Mentally disabled patient files suit, saying he was restrained, not treated


November 07, 2001|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

A mentally disabled patient at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup who was repeatedly placed in restraints - once for more than 300 hours straight - is suing state mental health officials and caregivers, alleging that they failed to treat the underlying causes of his disorder and instead resorted to illegally confining him for long periods of time.

Robert Brandt, 31, who has been at Perkins since he was accused of setting his roommate's bed on fire - while the roommate was in it - at Spring Grove Hospital Center seven years ago, names 41 defendants, including the state of Maryland, the hospital, staff members as well as the current and former secretaries of the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in his lawsuit. The complaint was filed last week in Howard County Circuit Court.

The lawsuit claims civil rights violations, cruel and unusual punishment, negligence, emotional distress and false imprisonment and asks for $20 million in damages, costs and attorneys' fees.

"He's got an organic brain problem," said his lawyer, Karl J. Protil of Rockville, who said Brandt's actions were not "intentional."

"You don't make them any better by essentially punishing them or restraining them," Protil said. "In my mind, that's a return to 100 years ago."

Sun staff writer Joan Jacobson contributed to this article.

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