New York State will pay $5 million to settle two wrongful death lawsuits brought by Michael and Lisa Carey, whose son Jonathan died in 2007 while living in a State facility for the disabled. Jonathan, an autistic 13-year-old, was asphyxiated and killed by a State employee while on a community outing. Two State employees have been criminally convicted as a result of Jonathan’s death.
The case helped bring attention to the severe institutional dysfunction of New York State’s care for the disabled. For years, the institutions dedicated to caring for some of New York’s most vulnerable residents have exhibited systemic deficiencies in health and safety standards, abuse investigation and reporting, and employee qualification. The Careys, who have become some of New York’s most outspoken advocates for disability rights, hope that the case will prompt serious reform to fix a broken system. The Carey family is represented by ECBAWM’s Ilann M. Maazel and Zoe Salzman.