SALINAS — A year-old Salinas man suffering from severe mental and physical conditions was allegedly abused by caregivers on repeated occasions, abuse that resulted in at least two hospitalizations, according to a lawsuit filed in Monterey County Superior Court.
The alleged victim, Tyler Berry, suffers from autism, bipolar disorder and a of underlying physical conditions, including a life-threatening endocrine disorder. He is also legally blind.
As a result, he is unable to care for his own basic needs and requires hour care. Four employees of Spread Your Wings are also named in the suit. These workers are alleged to have committed abuses that include denying him important medications, failing to report incidents of high-speed racing with Tyler Berry in the car and in one case a caregiver physically attacking him.
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It specializes in providing supported living services to adults with developmental disabilities. The firm was served with the lawsuit through the mail on May 7, Spini said. On March 23, staff members allegedly gave Berry marijuana which, because of his underlying medical conditions, caused a precipitous drop in his blood pressure and which resulted in him being taken to a hospital emergency room, according to the suit. At the end of each shift, staff members were to provide case notes for the caregivers beginning their shifts.
The notes identify any concerns or other information important for the incoming staff member to know about such as the type of care provided and any behavioral issues.
But on that date, only one shift note was logged and it failed to include any reference to the emergency room trip, court documents allege. Spini said he acquired facts in the case from incident reports, case notes and a California Highway Patrol report of a rollover crash that injured Berry and required another trip to the hospital.
One participating staff member had allegedly been suspended for misconduct and was not to have any contact with Berry, Spini said. Berry had to be cut out of the car and sustained a concussion, bi-lateral contusions to his lungs, a bruise to his chest wall and a broken rib, according to his mother, Brandy Berry. The abuse escalated to include an incident where one of the caregivers apparently passed out while intoxicated, Spini said.
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When Berry tried to wake her up, she physically assaulted him. When asked if any of these incidents rose to the level of criminal abuse, Spini said he believed the case was referred to Monterey County Adult Protective Services. In accordance with state law, the agency is unable to comment on ongoing investigations. Lauren Suwansupa, the public information officer for the Monterey County Department of Social Services, said that if any investigation by Adult Protective Services or Child Protective Services crosses a line into criminal behavior, the agency will call in the appropriate legal jurisdiction for support.
All the staff members involved in the rollover crash have been terminated by Spread Your Wings, which is no longer providing care for Berry. By Dennis L. Taylor dtaylor montereyherald.
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