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Terry Higgins

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carlie

Question

I am posting this for Terry Higgins.

carlie

Metro/State news

Star Tribune

Tuesday

October 25/1988

|fets'|iarne activist wins $200,000 in

Jury finds that 3 officials ignored law

suit

By Dennis Cassano

StrfT Writer

Terry Higgins, a .resident of the Minnesota Veterans Home who for years has battled administrators in adv<> eating residents' rights, won a $200,000 jury verdict Monday against three current and former state officials for a,busc and failure to follow state law.

i> .

"I'm elated!" Higgins said. "The fact

that I've been diagnosed as a paranoid doesn't mean that they weren't out to get me!"

The Twin Cities Veterans Home has been criticized for health and business mismanagement in several stale audits in recent years. The' home temporarily was removed from the

jurisdiction of the Department of Veterans Affairs by Gov. Rudy Per-pich in the summer of 1987. It recently was placed under supervision of a board that is in the department but independent of the commissioner, William Gregg.

member Henncpin County jury against Gregg, Charles Turnbull, former administrator of the home whom Gregg fired in 1984. and Er-win Peterson, a state special assistant attorney general who represents the department.

torncy general who represented three men in the trial, said his o has not decided what steps wil taken next or 'whether to api Because the state is representing three men, they personally will have to pay the award.

Gerald Lauric, an attorney who resented Higgins, said, "This been a long, personal battle to pro

Higgins won the verdict from a six- James Barone, a special assistant at- Vets homes continued pn page 4E

Vets homes

his rights. He feels vindicated by this decision."

Lauric added, "We will try to collect this money for Mr. Higgins. It

couldn't happen to a nicer guy."

The jury found that Gregg negligently inflicted emotional distress on Higgins. It also found that Gregg violated state laws that require rules on the procedure for admitting and discharging residents and which prohibit the Veterans Home from retaliating against veterans who voice grievances about the institution.

The jurv decided that Turnbull vio-hu-d the Vulnerable Adults Act, which protects such people from conduct that could resuli in mental or emotional distress. It decided that Peterson participated in wrongfully evicting Higgins from the home.

The jury did not allocate the amount '• '. each man should pay, but said the '< damages total $200,000. It deliberat- ' . ed Friday afternoon and most of yes- ,. tcrday after a nine-day trial before '-District Judge Delila Pierce. '

Higgins, 33, served in the armed forces in West Germany. After his discharge and treatment for mental illness, he moved into the Veterans Home in 1982. A 1983 dispute over whether Higgins or the home should control the funds he received from the G.I. Bill was the first in a series of disputes that led to his unsuccessful eviction four times, Lauric said.

Higgins became an advocate for residents of the home and for their right to criticize without retaliation. One of his principal criticisms was that , the home has no written rules or

regulations with criteria on who can be admitted and who should be discharged or evicted.

In 1986, Higgins, who has been diagnosed as paranoid and having a personality disorder, started the suit without a lawyer. He filed his own motions and responded to the state's motions until earlier this year when he hired Laurie and another lawyer, Andrew Tanick. Higgins, who still lives at the home, said yesterday that he wants to go to law school.

Laurie said that officials of the home aggravated Higgins' mental illness, Laurie said that Edward Rico, a former assistant to Gregg, testified that Higgins "was considered a pest and •Hnt/s why they wanted to gr1 rd of him." Rico has filed a suit claiming • that Gregg improperly fired him. Laurie said.

He said that Higgins testified before the Legislature in 1983 on a bill to protect veterans' rights and complained about discharge procedures at the home. Three days later, Laurie said, Higgins was again discharged unsuccessfully.

In November 1984, Higgins joined a dass-acfion suit on the home's discharge practices, Laurie said. Officials of the home then attempted a formal landlord-tenant eviction that was rejected by a judge as retaliatory, Lauric said.

In 1985. Higgins went to his room di the home to discover that 1m belongings hnd been removed and another man had moved into the room. It was a forcible eviction that was overturned by another court, Laurie said.

Staff writers Paul Gustafson and Kevin Diaz contributed

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  • HadIt.com Elder

Way to go Terry!!!! Certainly adds a lot of credibility to what you have said in the past.

Best Regards,

Pete

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  • HadIt.com Elder

Terry

You are probably banned from the Twin Cities on pain of death. They probably put the word out on you when you arrived in Florida and went for your first visit to the St. Pete VARO. The guys that abused you at the veterans home should probably be hanged.

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I have tremendous respect for Terry. He deals with a lot and is a true Warrior!

The only way that terrible situations like the one he was in get changed- is if someone steps up to the plate and MAKES them change.

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