Family of Young Disabled Man Who Died in New York State Group Home Brings Federal Civil Rights Suit
- January 27, 2020
This morning, the family of C.B., a young man with cognitive disabilities who passed away in April 2018, filed a civil rights lawsuit against employees of a group home run by New York’s Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (“OPWDD”). C.B. was found dead in his room at the Valley Ridge Center for Intensive Treatment on the morning of April 9, 2018, after Ashley Sessions, a Valley Ridge employee, failed to check in on him during the night as required.
C.B. died from a pulmonary embolism and heart failure. The day before his death, C.B. and his mother told State employees he couldn’t breathe. The State ignored him. C.B.’s arms and legs were massively swollen with fluid; he gained 50 pounds in a single year; he exhibited the telltale signs of heart failure. But Staff not only did nothing to help him; they repeatedly encouraged him to drink more fluids, contributing to his death.
Even as Sessions failed to check on C.B. as required during the night of his death, C.B. asphyxiated on fluids in his lungs. Sessions then lied to the police to try to cover up her misconduct. She ultimately pled guilty to the crime of filing false statements.
C.B.’s mother, J.M., filed a federal lawsuit alleging that Valley Ridge employees were deliberately indifferent to C.B.’s health and welfare and that the little medical care they did provide was woefully deficient.
“C.B.’s tragic death should never have happened,” C.B.’s family’s attorney, Ilann M. Maazel, of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel, said. “State employees ignored the obvious signs that a disabled man’s health was rapidly deteriorating, then left him alone to die a horrible death in his bedroom. It’s unconscionable.”
“C.B.’s dire condition was plain to see,” added Samuel Shapiro, another attorney representing the family, “but the staff here just didn’t care enough to look.”
ECBAWM’s Ilann M. Maazel, Samuel Shapiro, and Ali Frick represent C.B.’s family.