January 11, 2016

$6 million lawsuit hopes to spur change in state’s mental-health system

Creigh Deeds recently filed a $6 million lawsuit against the state of VirginiaVirginia State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds recently filed a $6 million wrongful death lawsuit against the state, Rockbridge Area Community Services Board, and a mental health evaluator. The plaintiff’s lawsuit alleges gross negligence by the defendants for their inability to find a hospital bed for the lawmaker’s mentally ill son, a 24 year-old college student.

In 2013, Deeds’ son attacked him with a knife and committed during a psychotic episode. Deeds was stabbed 13 times by his son just a few hours after the state senator and his wife tried desperately to get help from state mental-health services.

As they watched their son plunge into an all too familiar psychotic event, the young man’s parents sought help from the courts by obtaining an order to have him committed. A judge granted the family’s request and gave them a four-hour window to have their son evaluated by mental health services. After delays by social services and the caseworker, the judge had to issue a two-hour extension to try and help the now deceased man.

Rockbridge Area Community Services Board and the mental health evaluator were negligent and committed medical malpractice when they mismanaged a court-ordered six-hour window to have the trouble youth committed, according to the suit.  The plaintiffs allege that although there were open hospital beds at mental health facilities in the area, the defendant’s’ incompetence kept their son from the treatment he desperately needed.

Deeds and his wife hope the suit spurs change in the state’s mental-health system. While some advancements and programs to alleviate the problems have come to fruition, there is more work to be done. One active program to live-track open hospital bed availability now online could have saved the Deeds’ so but was not available at the time.

Although The Cochran Firm, D.C. is not representing the Deeds in their suit, our firm is none the less committed to issues of public safety. The vision of founding partner Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. was to give the powerless a voice and hold wrongdoers accountable. If you or a loved one suffered a tragic injury or loss of a beloved family member because of someone else’s negligence, contact our office for a free legal consultation about your case.