LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4)– A family from Lakewood is suing a Littleton behavioral health center over the death of a 22-year-old loved one who went there for help.

Carson Magines was suffering from depression and addiction issues. He voluntarily entered Highlands Behavioral Health System for treatment two years ago. Nine days later he was dead.

His mother, Lianne Magines, told CBS, “They took away all hope of ever having a life. He died at the hands of their facility.”

In their lawsuit filed in Denver District Court the family claims Carson was over-medicated with the drug fentanyl, not properly monitored, and had been dead for hours when it was finally discovered he was not breathing. They claim Highlands tried to cover it up.

Highlands Behavioral Health System (credit: CBS)

Highlands Behavioral Health System (credit: CBS)

Carson’s sister Madison said, “I want there to be consequences and people to be held accountable for what happened to my brother.”

The state health department conducted an unannounced inspection two months after the death. It found numerous state and federal “deficiencies.” One was that the drug fentanyl was not given to Mangines in dosage prescribed by his doctor. The department also found records that claimed Mangines was checked every 15 minutes during the night and was reported snoring, but was quite likely already dead by that time.

Hollynd Hoskins is the family’s attorney, “They isolated him in a room alone when he had slurred speech, incoherent, vomiting and they left him to die.”

After the state health department inspection the facility corrected the violations, but that is of little consequence to the tearful mother of the man who died.

Lianne Magines talks to CBS4's Rick Sallinger (credit: CBS)

Lianne Magines talks to CBS4’s Rick Sallinger (credit: CBS)

When CBS 4 investigator Rick Sallinger asked Lianne Mangines, “You put your faith in this facility. Did they let you down?” She replied, “They took my son.”

Highlands Behavioral Health System sent CBS 4 a statement which reads, Highlands Behavioral Health System is deeply saddened by this event and extends its sympathies to the family involved. Highlands is committed to providing the best possible care and treatment of our patients. Patient privacy laws prevent the facility from commenting about any specific care or treatment of any patient, even ones that have filed lawsuits. Highlands denies the allegations in the lawsuit filed and believes that when the evidence is presented in court, it will demonstrate that Highlands met the standard of care associated with this matter.

Highlands denies any allegations or accusations that it attempted to “cover up” anything related to this matter and the facility has cooperated completely with all entities evaluating this matter. Highlands has responded fully and appropriately to all of the CDPHE’s questions and has been found to be in compliance with all applicable patient care regulations. All physicians practicing at Highlands were appropriately licensed for the treatment provided to patients and were qualified and able to provide such treatment.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an investigation.

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

  1. David Bingham says:

    Sounds like he was on his way toward the great darkness when he was admitted. Blame the hospital maybe get some money. I know this hospital and it is terrific. My daughter has been there for suicidal attempts.

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