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The Need for Improved Care for the Mentally Ill and Developmentally Disabled

Domina Law Group’s Nebraska neglect and injury lawyers are passionate advocates for mentally and developmentally disabled persons who have been abused and mistreated.

Beatrice State Developmental Center

In 2009, Domina Law Group represented multiple plaintiffs who were guardians of individuals with special needs. The individuals with special needs were residents at Beatrice State Developmental Center in Nebraska, but were removed in the middle of the night and taken to other locations without the knowledge of their family/guardians. The Defendants named in this case, filed in 2009, were Dave Heineman, Joann Schaefer, M.D., John C. Wyvill, Ron Stegemann and Clare Mahon.

Domina Law Group contended that the Defendants in this case infringed in the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs allotted to them in federal and state law, and sought relief under 42 USC § 3601 and 42 USC § 1983. These particular statutes deal with fair housing and the deprivation of rights, privileges and immunities.

Federal investigators first uncovered problems at the Beatrice State Developmental Center (BSDC) in September 2006. At that time, 285 people with serious disabilities were admitted. After news of the problems broke, BSDC continued to fail to meet regulatory standards in subsequent years. The plaintiffs who lived at BSDC were stripped of their constitutional rights when they were taken from BSDC and transported elsewhere.

According to federal law, any individual with a disability does not have to "accept an accommodation which such individual chooses not to accept."

Eventually, this case was dismissed on the grounds of government immunity. In other words, even though the government erred, they could not be sued because they had immunity. While unfortunate, we believe we proved our point. Improved care for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled is non-negotiable. Read the full complaint here.

New Hampshire Violates Americans with Disabilities Act

Just this month, Attorney General Joseph Foster announced that the state of New Hampshire must reform its practices regarding the mentally ill. This stems from a lawsuit alleging that the state violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to provide adequate community treatment options. The plaintiffs alleged that there were not enough less-restrictive alternatives to mental institutions.

New Hampshire had to agree to improve and expand its community treatment programs and have that completed by 2017. Some of the improvements that will be made include more resources to allow for 24/7 service, mobile teams and more options for housing. Read the entire story about this case on The Telegraph.

Nebraska Neglect Attorneys

These two representative cases serve to show that there is an overwhelming need to reform the way our country treats the mentally ill and developmentally disabled. States have a duty to uphold federal and state law to ensure that the mentally ill and disabled are properly cared for and receive all rights entitled to them by law. Domina Law Group is a staunch advocate for reform in this area.

To learn more about neglect cases such as these and how we are prepared to act, contact a Nebraska personal injury lawyer at our firm today.

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