$3M Settlement Reached In Patient Death At Bridgewater Hospital

The parents of a mental health patient who died at Bridgewater State Hospital five years ago will receive $3 million to settle a civil rights lawsuit alleging that prison guards were responsible for the death, their lawyer said.

The $3 million for the parents of Joshua Messier, 23, will be paid by the state and the insurer for MHM Correctional Services, the Virginia-based company that provides medical and mental health care to inmates and patients at Bridgewater, their lawyer, Benjamin Novotny, told The Boston Globe.

Messier, who had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, died after guards secured him spread-eagled in four-point restraints on a small bed in 2009. In a scene captured on prison video, two guards pressed down on Messier's back while he was seated on the bed with his hands cuffed behind him, folding his chest to his knees. The action is forbidden by regulations because of the risk of suffocation.

Messier's parents were angered because nobody was punished in connection with their son's death. Gov. Deval Patrick last month placed three of the guards on paid administrative leave and formally reprimanded two top correction officials while asking for the resignation of a third.

"While nothing can bring back Joshua Messier to his family, we believe this will be a fair resolution to a sad case," said Attorney General Martha Coakley, who represented the Department of Corrections and eight of the nine guards in the case.

Kevin Messier, Joshua's father, said he was pleased.

"It is heartening to see the attorney general's office exhibit leadership coupled with compassion in recognizing this wrong and bringing some measure of accountability for these troubling actions," he said in a statement.

Bridgewater State provides mental health services to convicted criminals and mental health patients who have been charged with crimes.

This article was originally published on March 26, 2014.


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