The city of San Francisco is suing the state of Nevada for $500,000 to reimburse public funds allegedly used to provide care for “dumped” out-of-state patients. According to a claim filed Tuesday in San Francisco Superior Court, the state-run Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas, Nev. has repeatedly bused mentally ill patients to the Bay Area without prospects for future rehabilitation, aftercare, food, or housing. Besides the reimbursement, the city also seeks an injunction that would bar Nevada from shipping patients to California without proper documentation in the future.
Dennis Herrera, the attorney who filed the claim on behalf of the city, told Reuters that he disclosed the prospective lawsuit to Nevada state officials last month. He said that, in the past five years, Rawson-Neal has dumped at least two dozen patients requiring medical care as well as shelter. When Nevada Chief Deputy Attorney General Linda Anderson agreed to assist the investigation but declined to pay the proposed reimbursement, Herrera proceeded with the claim.
"Homeless, psychiatric patients are especially vulnerable to the kind of practices Nevada engaged in, and the lawsuit I've filed today is about more than just compensation,” Herrera told reporters. “It's about accountability."
In a letter sent on Monday, Anderson told Herrera that the city had failed to show how the patients in question had been identified as patients dumped by Rawson-Neal. She wrote that the claim, filed as a class action on behalf of “affected California cities and counties,” did not supply an adequate explanation of its legal standing.
"Unless you identify the jurisdiction and authority of your government office to represent individuals, apart from the city of San Francisco, in a class action lawsuit and provide more information on your theory of recovery, my office is unable to evaluate your claim," she wrote, rejecting the lawsuit as tenuous and fragmented.
Rawson-Neal made similar headlines earlier this year, when The Sacramento Bee reported that the hospital had sent up to 1,500 homeless, indigent, and mentally ill patients out of state without proper plans for continued care. After being discharged prematurely, one patient was allegedly given a 3-day supply of medication and a Greyhound bus ticket to the Californian capital. After a federal probe, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval acknowledged that at least one patient had been improperly handled by the state-run facility.
"All individuals who violated release policies have been or will be disciplined,” he said in a statement. “These disciplinary actions include terminations effective today."