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Woman Sues State Over Sister's Restraint Death
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 14, 2005

WALTHAM, MASSACHUSETTS--A Waltham woman with an intellectual disability is suing the Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation over her sister's restraint-related death.

The Boston Herald reported Monday that Linda Sargent, 40, has filed a $1 million wrongful death lawsuit against DMR and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

Sargent's 39-year-old sister, Patricia, who was diagnosed with a seizure disorder, died around suppertime on May 30, 2002 while group home staff physically restrained her in what is commonly known as a "basket hold". At some point during the restraint, in which she was held down with her arms crossed over her chest, Patricia vomited. She then inhaled the vomit back into her lungs and suffocated.

Investigators were not able to establish whether she was on her stomach or her back at the time, nor how many staff members were on top of her.

The state's Disabled Persons Protection Commission could not substantiate allegations of abuse.

"Any hold that you do, if it results in death, is either being applied improperly or the staff hasn't been trained properly," said Sargent's attorney, Alan King.

Linda Sargent lives in her own apartment in Waltham, the Herald noted.

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