BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
A lawsuit filed against a Bakersfield residential care facility Wednesday alleges that employees in July unlawfully restrained and killed a developmentally disabled man who'd been living at the facility.
The lawsuit filed by Matthew C. Clark of Chain, Cohn, Stiles on behalf of the family of Joseph Adam Lynch says employees of Mountain View Ranch Residential Care held Lynch face down on the ground for 15 minutes on July 9. Lynch, 26, stopped moving after three minutes, according to the lawsuit, but the three employees never provided medical care to him or checked if he had a pulse or was breathing.
The coroner's office determined Lynch suffocated and his death was a homicide.
Lynch's family is suing the residential care facility and Kern Regional Center. The facility contracts with Kern Regional Center to provide a home for developmentally disabled adults.
Lynch was diagnosed with Fragile X, a genetic condition causing developmental problems that include learning disabilities and cognitive impairment. Clark said the condition caused the 5-foot-4-inch, 200-pound Lynch to occasionally act aggressively, and employees at the facility should have been trained on how to deal with his unique needs, including training in how to modify his behavior or properly restrain him.
Deputies have said they were dispatched to Mountain View for a report of vandalism. They said Lynch had been in an argument and punched a staff member in the face before being restrained.
Deputies found Lynch unresponsive when they arrived, and they began CPR. He was pronounced dead later that day at Kern Medical Center.
Loida Lynch, Joseph Lynch's mother, attended the press conference held at Chain, Cohn, Stiles Wednesday afternoon to announce the suit. She did not comment, and Clark read a statement on behalf of the family.
"We are saddened and disturbed over the death of our beloved Adam," the statement said.
In the statement, the Lynches wrote that Joseph was a caring, kind person who loved sports. He was a big fan of both San Francisco Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The family wrote that it hopes the lawsuit will help prevent similar future incidents and ensure that residential care facilities are staffed with properly trained employees. In addition to his mother, Lynch is survived by a brother and a sister.
Calls left with Kern Regional Center and Mountain View were not returned.
Clark said he expects the case to go to trial in 12 to 15 months. The family is asking for compensatory damages, including wrongful death damages, punitive damages, and funeral and burial expenses.
Lynch had lived at the facility between three to four years. The facility is located at 3046 Hinsley St., east of Weedpatch Highway and north of Muller Road.