Multi-million dollar settlement reached in O.D. Heck lawsuit

NISKAYUNA, N.Y. (NEWS10) – New York State will pay more than $2 million to settle a family’s lawsuit over the now closed O.D. Heck Developmental Center.

The family of a man known as K.C. claimed their 22 year old severely disabled relative was beaten and neglected at the Niskayuna facility before he died of pneumonia in March 2011.

Federal court documents named six staff members as those who allegedly verbally and physically abused the resident.

O.D. Heck had a history of abuse claims which were brought to light when 13-year-old Jonathan Carey was smothered by his caregiver in 2007.

“I miss him every day,” his father Michael Carey said.

Ever since his son’s death, Carey has pushed to end disability abuse. Jonathan’s Law was passed for his son which allows parents to access all child abuse investigation files. But Carey said K.C.’s case is proof that Jonathan’s Law isn’t enough.

“You could only imagine as a parent, a father of a child who was 13 and killed, and here eight years fighting night and day to fix it, and it goes on and on more than ever, and most of these cases you’ll never even hear of,” Carey said.

K.C.’s family settled for $2.25 million. Attorney Ilann Maazel of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP represented both the Carey family and K.C.’s family.

“This is where there has to be oversight,” he said. “There has to be outside accountability, and we have a long way to go there.”

But no arrests were made and no employees were held accountable in K.C.’s case. Carey said no lump sum can hide what goes on behind closed doors, and he’s determined to do that.

“I’ve been fighting for this stuff ever since Jonathan was killed,” he said. “I know it’s going on, and it’s going on a massive level across the state. It’s not just at O.D. Heck.”

O.D. Heck closed on March 31.

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