ACLU files class action lawsuit in patient dumping case
The man whose story sparked the initial investigation into allegations of patient dumping said he wants justice.Photo: Video by ktnv.com
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The man whose story sparked the initial investigation into allegations of patient dumping said he wants justice.
James Brown, 48, is the plaintiff in a class action lawsuit filed against Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital, some hospital staff members and other government agencies. Brown said his first trip to Rawson-Neal in February was also his last.
"We were dumped off like unwanted people and we're not supposed to be treated that way because we're human beings," said Brown at a news conference on Wednesday with attorneys.
Court records show Brown was admitted to the hospital for psychosis, hearing voices and thinking of suicide. With tears in his eyes, Brown said he was discharged after three days, put in a taxi to the bus station and given a bus ticket to Sacramento, a 15-hour ride he took with some medicine and Ensure in hand.
"Scary. Terrifying. Because I didn't know what to do," said Brown.
The court records claim the defendants denied or violated patients' constitutional rights.
"I am a victim of patient dumping and so are the other people in the class action lawsuit," said Brown.
Civil rights attorney Mark Merin and the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada filed the suit.
"We're already having people contact us just based on the few stories that have been published," said Merin.
The hospital has since fired or disciplined some employees. The accusations of "patient dumping" have also sparked debate over the way the state treats patients with mental needs.
"The government didn't seem particularly outraged," said Allen Lichtenstein with the ACLU of Nevada. "It seemed pretty sanguine about the whole thing, which is why we need to dig deeper, find out how many people this happened to, what happened to them."
The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services referred questions about the lawsuit to the state attorney general's office. In an emailed statement, department spokeswoman Mary Woods said the hospital has strengthened policies, undergone rigorous reviews and brought in national experts to evaluate how patients are treated at Rawson-Neal.
"I feel like I want the true story be told and I want justice to be done," Brown.
Brown, who moved to Nevada about two years ago from South Carolina, said he is now living with his daughter in North Carolina and getting the treatment he needs.
Merin said the defendants have 30 days to respond to the filing.