CLEARWATER, Fla. – The Arc Tampa Bay, Inc. is a non-profit organization that owns a group home for the mentally and developmentally disabled that is located in Clearwater. It is called “The Ranch.” Part of the former “National Association for Retarded People” beginning in 1953, The Arc is a strong advocate for their clients’ abilities and strengths, and their right to function in society and not be confined to life in an institution. The Arc was a leading 1990s national advocate for the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Now, the organization is faced with a lawsuit filed by a Bradenton couple. They declare their developmentally disabled child was terrorized during his three-year stay at The Ranch from December 2016 to October 2019. The parents’ and child’s names are not revealed, but the child is referred to as “K.K.”
The lawsuit alleges K.K. was “repeatedly punished for not going to sleep on time by staff impersonating a monster/boogeyman to frighten him,” and that “one such incident was videotaped and distributed by one such staff member…” In addition to the child being scared by staff allegedly donned in a monster or boogeyman outfit, other staff members allegedly told the child that if he didn’t go to sleep, the boogeyman would attack or harm him. It is also claimed that his hands were often tied or restrained for an extended period of time. Lastly, it alleges that The Arc of Tampa Bay through its agents and employees “failed to comply with K.K.’s dietary restrictions due to his medical conditions.”
One of several counts against the non-profit includes “Vicarious Liability,” where the Plaintiff’s state they expected the organization to know or discover and correct the problems their child was suffering due to the conduct of staff members. K.K. is said to suffer from physical injuries, anxieties, night terrors, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other ailments. Along with mental and medical health expenses, the couple complains they have lost “filial consortium,” meaning the parents have lost the society, affection, and companionship of their child, due to injury.
Children living at The Ranch are under 18 years old and typically suffer from self-injurious behavior, elopement, physical aggression, and destructive tendencies towards property. K.K.’s history of behavior is unknown.
A search performed, of court records, in Pinellas, Hillsborough, and Manatee Counties showed no records of lawsuits against the Arc of Tampa Bay for the past twenty years.
The attorney for the Plaintiffs is Damien B. Mallard of Mallard Law. He was unavailable to answer questions. The Defendant’s attorney is Jacqueline R. Ambrose Root of Pennington P.A., Tampa.