AP NEWS

Judge won’t dismiss state psych hospital abuse case

March 22, 2019

BRIDGEPORT — A Superior Court judge on Friday refused to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the brother of a Greenwich man who was allegedly abused for months while a patient at a state psychiatric hospital.

Albert Shehadi sued both the state and the federal government in March 2018, claiming the abuse violated the U.S. Constitution and the Connecticut Patients’ Bill of Rights. It seeks money damages and injunctive relief.

“Construing the allegations in the light most favorably to the plaintiff, the court must infer that the defendants’ conduct was indictive of highly unreasonable conduct, involving an extreme departure from ordinary care, in a situation where a high degree of danger, i.e., the plaintiff’s abuse, is apparent, Judge Barbara Bellis ruled in a nine-page decision.

Ten employees of the Whiting Forensic Division of Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown were arrested after surveillance video showed them hitting, kicking and pushing William Shehadi Jr. out of bed, according to court documents.

At one point, a male nurse is seen gyrating his groin on Shehadi’s face, and other workers are shown on the video dousing Shehadi with liquids, throwing food at him and forcing him to wear a diaper on his head.

“The relentless abuse inflicted by state employees on a helpless, mentally ill man day after day for weeks and weeks shows a level of cruelty that is sickening in the extreme,” said Shehadi’s lawyer, Antonio Ponvert III.

Shehadi, 58, was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1995 for the death of his father and committed to the psychiatric hospital.

The state lawsuit names the State of Connecticut, State Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), as well as the Commissioner of DMHAS and 11 Whiting administrators and supervisory level employees as defendants.