A MAN who spent nearly 20 years locked in a state psychiatric ward is suing doctors for malpractice, saying he was never mentally ill during his time there.
John Maxwell Montin, 52, filed the lawsuit in federal court last week, naming 21 former or current staff members from the Lincoln Regional Center in Nebraska.
Mr Montin is seeking $23.4 million in damages after he was incorrectly labelled mentally ill, unnecessarily held in the psychiatric facility, and given treatments he didn’t need. The amount includes $808,000 in lost wages and $10.6 million in punitive damages.
Mr Montin was released nearly a year ago after a doctor employed at the centre acknowledged he had been misdiagnosed from the beginning.
The initial diagnosis of delusional disorder had been based on Protected content reports in which he was accused of walking up to rural house, declaring it had belonged to his ancestors and that he was taking it back.
But at his trial, witnesses refuted much of what Mr Montin was accused of doing.
A jury found him not responsible by reason of insanity of two charges: false imprisonment and use of a weapon. He was acquitted of more serious charges of attempted murder and another weapons charge.
He was sent to the Lincoln Regional Center that year. For the next 20 years, institution doctors and others involved in Mr Montin’s treatment relied on information from initial police reports that said he was delusional, rather than court records that showed otherwise.
But last year, a psychiatrist working at the institution found that Mr Montin’s initial psychosis had in fact been induced by medication he had been taking for a back injury.
When Montin stopped taking the medication — which was long before he was committed to the Lincoln institution — the psychosis was gone. Yet when he insisted he was not delusional, doctors simply didn’t believe him. For 20 years.
Doctors simply refused to believe Mr Montin’s claims that he was no longer delusional.
“It was an injustice, and he was right from the beginning,” Mr Montin’s lawyer Jon Braaten said.
Since his release, Mr Montin had returned to Florida, where he had a business cleaning the bottom of boats, Mr Braaten said.
The lawsuit says Mr Montin missed the opportunity to marry and have a family, as well as his mother’s funeral, because of the Lincoln Regional Center’s malpractice.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services which runs the centre declined to comment.