Saturday, August 28, 2010

NY case of autistic teen who died in state care settled

From the Albany Times Union:

ALBANY, N.Y. -- The parents of Jonathan Carey (pictured), the 13-year-old autistic boy who died while in state care, have quietly settled a nearly $6 million lawsuit against a private facility the child had earlier attended.

Michael Carey said the settlement with the Anderson Center for Autism, based in Staatsburg, Dutchess County, was reached in June, just before they were to go to trial in state Supreme Court in Albany County.

Carey wouldn't specify how much they settled for other than saying it was an amount in the six figures.

"It helped us move forward but we still have concerns," Michael Carey said, explaining that many of the staffers who were at Anderson during Jonathan's stay are still in place. Carey has been critical of both the center and the state agencies that oversee it.

The settlement papers in the case haven't been filed in court and it remained unclear if the settlement amount would be listed there. Court records indicate that the case, which dates to 2005, had been assigned to Justice Joseph Teresi on June 10, which suggests a trial was imminent.

The Careys' lawyer, Daniel Persing, couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday. Anderson officials declined comment.

Michael and Lisa Carey placed their autistic son, Jonathan, at Anderson in 2003, but pulled him out in 2004 after growing concerned about his treatment. They later found that workers there had withheld food from Jonathan, and when the father made a surprise visit at one point he found his son naked in his room, covered in bruises and no longer toilet-trained, according to court records.

After Anderson, Jonathan was placed in the state-run O.D. Heck Center in Niskayuna. The child died in February 2007 after suffocating while he was being restrained during an outing.

O.D. Heck is operated by the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, formerly known as the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. The same agency licenses but doesn't operate the Anderson Center.

One of the O.D. Heck workers, Nadeem Mall, pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide and another, Edwin Tirado, was convicted of manslaughter. The Careys, who subsequently pushed for and got better state disclosure laws regarding the disabled, still have a federal lawsuit pending against O.D. Heck.