Marion County Files Lawsuit Against Oregon Health Authority & Oregon State Hospital

Posted on September 13, 2023

Salem, OR — On September 12, 2023, Marion County filed a lawsuit against the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon State Hospital in Marion County Circuit Court. The County is asking the Court to order the State to comply with its statutory obligation to evaluate and treat individuals with pending criminal charges unable to aid and assist in their own defense and who require behavioral health restoration services at the State Hospital.

“This action is not something that we take lightly,” said Commissioner Colm Willis. “We have been trying to solve these issues for a long time. The State needs to fulfill their responsibilities to the individuals needing critical treatment and to the citizens that are paying taxes for them to do the job that the law says is their responsibility.”

For too long, the State has failed to meet its legal obligation to fund, build, and staff sufficient beds for the growing number of Oregonians who need inpatient behavioral health restoration services. By Oregon law, only the State can provide or contract for this inpatient hospital level of restoration care. It has failed to do so. Instead, sicker and more violent people are being pushed out into the community where their behavioral health restoration needs simply cannot be met. The State’s failure to provide sufficient inpatient capacity has had severe, devastating impacts on livability and public safety in our county.

“Local governments and communities are feeling and seeing the negative impact of the choices being made at the state level and are bearing the brunt of the State’s inability or unwillingness to do what it is legally required to do,” said Commissioner Danielle Bethell.

We now seek a court order to require the State to fulfill its legal responsibility to provide sufficient staff, facilities, and other resources required for inpatient restoration to assist individuals in their own defense, as well as an order for the State to procure these resources.

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