A Missouri private care home has been accused of “wrongful death” for its alleged abusive treatment of a man with developmental disabilities, who, according to an amended lawsuit filed Tuesday, was forced to do manual labor, sleep on the basement floor, and fight with another man for the “amusement” of the care home staff.
Thirty-one-year-old Carl DeBrodie was found dead in April 2017, months after he was reported missing. His body was encased in concrete in a container at a local storage unit, the lawsuit, filed by DeBrodie’s mother, Carolyn Summers, alleges.
Summers claims that her son received poor treatment throughout his months-long stay at Second Chance Homes, explaining that government agencies failed to check on him and his family was prevented from visiting him. The home’s manager, Sherry Paulo, and another employee, Anthony Flores, allegedly kept DeBrodie and another resident in the concrete basement and forced the two to fight one another for the entertainment of the staff. DeBrodie sustained numerous injuries, as a result.
According to the suit, when DeBrodie woke up with seizures one night, the staff failed to call 911 and, instead, moved him to the bathtub with the water running, where he later died. His body remained there for days before being moved to the storage area.
“The facts are starting to get clearer,” said Summers’ lead attorney, Rudy Viet, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune. “Gross negligence is putting it kindly.”
The suit against Second Chance Homes, a private facility that received federal, state, and county funds — was first filed in January. Summers this week filed an amended complaint alleging that the home violated DeBrodie’s civil rights. The changes resulted in the case being transferred from the local circuit court to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, under federal purview.
The Missouri Department of Mental Health, one of the defendants named in the suit, told a local ABC affiliate in April that it can’t be held responsible for DeBrodie’s treatment because Second Chance Homes is a private facility.
The case against Second Chance Homes sheds light on the often problematic and harmful treatment of individuals with mental disabilities in such assisted living and nursing homes. A 2016 study examining mental illness in assisted living centers “observed shunning of, or self-isolation by, those with [several mental illness]” and found that staff receive “little or no training regarding the special medical and social needs of persons with” mental illnesses.
Last year, the Trump administration implemented new guidelines aimed at discouraging regulators from fining nursing homes accused of poorly treating their residents, even if such treatment results in a resident’s death. According to The New York Times, since 2013, approximately 40 percent of nursing homes have been cited at least once for violations, including bedsores, lack of protection from avoidable accidents, and neglect.