A Gage County District judge hopes to have a ruling this summer in an $800,000 lawsuit filed against the Beatrice State Developmental Center by the mother of one of its patients.
In the lawsuit, Sandra Ham of Lincoln alleges neglect by the center nearly killed her adult son, Ian, in 2008. The lawsuit claims that Ian Ham suffered a permanent medical condition, because staff at the center failed to properly monitor and treat his diabetes and eating disorder.
Attorney Bruce Mason argued the case in Gage County District Court before Judge Paul Korslund, stating that $800,000 plus special damages would be appropriate compensation in the case.
Mason blamed wide-spread negligence at the center for a botched medical procedure in which Ian Ham came close to death.
“Like a series of dominoes these failures, upon on each other, set off a chain of events that forever altered Ian’s life for that period of time,” Mason stated.
Mason argued that resident of BSDC suffered from repeated and systematic failures by an institution run by the State of Nebraska, incompetently managed during a period of “chaos and confusion”.
The lawsuit arises from a troubled time at the Beatrice State Development Center. Charges of abuse and neglect led to a United States Department of Justice investigation in 2008. BSDC lost federal accreditation in 2009, disqualifying it from receiving payments from Medicaid. It has since received federal recertification.
Assistant Attorney General Michael Rumbaugh cautioned against using hindsight to judge the case, stating too much blame for Ian Ham’s case has been placed on the well-known problems at the center in 2008.
“There’s also an invitation in these cases to paint with a broad brush in many instances and that’s especially true here,” Rumbaugh told the judge.
Ham, along with about 50 other residents of BSDC, was moved out of the center in 2009 after an 18-year-old patient died there.
The lawsuit alleges that Ham has suffered a permanent medical condition as a result of failure to properly monitor and treat his diabetes and eating disorder.
Gage County District Judge Paul Korslund gave Mason through May 6th to file a post-trial brief. Rumbaugh will have through May 29th to file a similar brief, and Mason through June 10th, to submit a reply. The judge will then make a ruling.
Doug Kennedy, KWBE, contributed to this report.