Connecticut to pay $9M to settle hospital patient abuse suit

Hartford Capitol building
Photo credit Daniela Doncel/WTIC

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut judge has approved a $9 million settlement between the state and the brother of a man who was abused numerous times at the state's maximum-security psychiatric hospital, lawyers in the case announced Thursday.

The abuse scandal involving patient William Shehadi at Whiting Forensic Hospital in 2017 led to the arrests of 10 employees, the firings of nearly three dozen workers and reforms at the state-run facility in Middletown, which treats patients including people found not guilty by reason of insanity.

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Antonio Ponvert III, a lawyer for Shehadi and his brother, Albert Shehadi, said the settlement amount in the state court case was the largest ever paid by the state to a single person. Several employees sued by Albert Shehadi in federal court also agreed to undisclosed settlements.

"Our goal in bringing these lawsuits was to hold abusers and State officials accountable for the torture of a profoundly vulnerable human being who depended upon them for treatment and care," Ponvert said in a statement.

Also as part of the state lawsuit, a former top official at Whiting settled for $100,000, according to court documents.

The state attorney general's office, which represented Whiting, released a statement saying, "This was a very difficult case, and the state and the parties can move forward now that it has been resolved."

Judge Barbara Bellis approved the settlement Tuesday, after it received legislative approval earlier this year.

William Shehadi was committed to the hospital in 1995 after being found not guilty by reason of insanity in the killing of his father in Greenwich.

Ponvert said cameras recorded more than 50 incidents of William Shehadi being abused, including a nurse gyrating his groin on Shehadi's face, and workers dousing him with liquids, throwing food at him and forcing him to wear a diaper on his head.