62°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Former patients file federal lawsuit over ‘patient dumping’ by Rawson-Neal

Riding a Greyhound bus on a two-day trip from Las Vegas to Flint, Michigan, Clorissa Porter didn’t have any food with her.

Her bus ticket was courtesy of officials at the state-run Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas, who covered their patient’s fare after she did a two-day stay at the hospital. Strangers and fellow passengers shared meals with her before she arrived in Michigan with no one there to turn to for help.

The account is contained within the allegations in a federal lawsuit two former patients of the state-run hospital have filed over its practice of “patient dumping” — a practice that gained notoriety in 2013. The lawsuit, filed late Tuesday, seeks class-action status, so any ruling would apply to more than 1,500 former patients of the hospital.

The case’s allegations offer another window into patient dumping, a practice at Rawson-Neal in which officials put mental health patients on Greyhound buses and sent them out of the state on a one-way ticket without a treatment plan or adequate resources. An investigation by the Sacramento Bee first exposed patient dumping, prompting a state probe in 2013, the firings of two Rawson-Neal employees and an overhaul of discharge policies.

“There have been some changes, but we want to make sure that this cannot happen again,” said civil rights attorney Allen Lichtenstein, who is representing the plaintiffs.

The former patients in the lawsuit are Porter, 33, and William Spencer, 51, who were sent against their wishes to Michigan and California, respectively, according to the lawsuit.

Porter was admitted into Rawson-Neal on Jan. 7, 2013, suffering from depression and with a history of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Two days later, she was escorted from the hospital and put on a Greyhound bus to Flint with a four-day supply of medication, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit alleges the defendants had planned for her to get treated at a program in Caro, Michigan, but hadn’t made any arrangements for her to get there from Flint, which is more than an hour’s drive away. Porter arrived in Flint with no money or way to get to the hospital and realized Rawson-Neal officials made no arrangements for her to receive medical care or obtain shelter or other help, the lawsuit contends.

A cousin in Las Vegas wired Porter money for food, and she suffered a mental breakdown and ended up in a hospital that was unable to obtain her records from Rawson-Neal.

Spencer was admitted into Rawson-Neal severely depressed on Aug. 26, 2012. Within weeks, a doctor at the hospital told Spencer he had a one-way Greyhound ticket to Los Angeles and told him he should “call 9-1-1” for help when he was dropped off, the lawsuit alleges. Spencer, who had previously lived in Glendale, told the doctor he didn’t want to leave Las Vegas and return to California, the lawsuit alleges.

The doctor persisted, and on Sept. 20, 2012, Spencer was handed a bus ticket and three days’ worth of depression medication. Between 10 p.m. and midnight that day, he was escorted to a waiting taxi that took him to the bus station. The doctor at Rawson-Neal had told him he would be discharged to a residential aftercare facility in Pasadena, but no arrangements had been made, the lawsuit alleges.

After calling the Pasadena facility, Spencer learned they had not been contacted by Rawson-Neal and had no space, the lawsuit alleges. He quickly became homeless and suffered from panic attacks and anxiety, the lawsuit alleges. Relatives eventually helped him.

The lawsuit names a slew of defendants: Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services, which operates Rawson-Neal; Chelsea Szklany, hospital administrator; Mike Willden, a former director of Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, who is now chief of staff for Gov. Brian Sandoval; and Richard Whitley, administrator of Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health. Other defendants are Rawson-Neal associate medical director Loen Ravin; Kyle Devine, bureau chief of the Nevada Bureau of Health Care Quality and Compliance; Linda White, a statewide psychiatric medical director for Nevada; and psychiatrists Rao Puvvada and Jacob Manjooran.

A spokeswoman for Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services declined to comment, saying they haven’t been served with the lawsuit.

The governor’s office also declined to comment, as did the office of Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt.

The lawsuit seeks an order that would prevent patient dumping in the future, a judgment that the practice violates the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights and punitive damages. The lawsuit also seeks a jury trial.

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710. Follow @BenBotkin1 on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Crime Videos
CCSD police on the arrest of Deamonte Warren - VIDEO
CCSD police arrested Chaparral High School custodian Deamonte Warren on Friday on three counts of a school employee having sex with a student and an additional count of providing alcohol to a minor. (Courtesy CCSD Police)
Woman charged with sex trafficking an 11-year-old girl on the Strip (Michael Quine)
Gigi Mitchell faces seven felony charges including sex trafficking and child abuse for bringing an 11-year-old girl to the Las Vegas Strip to work as a prostitute.
Bel Air Drive Officer Involved Shooting Presser - Video
LVMPD Assistant Sheriff Tim Kelly goes over the officer-involved shooting on Bel Air Drive.
Former Las Vegas police officer get 25 life sentences for sexually abusing child
Former Las Vegas Police officer Bret Theil was sentences to 25 consecutive life sentences at the Regional Justice Center Wednesday, May 15, 2019, for sexually abusing a child over a decade. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Man pushed off bus in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Las Vegas police arrested 25-year-old Cadesha Bishop on May 6, after she allegedly pushed Serge Fournier, 74, off of a parked bus near Fremont Street and 13th Street about 4:50 p.m. March 21.(Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
$1 million bail set for mother charged with drowning 2-year-old daughter
The 44-year-old mother who police say drowned her 2-year-old daughter in a bathtub in a northeast Las Vegas apartment on Saturday made her first court appearance on Tuesday, May 14th.
Officer arrested on suspicion of lewdness with a child appears in court
Matthew James Terry, a Las Vegas police officer arrested on suspicion of lewdness with a child, appears in court Monday morning, May 13, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police seek hit-and-run driver
A motorcycle officer pulled over a Mercedes SUV, and after the officer came to a stop, it shifted into reverse, intentionally hitting the officer.
Thedrick Andres becomes Henderson Police Department acting chief
Henderson Police Department Acting Chief Thedrick Andres speaks about his goals in his new position at the Henderson Police headquarters, Monday, April 29, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
2 dead, 1 wounded after east valley neighborhood shooting
One man and one woman are dead and another man wounded after a shooting Thursday afternoon in an east valley neighborhood.
Bail denied for former police detective charged with murder
Bail was denied Tuesday for former Metropolitan Police Department detective, Pamela Rene Bordeaux who is accused of fatally shooting her daughter’s ex-husband during supervised visitation with his child.
Third suspect in death of California doctor appears in court
The third and final suspect in the killing of a California doctor, Jon Kennison, 27, appears in court Friday, April 19, 2019. Kennison, Kelsey Nichole Turner, a former model, and Diana Pena, face charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Richard Cleaves of Pahrump arrested in burglary on former Binion property
Updated press release regarding burglary on a former Binion property: Richard Cleaves, 56 of Pahrump, has been arrested on a warrant for burglary, conspiracy to commit grand larceny, and destruction of property. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Judge denies bail for suspect charged in the killing of California doctor
Diana Pena, one of three people charged in the killing of a California doctor, is being held without bail after her fingerprints were found on the car where Dr. Thomas Burchard's body was discovered.
Ex-NFL player and girlfriend held without bail in child’s death
Former professional football player Cierre Wood and his girlfriend, Amy Taylor, face charges of murder and child abuse in the death of Taylor's 5-year-old daughter. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NHP identifies man who was shot by trooper on Mount Charleston
Nevada Highway Patrol updates the media on the April 2, 2019 officer involved shooting on Mount Charleston. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas court grants '90 Day Fiancé' defendant continuance
"90 Day Fiance" stars Colt Johnson and his mother Debra left the Las Vegas Justice Center Thursday, after the court granted Larissa dos Santos Lima a continuance in her misdemeanor case, in which she is accused of domestic violence against Colt. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Details released on in-custody death
Assistant Sheriff Charles Hank addresses media about details of an in-custody death at Clark County Detention Center on March 31. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Man hurt in shooting with Nevada troopers at Mount Charleston
A man was injured in a shooting involving Nevada Highway Patrol troopers Tuesday afternoon at Mount Charleston on state Route 157 near Echo Trail. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Officer wounds inmate during escape attempt
An officer fired on an inmate who stole a vehicle and tried to flee, ramming several cars and leading officers on a chase until he ran out of gas.
Man fatally shot during a 'beer skip'
A store clerk is being questioned after a man was fatally shot during a robbery at a gas station Friday. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Las Vegas police give details on fatal shooting
Metro homicide Lt. Ray Spencer gives a briefing on a fatal shooting near downtown Las Vegas that occurred on March 27, 2019. (Katelyn Newberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas community pays tribute to boy killed by car
The community joined friends and family at Wilbur & Theresa Faiss Park, Wednesday evening, to remember the boy who was struck and killed by a car crossing South Fort Apache Road from Faiss Park, near West Maule Avenue, on Monday. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Person of Interest Found For Downtown Las Vegas Bar - Video
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is seeking help to find a person of interest in a potential homicide case at a bar in downtown Las Vegas.
Metro briefs media on OIS near downtown Las Vegas
Police address media about officer-involved shooting that started on Maryland and Vegas Valley, and concluded downtown, near the Golden Nugget.
Update on OIS at Vegas Valley and Maryland
The incident began at the Steinberg Diagnostic Medical parking lot and ended downtown.
Amy And Spencer Powell Recount Hit And Run
Amy Powell and her son Spencer recount the day Spencer was hit by a truck while riding his bike. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jeremy Burch of Tonopah arrested in Amarillo, TX
Jeremy Burch of Tonopah was arrested in Amarillo, TX on a Nye County warrant for open murder, burglary, obtaining money under false pretense, use of credit card w/o owner consent, and destruction of evidence. (Nye County Sheriff's Office/Facebook)
Metro Presser For OIS 6 (Full)
Metro police address the officer involved shooting that took place on March 19, 2019.
Metro Presser For OIS 6
Metro police address the officer involved shooting that took place on March 19, 2019.
Domestic disturbance call ends in suicide
A man died by suicide after police tried negotiating with him outside of his ex-girlfriend’s home on March 13. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
20-year-old armed robbery suspect shot by Las Vegas police
A 20-year-old armed robbery suspect shot by a Las Vegas officer on Saturday night is also accused of burglarizing a Boys & Girls Club minutes before the shooting.
Commercial Robbery On 3000 Block Of North Las Vegas Blvd - VIDEO
On February 19th, 2019, at approximately 10:23 am, a robbery occurred to a business located on the 3000 block of North Las Vegas Boulevard. The pictured suspect entered the business, approached the counter and pointed a firearm at the victim demanding money. The victim complied and the suspect fled with an undisclosed amount of money. No injuries were reported.
DEA Launches New Program To Combat Opioid Epidemic
The Drug Enforcement Administration is launching a new effort in Nevada to combat the opioid epidemic.
THE LATEST