OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A federal appeals court has affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by a Florida man against doctors at Nebraska’s psychiatric hospital, where he was held for 20 years on a misdiagnosis.
John Maxwell Montin, 54, sued after being released from the Lincoln Regional Center in 2013, where he had been held since being found not guilty by reason of insanity of false imprisonment and a weapons count. Police had said Montin, who lived in Florida at the time, was delusional when he was arrested after he walked up to a rural house in 1993, declared it had belonged to his ancestors and he was taking it back.
Psychiatrists relied on that police report for the next 20 years in keeping Montin committed, even as he insisted he was not psychotic.
On Thursday, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal said Montin’s malpractice claim was based on state law and, therefore, improperly filed in federal court. The appeals court also said that the doctors he sued are entitled to qualified immunity because they worked for the state.
For years, Montin’s doctors said his denials that he was mentally ill was evidence that he was when they made annual reports to a judge, who ultimately decided that Montin was mentally ill and dangerous.
In 2012, an attorney for Montin persuaded a psychiatrist at the center to read a transcript of Montin’s trial, which differed from the police arrest report. A year later, another psychiatrist at the center concluded that medication Montin was taking for back pain had led to temporary psychosis and the incident. He said when Montin stopped taking the medicine - before his 1993 trial began - the psychosis was gone.
Montin’s attorney, Michael Gooch of Omaha, said Thursday he had not had a chance to confer with Montin on how or if to proceed on the case.
But Gooch didn’t hide his disappointment, saying that mistreatment of Montin by the Nebraska doctors was “longstanding and profound.”
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