Lawsuit claims Judge John Phillips held hostage in ‘death house’

Nursing home kept dying Judge John Phillips hostage in ‘death house,’ lawsuit claims
Mike Mclaughlin
November 12, 2010
New York Daily News

A Park Slope nursing home has been slapped with new charges that it held a frail Brooklyn judge prisoner by blocking his mail and visitors.

The allegations are the latest twist in a case launched this year by the family of Judge John Phillips against Prospect Park Residence – where Phillips lived for eight months until he died at age 83 in 2008.

“The whole thing was surreal,” said John O’Hara, a lawyer for Phillips’ family and also a longtime friend. “It looked like a nice place, but it was a death house.”

Court papers filed Wednesday said nursing home officials misled Phillips’ family and attorneys about the services they could provide for the diabetic ex-judge.

O’Hara “recently discovered that [Prospect Park Residence] was not in fact an assisted-living facility as they claimed to be,” the lawsuit charged.

Phillips allegedly didn’t get diabetic meals and regular insulin shots, which caused his health to plummet.

“Judge Phillips was confined against his will for approximately eight months by the defendants at their facility … denying [him] proper medical care,” the suit charged.

The nursing home’s website advertises that it can provide blood sugar monitoring and injections as part of its 24-hour care for residents, but doesn’t mention special diets.

“It’s shocking and unbelievable,” said Phillips’ nephew the Rev. Samuel Boykin. “We knew they were giving shabby care, but I never had any reason to think they were breaking the law.”

Prospect Park Residence executive director David Pomerantz declined to talk about the lawsuit.

“On the advice of our attorney, I cannot comment,” he said.

Phillips was in good shape when he arrived by court order at the Prospect Park West facility, but quickly declined, friends said.

His health took a turn for the worse because he wasn’t allowed to leave, have guests or receive calls and mail, his lawyer claims.

“He was getting sicker and more miserable,” said O’Hara

Boykin said that he still hasn’t been allowed to review his uncle’s medical records.

Phillips – known as the “Kung Fu judge” during his 17 years on the Civil Court for making martial arts moves in court – was declared mentally incompetent in 2001.