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Florida Brain Injury Center Under Fire For Abuse, Neglect

Allegations of rampant abuse and neglect at a large and renowned Florida brain rehabilitation center have sparked outcry, leading to a range of criminal charges, civil actions and state and federal probes.

West Palm Beach nursing home neglect lawyers know that the facility doesn’t cater specifically to the elderly, they are charged with caring for vulnerable adults and, based on some 2,000 pages of court documents, state investigations, police records and autopsy reports, it appears the facility failed miserably.

The case that brought it all to light was a young man who suffered a brain injury. He was taken to the Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation and then made a desperate attempt to facilitate a rescue. First, he called his sister and told her that staffers had beat him mercilessly. But because there are so few facilities that can handle adults with brain injuries, removal from the center was slow-going. So while at an outing to a local mega-store, he reportedly suffered abuse requiring emergency surgery. Only after the surgery was he allowed to transfer.

Since then, 20 former and current patients and their families have come forward with similar tales of abuse at the 196-bed center, which is located just outside of Tampa.

This is no fly-by-night operation: Patients and their family members often paid upward of $1,900 a day to receive care and treatment there.

And yet, the Florida Department of Children and Families reports receiving more than 475 allegations of neglect or abuse at the facility just in the last seven years. Of those, at least 36 were verified by investigators. Those cases were then referred to law enforcement, but the department didn’t keep track of what happened to them from there.

One case that law enforcement is pressing forward with is the abuse of a young autistic man, reportedly captured on video. In the footage, two workers are seen pummeling the smaller patient at least 30 times. When the patient is heard moaning and crying from the abuse, one of the staffers tell him to shut up because he was making it difficult for him to watch television. Those two staffers have been charged criminally.

Another case involves a second autistic man who is thrown by his seat by an employee who then proceeded to kick him. That incident too was captured on video, and he too has been criminally charged.

Another incident resulted in the death of a brain-injured Marine who was reportedly suffocated by employees who pinned him down until he was unable to breathe. His family was awarded a $5 million verdict from a jury back in 2005.

Since then, two more deaths resulted in negligence lawsuits that ultimately ended in confidential settlements. In one of those instances, an employee plead guilty to battery for punching a patient unconscious after he scratched him while the employee was attempting to restrain him.

Another man’s daughter alleged that her father died after an employee gave him food that he was not able to eat. He choked to death, according to his autopsy.

Other states and districts, including the District of Columbia, has pulled out a large number of patients from the facility after investigations found that the facility was improperly confining patients in their rooms or using drugs as a means of restraint.

And yet, the facility remains open.

Given that a number of these allegations have been verified in court, that is truly the most disturbing fact of all.

Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
Abuse of Brain Injured Americans Scandalizes U.S., By David Armstrong, Bloomberg

More Blog Entries:
Chronicles of Florida Nursing Home Neglect Earn Journalists Top Award, July 15, 2012, West Palm Beach Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Blog

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