Suit Against Addiction Treatment Center Awarded $77M by Jury

Just days after being prematurely released from an addiction treatment facility, Nick Carusillo passed unexpectedly after being struck by several automobiles on a Georgia highway. Now, his parents are hoping that a sizable jury judgement in their favour would bring about a change that aids others who are afflicted with mental illness and drug usage.

Carusillo passed away on September 22, 2017, and his parents sued the institution that released him and many individuals who were in charge of providing for his care there for wrongful death in 2019. A jury just outside Atlanta awarded them a total of about $77 million last week — $10 million for their son’s pain and suffering, $55 million for the value of his life, $1 million in punitive damages and the remainder for attorneys’ fees and expenses.

In a phone interview on Wednesday, Tina Carusillo said, “This verdict provides validation for us.

He wasn’t to blame. He was a victim of a corrupt system, she claimed. “I’m hoping that because of the size of this verdict, a lot of people—insurance companies, facilities, parents, loved ones, and people seeking treatment—will pay attention.”
In an email, Heather Saum Ware, a lawyer for the Metro Atlanta Recovery Residences, or MARR, facility that freed Carusillo, stated that they “plan to appeal and are not commenting further about the ongoing litigation.”

From the time he was a child growing up in North Carolina, Carusillo battled substance abuse. In his late teens, he started to exhibit symptoms of bipolar disease, and by the time he was 20, his father said that a diagnosis had been made. When he was admitted to MARR on August 29, 2017, he had been in and out of treatment centres and was 29 years old.

He was managing his bipolar disorder with a combination of lithium and Seroquel and was medically stable when he arrived there, his family’s lawyers said in a court filing. A week later, on Sept. 5, 2017, a physician at MARR removed him from lithium despite being cautioned to do so by Carusillo’s family and longtime therapist, according to the filing.

Two weeks later, on September 19, 2017, after staff claimed he possessed a smartphone, which was not permitted, Carusillo’s condition deteriorated and he was compelled to leave the facility.

According to the complaint, MARR released Carusillo to a sober living facility without informing the owner of his mental health problems. Carusillo was let go that day after leaving the sober living facility early the following morning in violation of the curfew. He was driven to an AA meeting by the owner of the sober living facility.

According to a statement from attorneys Natalie Woodward and Dax Lopez who are representing his family, it was unknown where he was until early on Sept. 22, 2017, when he was found naked on Interstate 85 outside of Atlanta and was struck by many vehicles. Alcohol and illicit substances were not present in his system.

Lawyers for MARR wrote in a court filing that a doctor discontinued Carusillo’s lithium treatment after he complained of side effects. Carusillo knowingly violated multiple rules at the facility and had been told that he would be discharged for any further violation, they wrote. He had a smartphone, which facility employees discovered the following morning. Carusillo consented to go to a sober living house during a phone call with facility officials, his parents, and the filing claims that he refused to go to a more intensive treatment centre.

Mike Carusillo expressed his hope that the passing of his son and the hefty jury verdict would contribute to legislation ensuring adequate personnel and regulations at treatment institutions. According to Tina Carusillo, the Carusillos have been open about talking about their son’s challenges in an effort to raise awareness of the options available and lessen the stigma associated with mental illness.

She characterised her son—who had a son of his own who was 5 when his father passed away—as a lovely, humorous, intelligent, and kind individual. He had been the high school football team’s kicker and was a gifted athlete.

Tina Carusillo remarked, “I have to say, he was probably the best hugger that I ever knew, and I really, really miss that.” “We miss him. He was a generous, kind soul.”

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