Court rules against Ellen Greenberg’s family in civil lawsuit

  • Ellen Greenberg was found dead with 20 stab wounds on her body
  • Police ruled her death a suicide after initially determining it a homicide
  • The family sued to compel the city to change the manner of death

(NewsNation) — A Pennsylvania court has ruled the family of Ellen Greenberg does not have standing to sue the city of Philadelphia over the investigation into the woman’s death, even though the court determined that investigation was “deeply flawed.”

Joshua and Sandy Greenberg sued the city Medical Examiner’s Office in 2019 seeking to have their daughter’s manner of death changed from a suicide to homicide or undetermined. It was originally ruled a homicide and later changed to a suicide.

Greenberg’s body was discovered Jan. 26, 2011, by her fiancé, Samuel Goldberg, who told police he kicked open the apartment door after returning home from the gym and receiving no answer from Greenberg. Once inside, Goldberg said, he found his fiancée in the kitchen, leaning against a cabinet with a knife in her chest and 20 stab wounds.

The family alleged in their lawsuit that the medical examiner initially ruled the death a homicide but later reversed course after a closed-door meeting with city police.

The state Commonwealth Court ruled last week that they had “no choice under the law” but to grant the city’s appeal to stop the civil suit from going to trial, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The justices did not rule on whether the manner of death could be changed but said the family did not have standing to sue.

However, the justices said in the 39-page opinion that their court’s review of the investigation “is clearly warranted with hopes that equity may one day prevail for the victim and her loved ones.”

“I’m more surprised what they wrote in our favor than they ruled against us totally,” Joshua Greenberg told the Inquirer. “It seems like somebody has a conscience here. They may have been judges in the judicial sense, and they didn’t want to change the law, but they definitely feel something is wrong.”

Sandra Greenberg told NewsNation in February that she “want(s) my daughter’s name cleared” and called the police investigation a “disgrace.”

Greenberg suffered stab wounds to her torso, back and head. The family consulted two experts, one of whom determined that a stab wound to her brain would have resulted in “severe pain, cranial nerve disfunction and traumatic brain signs” as well as “numbness, tingling (and) irregular heartbeat.”

That conclusion went against the findings in the medical examiner’s report, which determined that there was no damage to the spinal cord. But the Philadelphia Inquirer reported in 2019 that neuropathologist Dr. Lucy Rorke-Adams said she had no recollection of the case, despite being the doctor cited in the medical examiner’s report.

Greenberg’s father contends there’s no plausible way she could have inflicted all of the stab wounds to herself. He also says she was a victim of abuse, citing bruises at different stages of healing on her body.

“My daughter was a victim of a brutal homicide,” Josh Greenberg told NewsNation in February. “The police didn’t do anything.”

The district attorney in Chester County, which neighbors Philadelphia, is reviewing the case. The DA’s office said in January the case is still being investigated, and it gave no timeline for the probe.

The Greenbergs told the Inquirer they are discussing with their attorney whether they will appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.


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