San Francisco is threatening to file a class action lawsuit against the State of Nevada for allegedly busing hundreds of poor, mentally-ill patients to California without first making plans for their care.
In a letter to the Nevada Attorney General's office, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera says he has the names of nearly 500 mental health patients released from a state-run psychiatric hospital in Nevada and sent to various California cities. Herrera's office says the names were obtained from subpoenaed bus tickets.
"Our investigation has discovered information indicating that a number of these patients were not residents of the destination cities and counties in California to which they were bused, and did not have family members there who were willing or able to care for them," Herrera wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.
Included among them, Herrera says, are nearly two dozen indigent patients given one-way Greyhound bus tickets to San Francisco where they required nearly a half million dollars in medical care and other aid upon their arrival.
"We have received the letter and we are working with our clients on this matter," Jennifer Lopez, spokeswoman for the Nevada Attorney General's office told KPCC. " We cannot comment further on pending litigation."
The alleged scandal was uncovered by the Sacramento Bee newspaper last April, which reported that the state-run Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas improperly discharged and sent to cities nationwide about 1,500 patients between July 2008 and early March 2013.
The headlines prompted the Los Angeles City Attorney's office to launch an ongoing investigation into the allegations that Nevada sent about 149 of those patients to Los Angeles. So far, however, no patients have been located, says Kathleen Piche, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.
"We did some outreach and we tried to find out if there were in fact some people that had been bused from Nevada... but we don’t have anyone who has been identified," Piche said, adding that there is no way to track such individuals unless they come forward. Nevertheless, she says, the agency is continuing its search.
Herrera, meanwhile, is demanding Nevada reimburse California communities for the costs incurred by next month, or face a class action lawsuit on behalf of the state’s local governments.