Settlement Reached in Missouri Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A settlement has been reached in a wrongful death lawsuit filed after a developmentally disabled Missouri man's body was found encased in concrete after he went missing from a supported living home.
Rudy Veit, an attorney for the mother and sister-in-law of Carl DeBrodie, said Thursday that details of the settlement are confidential but said it provides enough money to care for DeBrodie's mother, Carolyn Summers, and to allow her to make donations to organizations that helped DeBrodie during his lifetime.
DeBrodie's body was found in a storage unit in April 2017, about a week after he was reported missing from Second Chance Homes in Fulton. Investigators believe his disappearance was not reported for months.
The lawsuit alleged that the state mental health agency's employees, the Callaway County public administrator and the home's employees didn't provide proper care or properly oversee DeBrodie's care. A judge removed the state agencies and their employees from the lawsuit in late September.
Veit said the settlement was in the best interest of Summers "so she knows that she doesn't have to go into court and have it keep coming up."
Lawyers for the remaining defendants in the lawsuit either didn't return phone calls Thursday or declined to comment.
The settlement also should protect parents and guardians of developmentally disabled people because it has made public administrators, owners and employees of supported-living homes, and others involved in that care aware that they will face economic and criminal consequences if they don't live up to their obligations, Veit said.
"In this case, everybody said it was somebody else's duty (to provide care)," Veit said. "We make clear with this litigation, you have to do your job ... You don't do the minimum required by law, you don't just rubberstamp what someone tells you."
Summers believes DeBrodie was left to die at a Second Chance employee's home near the end of October 2016 but his disappearance wasn't reported until April, according to the lawsuit.
Also named in the lawsuit were Second Chance Homes, the Callaway County Public Administrator's Office, Callaway County Special Services and several individuals working for those agencies.
Employees of the agencies were legally required to meet with DeBrodie and file reports confirming that he was healthy and being properly cared for. The lawsuit contended those meetings weren't held for several months and that the employees filed fraudulent reports saying they had seen DeBrodie.
The lawsuit also says caseworkers and employees of Second Chance Homes prevented Summers and others from visiting DeBrodie in the months preceding his death.
Melissa Denise DeLap, a nurse from Columbia, pleaded guilty in August to health care fraud and admitted that she signed false reports saying she had met with DeBrodie during the months between his death and the discovery of his body.
The owners and operators of the Second Chance Home, Sherry Paulo and Anthony Flores, both of Fulton, were charged in June with involuntary manslaughter in DeBrodie's death. They were also charged with client neglect, felony abandonment of a corpse, and two misdemeanors of making a false report of a missing person. They have pleaded not guilty. Three others have been charged with making false reports.