Universal Health Services: Lawsuit against Alabama Clinical Schools Alleges Repeated Assaults of 11-Year-Old; Broken Collarbone

January 27, 2023

Attorneys for an 11-year-old boy are suing a Birmingham residential behavioral facility claiming the boy was repeatedly abused while in treatment and even bitten by scorpions in his bed.

The lawsuit was filed in Jefferson County Wednesday against Alabama Clinical Schools, ACS, Universal Health Services, the Alabama Clinical Schools’ director of residential services.

Attorneys Tommy James and Jeremy Knowles filed the suit on behalf of the boy, identified in court records only as M.C., and his grandmother.

The attorneys have filed previous lawsuits against other youth treatment facilities that they say are part of a “troubled teen industry,” a network of for-profit youth residential facilities where widespread abuse and neglect has been revealed.

UHS owns and operates Alabama Clinical Schools and Hill Crest in Birmingham, as well as many residential facilities for youth across the country, James said.

Efforts to reach ACS for comment were unsuccessful. UHS declined comment.

The Fortune 500 Company’s website says it treated 3.2 million people last year, earning more than $12 billion in revenues.

The Alabama Department of Human Resources certifies and licenses Alabama Clinical Schools, which is located on Alton Drive.

According to ACS’s website, the facility offers residential treatment and foster care programs for children ages nine to 18 who struggle with mental health issues, behavioral problems and sexually reactive behaviors.

M.C. was born in 2011 and suffered from behavioral issues. The Department of Human Resources placed the boy in ACS on Dec. 15, 2021, where he spent six months undergoing treatment.

“My client was treated terribly by the staff who were supposed to be helping him,” James said. “They put him through hell with continuous physical, verbal and emotional abuse and then threatened to kill him for reporting their abuse.”

The lawsuit alleges that M.C. received multiple injuries from assaults by employees.

“He was also threatened and verbally and mentally abused by staff,’’ James said.

The lawsuit says the child suffered from scorpion bites in his bed.

On Jan. 17, 2022, M.C. was assaulted by an ACS employee, the suit contends. He suffered injuries to his shoulder area including a broken collarbone.

The boy was treated at Children’s of Alabama and underwent physical therapy.

Just days later, on Jan. 23, 2022, M.C. was assaulted in the head, face and neck by an employee, the lawsuit states.

Then, on March 2, 2022, he was again assaulted by an employee who “kicked and stomped him in the stomach and face.”

M.C. was discharged from the facility on June 10, 2022. Prior to his discharge, the suit contends, the boy was assaulted by employees and other residents. He suffered a black eye and bruises.

The suit claims facility employees threatened to kill the child and retaliated against him for reporting the abuse to the Alabama Department of Human Resources.

James provided a letter from the Jefferson County Department of Human Resources that stated “the agency found sufficient evidence to prove that physical abuse occurred to said child. Case was closed as ‘indicated.’’

“DHR investigated my client’s reports of abuse by these employees, and they determined he was telling the truth and that he was horribly abused by staff,” James said. “It is past time to hold this troubled company (UHS) accountable, so it will take steps to prevent the ongoing child abuse occurring in their facilities.”

James said state officials are well aware of these facilities’ history of mistreating residents.

“The state is fully aware of the ongoing abuse in these facilities but still places children in them,” James said. “The governor and other state officials must take action to determine why this continues. These facilities must be shut down, or our elected officials must ensure they are safe.”

James, his client and his client’s grandmother hope the lawsuit leads to positive change.

“What happened to this child is inexcusable and should have never happened,” James said. “My client and his family hope holding the employees who abused him and the company that enabled the abuse accountable will prevent this from happening to innocent children.”

Attorneys for the victim are seeking help from those with information on the case. Please contact Tommy James at tommy@tommyjameslaw.com or 205-259-1725.

Source: Carol Robinson, “Abused child suffered scorpion bites, broken bones at Alabama residential treatment, lawsuit claims,” AL.com, Jan. 25, 2023, URL: https://www.al.com/news/2023/01/abused-child-suffered-scorpion-bites-broken-bones-in-alabama-residential-treatment-lawsuit-claims.html


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