Va. senator settles lawsuit over his son’s wrongful death in 2013

Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds, who is pushing the Virginia legislature for mental health-care reform, pauses while speaking during a luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, Monday, March 31, 2014. Last November, Deeds was attacker by his son, Austin "Gus" Deeds at their rural homestead in Bath County, his son then killed himself. The younger Deeds had been released the previous day from an emergency custody order because a psychiatric bed could not be found for him. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)(AP/Evan Vucci)
WASHINGTON — Virginia Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, settled a wrongful-death lawsuit against a former mental health evaluator who he blames for the 2013 death of his 24-year-old son.

The lawsuit against Michael Gentry was settled for $950,000 Oct.10 in Bath County Circuit Court, The Richmond Times-Dispatch first reported.

Deeds was concerned about his son, Austin “Gus” Deeds’ deteriorating mental condition and sought an emergency custody order, which authorized Gentry to find a bed for Gus at a mental health facility.

But Gentry did not contact all of the nearly three dozen available facilities, five of which had room to take Gus.

According to The Richmond Times-Dispatch, Gus stabbed his father multiple times in the face and torso and then shot himself.

Deed filed the lawsuit three years after his son’s death in 2016.

“My son is dead,” Deeds said in a statement on Tuesday. “No amount of money can make that right, bring him back or fill the hole in my heart. … Since my son’s death, this lawsuit and much of my work as a legislator has been about ensuring that people who struggle as he did, are less likely to wind up as he did, and more likely to receive the care they need.”

New state laws enforce that a patient should be taken to a state hospital if a bed cannot be found in a mental health facility, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“This lawsuit was a constructive element toward that end and toward the goal that Virginia families who struggle with mental illness will receive the care they so desperately need,” said the Lichtenstein Law Group in a statement, which counseled Deeds.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story reported the lawsuit was settled for $95,000. The story has since been corrected. 

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