Parents awarded $2.33 Million for Sonís Death

Parents awarded $2.33 Million for Sonís Death

A large settlement has been issued in Connecticut to the parents of Whiting Forensic Institute patient James Bell, for the utter neglect of hospital staff to help Bell as he died at the feet of 24 facility employees.

Thirty-nine year old James Bell was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and tended to have periodic aggressive outbursts towards Whiting staff members. Facility staff members ruthlessly restrained the 350 lb man on April 3, 2002, which ultimately led to his death.

Reports stated that Bell was cuffed at his wrists and ankles and rolled in a blanket to a seclusion room where staff members failed to react to signs that Bell was suffering. A nurse who was present at the time remarked that the patient had severely dilated pupils, a fading pulse and blood in his mouth when staff members decided to administer the potent sedative Thorazine. Bell then suffered a heart attack and died.

Prosecuting attorney Antonio Ponvert commented on the occurrence, “Twenty-four staff members, including his treating physician and treating psychiatrist, stood around and watched James Bell die. Not one of them took any steps to save his life.”

Mattie and Broadus Bell Sr., the parents of James Bell have received a $1.25 million cash settlement from the state on behalf of the Whiting Forensic Institue, now being probed by the U.S. Justice Department to determine patient treatment standards and suitability for operation.

The couple also received a waiver of the mandatory reimbursement charges for state public assistance that are required when you receive a legal cash settlement.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Addiction Services of Connecticut has commented that Whiting has undergone substantial changes to staff training, and emergency protocol. He did not however comment on the employment status of those involved in Bell’s death.

Ponvert admits that Bell was a significant threat to staff members, who should be afforded proper protection with patients of such a nature, however, the attorney commented, “What happened here was, they just didn’t see him as a human being or a patient anymore. They saw him as a person who was a risk and a pain for staff. And when the situation became a medical emergency, they did nothing. They watched him die. This was egregious negligence.”

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