Sen. Webber renews calls for MDHHS scrutiny after $100M lawsuit filed over alleged beating of child in state’s care

Sen. Webber renews calls for MDHHS scrutiny after $100M lawsuit filed over alleged beating of child in state’s care

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Michael Webber is renewing his call for legislative hearings to investigate ongoing concerns over patient care at the state’s only psychiatric hospital for minors operated under the direction of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“We are hearing these horrific stories far too regularly,” said Webber, R-Rochester Hills. “Parents rely on MDHHS and the only state-operated psychiatric hospital for minors to protect and care for their children during a serious time of need. It is devastating to see kids harmed on the state’s watch. Children deserve better, and their families deserve accountability.”

It was reported on Thursday that a mother has filed a $100 million lawsuit over the beating of her 10-year-old child while he was a resident at Walter P. Reuther Psychiatric Hospital. Her attorneys have said they have video evidence of five staff members encouraging a 15-year-old resident as she harmed the younger patient.

“The Legislature has a duty to ensure state resources are being spent to help children who need MDHHS services instead of on legal fees and court settlements. More importantly, parents should not have to worry about the basic well-being of their children while in the state’s care. I hope my fellow lawmakers will work with me in getting to the bottom of these tragedies and righting what is wrong inside this vital state agency,” Webber said.

Webber visited the Walter P. Reuther Psychiatric Hospital, where young patients are being temporarily housed during reconstruction of the Hawthorn Center, earlier this month — just days after a $13 million legal settlement was announced as part of the fallout from a questionably executed unannounced active shooter drill that took place in late 2022.

“I continue to have concerns over children being housed among adults and the ongoing transition into Reuther,” said Webber. “We owe it to these children and their families to address the real concerns they are experiencing and provide a safe and loving environment for patients.”

Webber first petitioned Senate committee chairs to open reviews into the Hawthorn Center in June, however, no hearings have taken place. In January, the Office of Auditor General announced it would investigate the Office of Recipients Rights (ORR) for how it handles allegations at state-run psychiatric hospitals as part of its 2024 audit cycle. The announcement stemmed from Webber’s formal request of the department in July after hearing patient and family testimonies during a Protect MI Kids listening session that he hosted with other lawmakers in his district in response to the unannounced active shooter drill and continued escapes from the Hawthorn Center.

Residents who would like to share their experiences or concerns over care received at state-run psychiatric hospitals may contact Disability Rights Michigan, the federally mandated protection and advocacy system for Michigan, toll-free at 1-800-288-5923 or visit




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