Rasheen Rose was a severely autistic man who, in his short life, never developed the ability to speak. Sadly, his 33-year-life was much shorter than it ever should have been, because, in 2012, workers at the Queens, New York, mental health center where he lived for 10 years — killed him.
The New York State Medical Examiner ruled that the death of Rasheen Rose was a homicide. On August 6, 2012, workers at the Fineson Developmental Center in Queens tried to restrain Rasheen, who weighed 175 pounds and stood 5’7″. But a 275-pound worker sat on his chest until he became “unresponsive” and died, according to an investigation by lawyers for Rose’s family.
While the center continues to deny that anyone there did anything wrong, Rasheen Rose’s sister, Shaniece Luke, 39, of Harlem, filed a wrongful death lawsuit last year.
And then, this year, the state sent Luke a bill for her brother’s “care.” The total on the bill: $11,672,701.66. Yes, the state’s Office For People With Developmental Disabilities even tacked on the 66 cents.
“I thought it was ridiculous. I couldn’t believe it!” Luke told The New York Daily News.
The nearly $12 million sum supposedly covers all of the services rendered to Rasheen Rose through Medicaid from August 6, 2002 until the day in 2012 he was “crushed to death,” as Luke’s attorney says.
“The number is mind-boggling,” said Luke’s lawyer, Aaron Depass. “And it becomes more egregious because Rasheen died at the hand of one of their workers.”
“Rasheen Rose did not receive care remotely associated with the amount of money collected by OPWDD for Rasheen Rose over the 10-year period,” DePass wrote in his reply to the bizarre and whopping bill. “It is clear that the quality of care he received does not warrant any payment for services whatsoever,” DePass wrote, citing the fact that Rasheen Rose’s “care” resulted in his becoming a homicide victim.
Luke’s lawsuit also alleges that workers at the facility engaged in a long-term pattern of abuse, with her brother’s death only the final offense.
Why the state is demanding to be reimbursed for Medicaid — a government-run health care program that is supposed to be free to those who qualify — has not been explained, and the state won’t comment, citing the litigation. But Luke has her own theory.
The state is taking its revenge for the lawsuit she has filed.
“It has to be,” Luke told the Daily News. “But they were the ones who killed my brother.”
State Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg has also called the massive bill “retaliation” and labeled it “an outrage.” And according to Ilann Maazel, a lawyer who has filed separate lawsuits on behalf of other patients who died in state facilities, this isn’t the first time New York State has sent a bill to a family who just happened to be suing.
“This is something new we’re seeing… and it’s problematic,” Maazel said.
Luke’s lawsuit names seven workers whom it alleges were responsible for the death of Rasheen Rose, three who threw him down and others who stood by and watched.