Disabled Man is Killed, Estate Gets $11M Bill

ALBANY (AP) -

Two years after a 33-year-old mentally disabled man died at a state institution in Queens, and one year after his sister filed a lawsuit accusing the staff of killing him, New York officials have sent her an $11.67 million bill.

The claim against Rasheen Rose’s estate cited his total Medicaid assistance from Aug. 6, 2002, through Aug. 6, 2012, the day he died.

Ilann Maazel, an attorney who has filed lawsuits against the state after others died in state care, said other claim notices recently have been sent to families suing.

“This is something new we’re seeing … and it’s problematic,” he said Wednesday.

Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, an advocate for the disabled whose adult son gets state-funded residential care, called it “retaliation” and “an outrage” to send the bill to someone who lost a loved one from abusive care. “They’re going to punish these people because they brought it to view of justice,” he said.

The New York medical examiner concluded Rose’s death was a homicide and that he “became unresponsive” while being restrained at Fineson Developmental Center. Shaneice Luke, Rose’s sister, is seeking unspecified punitive and other damages in a federal lawsuit. She alleges that at least three staff threw Rose to the ground and one sat on him, while other staff stood by. She also alleges a history of abuse at Fineson and failure by supervisors and the state to address that or to train staff properly.

“Rasheen Rose did not receive care remotely associated with the amount of money collected [from Medicaid] for Rasheen Rose over the 10-year period,” attorney Aaron DePass replied to the state agency on Luke’s behalf. Because he was actually killed by his supposed caregivers, “it is clear that the quality of care he received does not warrant any payment for services whatsoever,” he wrote.

Two years ago, a congressional oversight committee reported that New York’s residential centers for the developmentally disabled like Fineson, which have largely emptied in an ongoing shift to community-based programs and group homes, cost Medicaid about $1.9 million a year for each patient.

The Cuomo administration last year announced plans to close four developmental centers over four years, including Fineson in 2017.