The family of a man who died while housed at the Transformed Life Ministries Rehabilitation Centre last year, is considering suing the Ministry of Health for its alleged negligence in allowing the facility to be operated.
Attorneys representing the relatives of Warren Mangal signalled their intention in a pre-action protocol sent to Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh and the Office of the Attorney General, yesterday afternoon.
“We have been retained with a view to filing a claim for breach of our client’s constitutional rights and for negligence against the State for authorizing and approving TLMRC as a safe place with competent staff for outpatients from the St Ann’s Hospital to be housed and for conspiring to conceal the conditions of detention,” attorney Jared Jagroo said.
In the letter, Jagroo and his colleagues made a request under the Freedom of Information Act for the ministry to provide them with documents on the ministry’s relationship with the centre, which would assist them in preparing their case.
The documents include the applications which the centre and its primary Pastor Glen Awong would have submitted to be approved as a rehabilitation centre; the ministry’s policy, practice, procedure, and criteria for licensing such centres; records of the payments and subventions that the government made to the centre and/or Awong and copies of assessment reports of the centre performed by ministry staff.
The ministry and AG’s Office was given 30 days in which to respond to the family’s request before they decide whether to file a judicial review lawsuit compelling disclosure.
The lawyers also said they were considering a claim against the centre.
“Additionally, we already instructed to bring a claim for damages for negligence against the TLMRC for fraudulently misrepresenting itself as a rehabilitation centre that could provide a reasonable, acceptable and appropriate standard of care for the deceased with a complement of suitably qualified and properly trained staff,” Jagroo said.
In the letter, the attorneys sought to give an outline of the circumstances which led to Mangal’s relatives committing him to the private facility in 2017.
According to the letter, Mangal was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at the St Ann’s Psychiatric Hospital between 2010 and 2011 and was assigned to the Arima Mental Health Outpatient Clinic.
In July 2017, Mangal was warded at the hospital for two weeks before being discharged by doctors.
Still unable to care for him, his family was advised by an employee of the ministry’s Social Services Department that he could be committed to the centre.
“The family was assured that TLMRC was a “government approved” facility that operated under the supervision and with the approval of the Ministry of Health,” Jagroo said.
Jagroo claimed that Mangal’s mother and sister were only allowed to tour certain areas of the facility, located along the Eastern Main Road in Arouca before they paid and Mangal was allowed to enter.
He claimed that the relatives attempted to visit Mangal during his first month there but were denied.
“On several occasions, however, when the family visited and spoke to the deceased, he informed them that he was extremely unhappy, was forced to wash the dishes and mop the church and begged to go home,” Jagroo said.
He also claimed that Mangal was forced to attend church services on a Saturday and was prevented to leave the facility to visit his relatives on Christmas and birthdays.
Mangal eventually died on December 15 last year.
Jagroo claimed that although Mangal was receiving treatment for the disorder and asthma, his cause of death was listed as pulmonary oedema, or excess fluid in the lungs.
The family requested a toxicology report from the Forensic Science Centre but are yet to receive it due to a backlog caused by faulty machinery.
“This is unsatisfactory and unacceptable. It has served to intensify and prolong the family’s anguish, pain, and suffering,” Jagroo said.
Jagroo claimed that the relative’s emotional trauma intensified after police led by Police Commissioner Gary Griffith raided the centre, last Wednesday.
He alleged that they were further shocked after viewing a press conference on the raid in which Deyalsingh and Social Development Minister Cherrie-Ann Critchlow-Cockburn participated.
“The family was astonished to know that the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Social Development and Family Services were aware of the state of this facility and failed to take the necessary action to shut it down,” Jagroo said.
He noted that Deyalsingh admitted that his ministry’s staff had inspected the facility and that it was in the process of making improvements to be licenced.
Jagroo also made note of concerns with conditions at the centre, which Deyalsingh quoted from reports of the staff of the Mental Health Unit of the ministry.
Mangal is also being represented by Anand Ramlogan, SC, Ganesh Saroop, and Alvin Pariagsingh.