Las Vegas Sun

November 21, 2014

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Cost up to $1.1 million to defend lawsuit over alleged patient dumping

CARSON CITY — It is costing the state $1.1 million to defend a lawsuit alleging mentally ill patients from a Las Vegas psychiatric hospital were “dumped” in San Francisco and other California cities.

The state Board of Examiners on Tuesday approved an increase in a contract from $388,000 to $1.1 million for a San Francisco law firm to represent Nevada in the lawsuit.

The original contract with the Bingham McCutchen law firm was for $40,000, but costs have been increasing.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed a class-action lawsuit against the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital and Nevada mental health officials seeking reimbursement for the care of indigent patients bused to California without adequate treatment programs to continue their rehabilitation.

Herrera said the practice “cruelly victimizes a defenseless population and punishes jurisdictions for providing health and human services that others won’t provide.”

The hospital, which recently passed inspections by the federal government, has changed the practice.

The Nevada Attorney General’s Office said it would be impractical and uneconomical to have staff lawyers defend the suit.

Bingham McCutchen is based in San Francisco but also has a Nevada business license, according to documents provided by the board.

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