The METO Settlement
Shamus O'Meara: Decision to Take the Case
Shamus O'Meara: Well, I originally heard about issues involving people with developmental disabilities at the METO program several years ago when I chaired the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities. We heard from families, from the advocates, from our council's executive director, and others within state government that there were things taking place at METO which were not consistent with Minnesota's prohibition on restraint and seclusion, and also that people's civil rights were being violated and needed to be looked into.
Our council vetted some of these issues over time and, contemporaneously with that, there was an investigation by the State Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities and, ultimately, another state agency, the Office of Health Facility Compliance. A report was generated by both of those agencies, most specifically the Ombudsman's report entitled Just Plain Wrong, which articulated a number of different pretty horrific things that were happening to loved ones at METO—the use of law enforcement handcuffs, leg irons, isolation and seclusion, abusive treatment just across the spectrum of people with developmental disabilities that were residents at the METO program.
This took place over a number of years, and the Just Plain Wrong report articulated a number of different examples of the abusive treatment. So that was the predicate for our interest in serving as counsel for what ultimately has become a class action lawsuit and class action settlement.