education?


White and the four other plaintiffs were enrolled in St. Joseph's Hospital School of Nursing, a $22,000 per year "accelerated" one-year registered nurse diploma program that welcomed "nontraditional" students.

But the plaintiffs say supplies — from latex gloves to mannequins for medical instruction — were absent, nursing students were barred from the hospital's doctors-only library, and teachers were often changing jobs.

None of the plaintiffs, who left the school between 2007 and 2009 due to poor academic performance, realized the school was not accredited by the state Board of Nursing.

This lawsuit was first filed in 2009. The former students are seeking refunds of their tuition fees.

 
 
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