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Civil Suit Alleges Negligence by Tallahassee Developmental Center

The Tallahassee Developmental Center
Tom Flanigan
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The Tallahassee Developmental Center was already reeling from a big outbreak of COVID-19 over the past month. Now the Center is facing a lawsuit from one of its former residents who was among the infected.

Dillion Johnson is a profoundly disabled 19-year old. Attorney Scott Gwartney said the young man had previously been brutalized by the center’s residents and even a management-level staff person over the past few years. But things would get even worse for Johnson. In mid-April, he along with more than 30 other residents and over 40 center staff tested positive for the coronavirus.

“And honestly, when I first heard he’d tested positive for COVID-19, I was fearful that would be the end of Dillion Johnson,” said Gwartney.

But Johnson survived. Now Gwartney has filed suit against the Developmental Center’s owners, Pensacola Care, Inc. and the Quest Management Group alleging a pattern of negligence.

“He’s had serious injuries on three occasions. Four if you count being positive for COVID-19. That’s what is so chilling about this. It’s not a one-time error. It’s also chilling that the first event is at the hands of a house supervisor.”

Gwartney said Johnson is no longer housed at the Tallahassee Developmental Center.

Quest Management Group Chief Operating Officer Kim Faustin released this written statement in response to a request for comment on the case:

“Unfortunately, HIPPA laws prohibit us from disclosing any information about a resident. By law, we cannot even acknowledge that an individual is a resident without the guardian’s express permission. In addition, while our practice is to be transparent regarding issues of public interest, our policy is to refrain from comments on matters under litigation.”

That litigation may be working its way through the process at the Second Judicial Circuit for some time. Courts are moving more slowly because of the COVID-19 situation, particularly for civil suits such as the one Gwartney has filed. He speculated a final decision could be a year off.

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