The Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services agreed to pay the family of a man who was abused at Whiting Forensic Hospital $9 million.
Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis approved the settlement, which stems from a 2018 lawsuit filed by the family of William H. Shehadi Jr. who is mentally ill was tortured for years by staff at the facility, some of whom were arrested for their actions.
Shehadi was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1995 for the death of his father and committed to the psychiatric hospital.
Ten employees of the Whiting Forensic Division of Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown were arrested after surveillance video showed them hitting, kicking and pushing Shehadi out of bed, according to court documents.
The settlement this week was previously approved by the state legislature.
“For the family it means accountability for the people who abused this poor man,” Antonio Povert, the attorney for Al Shehadi, William’s brother, said. “It means recognition not only of the harm it was done, but of the fault of the people who did it.”
Ponvert said he hopes it dissuades health workers in Connecticut and beyond from allowing this sort of thing to go on.
Ponvert, who was assisted in the case by Kirk Lowry of the Connecticut Legal Rights Project, said his clients often say the money will go toward a good cause. But in this case, Al Shehadi, after he pays for his brother’s medical expenses, plans to donate the money toward housing for others who are mentally ill.
“I’m actually relieved,” Ponvert said. “The system worked.”
Almost 40 Whiting employees were fired for their role in the abuse scandal.
Earlier this year the General Assembly passed legislation that changes how Whiting Forensic Hospital operates.
The state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services did not respond to requests for comment.