Watchdogs Children’s Rights, National Center for Youth Law (NCYL), Saint Louis University School of Law Legal Clinics, and the international firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius have filed this landmark, civil rights lawsuit against Jennifer Tidball, Acting Director of the Missouri Department of Social Services and Tim Decker, Director of the Children’s Division of DSS, on behalf of all minor children and youth who are or will be placed in Missouri’s foster care custody.
The first class action lawsuit to shine a federal spotlight solely on the overuse of psychotropic medications among vulnerable, at risk populations – such as Missouri’s 13,000 children in foster care – the complaint alleges longstanding, dangerous, unlawful and deliberately indifferent practices by the defendants, including:
- Failure to ensure that powerful psychotropic drugs are administered to children safely and only when necessary
- Failure to maintain complete and current medical records for children in foster care and to provide those records to foster parents and health providers to ensure effective and well-informed treatment
- Failure to maintain a secondary review system to identify and address high risk and outlier prescriptions to children when they occur
- Failure to assure and document meaningful, informed consent in relation to the administration of these drugs
M.B. is a fourteen-year-old boy in the foster care custody of CD (Children’s Division of DSS), currently placed in a residential facility, though as of the time of filing he was temporarily placed in a psychiatric hospital. M.B.’s case is brought by his adult Next Friend, Ericka Eggemeyer. Over at least the past three years that M.B. has been in Missouri foster care, CD has failed in its obligation to provide for his safety and well-being with respect to how psychotropic medications are being administered. CD has allowed M.B. to be placed on more than six psychotropic drugs at once, failed M.B. and his caregivers with updated medical and mental health records, failed to maintain a consistent informed consent process to ensure individual attention to his treatment, and failed to institute an effective mechanism for reviewing dangerous prescription practices. As a result, he has been harmed and put at further risk of harm.
Plaintiffs E.S., age three, and Z.S., age two, are siblings whose cases are brought by their adult Next Friends, A.S. and S.H. respectively. They are both in the foster care custody of CD. CD has allowed E.S. and Z.S. to be placed on psychotropic medications as toddlers in the absence of any effective mechanism for reviewing this troubling prescription practice. As a result, they have been harmed and put at further risk of harm.