JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Department of Mental Health employees have been removed from a lawsuit over the death of a developmentally disabled man.
U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Harpool last week dismissed the department’s director Mark Stringer and other agency leaders from the lawsuit filed by the mother and sister-in-law of Carl DeBrodie, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The lawsuit alleged that state mental health agency’s employees, the Callaway County public administrator and the home’s employees didn’t properly oversee DeBrodie’s care.
In April 2017, police found DeBrodie’s body encased in concrete and hidden inside a Fulton storage unit. His body was found about a week after he was reported missing from Second Chance Homes, a nearby supported-living facility. Police believe his death went undetected for months.
DeBrodie’s mother, Carolyn Summers, believes that DeBrodie was left to die at a Second Chance employee’s residence, according to the federal lawsuit. She also believes that DeBrodie actually died near the end of October 2016.
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office had asked Harpool in June to dismiss the state from the wrongful death lawsuit because DeBrodie was in private care.
“Mr. DeBrodie was not in state custody. He resided in a private facility,” the attorney general’s office argued.
Harpool’s ruling last week sided with the attorney general’s office, but made it possible for the state to be brought back into the case should it later be revealed that state employees “undertook an affirmative action” that restrained DeBrodie’s freedom or endangered him.
The mental health department declined to comment on the litigation.
The state’s attorney Rudy Veit said the wrongful death case “has gotten their attention.”
“While we haven’t seen them take any direct action to ensure this won’t happen again, I know it’s on their radar,” he said.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com
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