Another class action lawsuit filed against DHS over ‘48-hour law’ violations

For the second time in a month, the Minnesota Department of Human Services is facing a class action lawsuit involving dozens of people stuck in jails instead of receiving mental health treatment in a state hospital.

The agency is accused of violating state law and the rights of mental health patients.

Anthony Swope, one of two named plaintiffs in the latest lawsuit filed this week, spent 57 days in the Scott County Jail after a judge committed him to treatment for a mental illness.

Under state law, Swope should have been transferred to a state hospital within 48 hours.

But DHS is accused of violating the state’s “48-hour rule” in dozens of cases throughout Minnesota.

Anthony Swope is suing DHS for violating a state law that required he be transferred from jail to a state hospital within 48 hours.

Class Action

Lawyers cited 5 INVESTIGATES reporting on the “commitment crisis” in their arguments for class action status.

They argue in the complaint the number of patients waiting for beds “will inevitably continue to grow because (DHS) has made no meaningful efforts to increase the number of beds available at treatment programs.” 

DHS confirmed there were still 61 people on the agency’s “priority admissions” waiting list as of Friday.

“As much as we’d like to do so, we don’t have the capacity to admit all patients immediately,” DHS said in a statement to 5 INVESTIGATES. “We respect the law and are doing our level best to admit patients as quickly as possible. But our facilities are full and we can’t safely admit or effectively treat new patients until clinically appropriate beds open up.”

Another class action complaint filed in Hennepin County last month accused DHS of violating the constitutional rights of those held in jail more than 48 hours after they were committed to mental health treatment. 

That case has since been moved to federal court where attorneys for DHS have filed a motion to dismiss.