Family of Arkansas man who died in state facility seeking multi-million-dollar settlement

Local News

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – David Cain’s family says he was a good guy and was very talkative and cognizant of things despite having the mental capacity of a six-year-old.

“He really enjoyed giving people a hard time, joking around.  He was really full of life,” his sister Christine McAuliffe said.

He was a resident at the Booneville Human Development Center and one day had a behavior incident where he was then restrained by several staff members.  The attorney for the family, Joshua Gillispie, say there were three men holding him down in an attempt to calm him.  Gillispie said this tactic should only be employed when there is imminent harm being done to the resident or staff member.

“These physical restraints are highly frowned upon by disability advocates and are not the industry standard anymore,” Gillispie explained.

Cains also suffered from GERD, which is a stomach disease where stomach acids and bile can irritate the stomach lining.  He had a health plan saying he was not supposed to lay down horizontally for at least an hour after meals. 

An investigation into the incident said Cains had just recently eaten lunch and when he was pinned down he vomited.  The family alleges staff members did not realize he was not breathing until it was too late for him and he choked to death on his own vomit. 

“I can’t that out of my head, what those last minutes.  How terrible and painful and terrifying that had to have been,” Gillispie said.

A final incident report from DHS said an investigation found no sign of maltreatment and the staff acted appropriately. 

The family filed suit with the claims commission and is seeking $7 million in damages, which Gillsipie said he came up with the number, but more so McAuliffe says she hopes there will be changes in policy and procedures.

“My brother didn’t deserve this, nobody in these facilities, no disabled person deserves to die at the hands of the people who are paid to take care of them,” McAuliffe said.

We also reached out to DHS for comment on this story but they said they would not comment on pending litigation. 

The family says it is still hard to deal with the loss of David a year and a half later.

“It’s been incredibly difficult.  Not only the fact that he’s not here but everything that has transpired since then, nobody should have to go through that,” McAuliffe said.

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