Lawsuit Filed After Group Home Workers Accused of “Terrorizing” Disabled Boy
Staff at a group home for developmentally disabled children were having trouble getting one boy to go to sleep. So staffers at the facility dressed up as “the bogeyman” to scare him into bed. Other staffers warned the boy that the bogeyman would “get him” if he didn’t comply. A video of the incident was taken and uploaded by one of the staffers on social media.
The lawsuit further alleges that staffers used “bizarre” and “traumatizing” methods to bring the boy to heel. This included tying his hands. Lawyers for the plaintiffs say that the boy was suffering from anxiety and night terrors at the time, and that’s why it was difficult to get him to sleep.
Five members of The Arc in Tampa Bay were suspended and then fired after the allegations became known. The Arc has refused to comment on the case. None of the employees faced criminal charges. It’s not clear, exactly, what they would have been charged with. The civil suit against the group home will allege that the facility intentionally inflicted emotional distress on one of their patients. It will further allege that negligent supervision and negligent hiring played a significant role in allowing this to happen.
It’s fairly clear that The Arc employees did exactly what the parents said they did since there is a video of them doing it. The Arc will want to quickly settle the lawsuit. The matter then becomes one of damages.
In a case like this, as horrific as it is to say, damages will be assessed in accord with the “amount” of psychological damage that a jury would believe the case would be worth if it went to trial, minus a percentage of the settlement for expediting the process. The problem for The Arc is that the plaintiffs may not be interested in settling the lawsuit at all. They may want to push the matter in front of a jury because the notion of five people in a position of power over a child and then using that power to abuse the child is horrible. In fact, the conduct of the employees was so egregious that it may qualify for punitive damages which are assessed in cases where the court sees fit to punish the defendant for their extremely reckless conduct.
That being said, actual damages may be difficult to determine. Psychological damage is very difficult to quantify, and while the boy undoubtedly required therapy to deal with the trauma of the event, it’s hard to say what impact the torture had on him. So specific damages may be difficult to quantify.
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