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Tuesday, Jan 21 2014 02:34 PM

'First Look': Attorney discusses group home death

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    Chain Cohn Stiles attorney Neil Gehlawat, left, talks with Californian President and CEO Richard Beene about the death of Joseph Adam Lynch at a group home. Gehlawat is representing Lynch's family in a lawsuit, which was discussed on "First Look with Scott Cox."

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For 15 to 20 minutes, Joseph Adam Lynch was placed on his stomach, with what appear to be two to three Mountain View Ranch Residential Care employees pinning him down, according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of Lynch's family.

Moments later, he was pronounced dead. Cause of death -- positional asphyxiation, and the death was ruled a homicide.

Tuesday on "First Look with Scott Cox," Neil Gehlawat of Bakersfield law firm Chain Cohn Stiles talked about the wrongful death lawsuit filed last month in Kern County Superior Court.

Gehlawat said 27-year-old Lynch suffered from Fragile X syndrome, a genetic condition that can include learning disabilities, cognitive impairment and social and behavioral problems.

"His aggressive behavior was unpredictable but the staff should have been trained to deal with it without it resulting in his death," Gehlawat said.

Richard Beene, president and CEO of The Californian, asked Gehlawat about expectations for the staff and their training, after Lynch had clearly thrown the first punch at one of the staff members.

Physical restraint should have been the last resort, Gehlawat said.

And because of Adams' size -- large build, 200 pounds -- they never should have restrained him facedown for an extended period of time, the attorney said.

"We clearly see in the video that nobody attempted to resuscitate him until two sheriff deputies arrived," Gehlawat said.

The lawsuit filed against Kern Regional Center and Mountain View Ranch Residental Care serves two purposes -- financial compensation for the family and creating change so that an incident like this never happens again, the attorney said.

"We want to force group homes to pay more attention on how they train their staff," Gehlawat said.

Officials from Kern Regional Center did not return calls and messages for comment Friday. A representative of the group home has declined to comment except to say his prayers are with the family.



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