Monday, July 28, 2014

Family sues Dr. Phil, Utah treatment center

By Pat Reavy, Deseret News

Published: Wed, Jan. 29 5:03 p.m. MST

 Dr. Phil McGraw arrives at the Museum of Television and Radio's annual gala in Beverly Hills, Calif., in this Oct. 30, 2006, file photo. The family of a teen girl who claims she was berated on television by Dr. Phil and then sent to a Utah residential treatment center where she was falsely imprisoned, has filed a civil complaint in federal court.

Dr. Phil McGraw arrives at the Museum of Television and Radio's annual gala in Beverly Hills, Calif., in this Oct. 30, 2006, file photo. The family of a teen girl who claims she was berated on television by Dr. Phil and then sent to a Utah residential treatment center where she was falsely imprisoned, has filed a civil complaint in federal court.

(Matt Sayles, Associated Press)

SYRACUSE — The family of a teenage girl who claims she was berated on television by Dr. Phil and then sent to a residential treatment center in Utah where she was falsely imprisoned, has filed a civil lawsuit.

Terri and David Myers, on behalf of their 15-year-old daughter, filed the complaint in federal court in Salt Lake City on Monday against the Dr. Phil Organization, Bain Capital, CRC Health Group, Aspen Educational Group, Island View Academy in Syracuse and a teacher at the academy.

In February of 2013, Terri Myer went on the "Dr. Phil" show with her daughter. In the episode, the daughter admitted to having sex with adult men she met online, which the family called "bizarre and dangerous conduct" in their lawsuit.

The family claims Dr. Phil, Phil McGraw, subjected the mother and daughter to "his brand of blunt ridicule." He offered to help the family by paying for the daughter to enroll at Island View Academy, a co-ed residential treatment center for troubled youth located in Syracuse.

The parents enrolled the girl. In their suit, they now call the facility a "private prison" and claim their daughter was placed there "for the purpose of forcing her to become obedient instead of truant by depriving her of freedom, privacy, education, and subjecting her to involuntary servitude, and unjust unusual punishments."

In one incident, the daughter apparently refused to obey staff members who told her to get off of her bed. When staff members tried to pull her off, her right arm "was badly and perhaps irreparably broken, and its main nerve severely damaged," the lawsuit states.

The family also claims their daughter's constitutional rights were violated and she was falsely imprisoned, as well as conspiracy and fraud.

Attempts to reach the Island View Academy and the "Dr. Phil" show for comments were unsuccessful.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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1. Ender
Salt Lake City, UT,
Jan. 29, 2014

The parents chose to go on the Dr. Phil show. The parents chose to use Dr. Phil's money to enroll their troubled teenager in a facility close to home. Now the parents want to sue everyone involved?

...smells like they're just going after deep pockets to me...

2. G Blake
West Jordan, UT,
Jan. 29, 2014

Ender, you may be right, although if the girl's arm was actually broken (particularly if it really is as bad as their lawyer makes it sound- which is unlikely, based on the understanding that lawyers always do all they can to maximize the sound of the damages caused to their clients), there might be a basis to ask why that happened. If the staff of the facility used excessive force or brutality to induce the girl to behave as they desired, then the girl has a case.
Oftimes however, people will harm themselves in the hope of blaming it on others, or exaggerate injuries, or even fabricate stories to incriminate those they want vengeance against; so those are also possibilities. The girl will have a large burden to prove causality, among other things.
So it sounds like the parents were more interested in getting someone else to pay for their daughter's treatment than they were in making certain the treatment she got was really appropriate for her particular problem. May the truth prevail.

3. Swartzy
Arlington, TX,
Jan. 29, 2014

It seems like the parents weren't really parents to the girl and Dr Phil hit it right on the head. He didn't go out on the street and bring this girl in. Anyone who has watched more that a couple of shows knows that this type of treatment is what he does. If they had not kept the girl inside the facility and she went out and was harmed they would have sued big time. Facilities like this one and others for drugs and mental problems always start out with Locked gates. It is normal not unusual. LIke was said, if the care taker did break her arm like she says, then they can sue for that, but nothing else. The started the whole process and now they are crying about it. Sorry for the arm, but the girl really needs some parents to guide her, not enable her.

4. UtahBlueDevil
Durham, NC,
Jan. 29, 2014

Are these parents claiming they did not have the right to pull their daughter from this facility? Really? That she was not sent to this facility with their permission?

There is a good chance excessive force was used, or that a freak accident did happen. Completely possible. Accidents do happen, and if an accident did happen, the girl needs to be compensated for that accident. But servitude? Really? Give me a break.

Sounds like parents that always point the finger somewhere elsewhere, and spend little time reflecting or owning the problems themselves. Good people do have out of control kids from time to time…. but they don't sue the people who try to help… even if it goes wrong. The ownership of what goes on with that child is theirs…. and no one else's.

5. Beach girl
Huntington Beach, CA,
Jan. 29, 2014

Why don't people take responsibility!! They chose to go on the Dr. Phil show!