Parents sue Sacramento County over disability care

Published: Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3B
Last Modified: Monday, Aug. 5, 2013 - 10:49 am

The adoptive parents of an emotionally disturbed 6-year-old boy have sued Sacramento County in U.S. District Court, alleging that the county stopped the boy from receiving the care he's guaranteed under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Robin and Larry Mammen have provided foster care to more than 20 children but encountered a number of difficulties trying to get needed care for Anthony Platz, who has a sensory processing disorder that causes him to have regular outbursts and behave recklessly.

The Mammens found some success with treatment that involved using a stretchy material to "wrap him up like a burrito." The Mammens and Anthony's therapist said the treatment was safe and helping him better regulate his emotions.

But the county maintained the procedure was life-threatening, and a state investigation – initiated by the county – came to the same conclusion. The Mammens feared that Anthony was going to be placed in an institution.

However, a separate investigation by the county's Disability Compliance Office concluded that state and county officials had been hasty and ill-informed in their review of the wrapping procedure. The procedure is safe, the office found.

The Mammens retained custody of Anthony. However, they said they filed the federal lawsuit to prevent county officials from treating other families the same way and as recourse for the distress they faced.

A spokeswoman for the county's Department of Health and Human Services said the county has not seen the lawsuit and could not comment. In January, the department's director did not comment specifically but defended its handling of the case as appropriate.

In the lawsuit filed on Anthony's behalf Thursday, the Mammens also named as defendants individual county employees, the state's Community Care Licensing Division and state employees.

The federal lawsuit also claims the county failed to provide proper care to Anthony until the Mammens took custody and then did not provide enough money for his care. The county provided $700 a month for his care, while an advocate for Disability Rights California said he should receive at least $3,000 a month, the lawsuit states.

Call The Bee's Brad Branan, (916) 321-1065. Follow him on Twitter @bradb_at_sacbee.

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