As in all major cities, the issue of dealing appropriately with those in need of psychiatric care is a complicated problem for Las Vegas. If psychiatric patients are placed in treatment with a health institution run by the city or state, and are found to have suffered civil rights violation while under this care, the patients and their families may choose to bring civil suits in order to receive compensation for their injuries.
The Nevada branch of the American Civil Liberties Union has stated its intention to pursue a class-action lawsuit against Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital, located in Las Vegas. The ACLU claims that the hospital behaved negligently when it provided a patient with a bus ticket to California when he did not have a proper support system in that state. If this case becomes a class-action suit, it could involve 1,500 people that were bused out of Nevada since 2008, allegedly to lighten the strain on state resources.
While a U.S. District Court judge recently dismissed the suit, the ruling was not based on the merits of the case, and the plaintiff may refile. The action seeks compensation for the patient who was bused to California, and also requests a judicial order to halt Nevada’s ability to remove psychiatric patients from the state. One of the plaintiff’s attorneys commented that an appeal in this case could take years to reach resolution.
For those who believe they have viable legal claims against a city or state, it may be a good idea to speak with an attorney to fully understand what the process may entail, including the possibility of a class action suit or the likely length of necessary civil appeals.
Source: Las Vegas Sun, “Federal judge dismisses lawsuit in Nevada ‘patient dumping’ case,” Ken Ritter, Feb. 13, 2014.