MANAGED-CARE COMPANY BLAMED; Secret deal settles suit over teen-ager’s suicide — (Star-News)

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Star-News (Wilmington, NC)

October 27, 1998

Author: Compiled from staff and wire service reports

DURHAM – A secret settlement has ended a lawsuit against a managed-care company accused of botching the mental health care of a teen who eventually killed himself.    The case involved Gregory Mizell, whose mental depression evolved into bipolar disorder. The lawsuit filed by his mother, Lynn Mizell, charged that his condition worsened because cost-conscious health care providers failed to properly diagnose and treat him.

The teen assaulted his mother and killed himself after being discharged from a Raleigh hospital in December 1997. His mother originally sued over his care in 1996.

MCC Behavioral Care Inc., the Mizell family’s managed-care company for mental health purposes, was one of several defendants named in the lawsuit.

Details of the settlement, reached last month, were not revealed. If Ms. Mizell or her attorney discloses the terms with MCC and a social worker named Armand Occhetti, then MCC and Mr. Occhetti can move to vacate the settlement, court documents say.

MCC and other defendants denied all negligence allegations in documents filed shortly after Ms. Mizell sued.    The case was spotlighted in two CBS 60 Minutes stories about managed health care.    Gregory was 15 and about to begin his sophomore year at Chapel Hill High School when he first lapsed into severe depression in August 1995.  He attempted to kill himself with an overdose of prescribed antidepressant drugs.

He was discharged from inpatient psychiatric treatment after one day. A week later, he was hospitalized again after striking his mother, something he had never done before. That time, he was discharged in nine days. Gregory then tried to kill himself a second time.

“Because MCC would not authorize or pay for timely and appropriate care after Gregory’s first suicide attempt, he went into this spiral,” said Robert Glenn Jr., Ms. Mizell’s lawyer.