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New Jersey’s Bancroft Neurohealth and Its Audubon Group Home Accused of Negligent Patient Care; Unsupervised Patient Set Himself on Fire; Severe Burns Required Leg Amputation


CAMDEN, N.J., Sept. 7 -- The parents of a 29-year-old disabled Woodbury man requiring constant supervision have gone to court to determine how their son could have been left unsupervised at a Bancroft Neurohealth group home long enough to set himself on fire in January 2004, causing severe burns that resulted in the amputation of his right leg.

In a lawsuit filed in New Jersey Superior Court alleging gross negligence on the part of several defendants, including Bancroft Neurohealth, its Payson residential home in Audubon and administrative and medical personnel who participated in the care of Ivan Smith, it is alleged that Smith’s caregivers knew or should have known that Smith - brain damaged as a result of being struck by a car when he was four years old - posed a potential threat to his own personal safety unless he was closely supervised. Bancroft officials, who assured the family that Ivan would be safe in their care, were notified prior to his admission that Smith required around-the-clock, professional attention and that under no circumstances was he to have access to lighters or matches. His past impulsive behavior included starting fires.

Michael F. Barrett, Esquire, of the firm Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky, PC, an attorney for the Smith family, says that just nine days before the January 21, 2004 incident, there was a fire at Bancroft’s Day Treatment Services facility while Ivan was there. The local Fire Marshal investigated and determined, after interviewing Ivan, that he likely caused the fire. The Fire Marshal strongly admonished the group home to monitor Ivan very closely and absolutely prohibit his possession of lighters or matches. Tragically, later that same day, January 21, Ivan set himself on fire in a bathroom at the Payson residence.

According to the Complaint, prior to the fire, Ivan was seen smoking a cigarette by staffers of the home. When questioned, he denied having a lighter or matches, but was never searched. His injuries as a result of the fire were so severe his right leg had to be amputated below the knee and he still suffers physical effects including permanent damage to his trachea, as well as mental duress.

“Bancroft claims to be motivated by ”compassion“ and that its programs can ”only be as good as the people who provide services“ to their clients,” says Barrett. “Clearly, this has not been the track record of the Bancroft organization and there was absolutely no compassion for Ivan Smith based on the actions of the defendants.” He said the investigation leading to the filing of the lawsuit shows that Ivan Smith was an innocent, vulnerable victim at the hands of those entrusted with his care and supervision.


Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky, P.C. is dedicated to the representation of people who have been seriously or fatally injured. With offices in Philadelphia and Cherry Hill, New Jersey, the firm specializes in highly complex cases, including those involving medical malpractice, catastrophic construction site and other workplace accidents, products and premises liability and civil rights. Its main office is located on the 52nd Floor of One Liberty Place in Center City Philadelphia. For further information call 215-496-8282 or visit


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