Family Awarded $77m from Drug Treatment Centre for Discharging Son Early

Attorney Discusses Wrongful Death Elements

Proving Wrongful Death Example

Family awarded $77m from addiction treatment center after parents filed a lawsuit against the North Carolina health care provider for releasing their son.

He had been a talented athlete and the kicker on his high school football team when he was not mentally stable. Let’s look at the news details with Ehline Law and our personal injury attorneys. As a warning, Michael is a Texas and California lawyer.

We will explore this case as an example. And apply California law since we can’t analyze a North Carolina death matter legally speaking. In California, like many states, a wrongful death lawsuit arises when another party brings a family member to die from negligence or wrongful actions. The wrongful death lawsuit is a civil matter that is independent and distinct from any criminal cases filed against the wrongdoer who caused the person’s death. This civil lawsuit is separate from any criminal matter and may arise and continue when no criminal charges are filed.

And the survivor can still sue if the responsible party is criminally acquitted of any felony or misdemeanor or does no jail time at all.

Jury Awards Family $77 million for Wrongful Death on Georgia Interstate 85

Nick Carusillo was a victim of substance abuse since his teenage days in North Carolina. He started to display symptoms of bipolar disorder, and by the time he was 20, medical providers confirmed Carusillo’s mental illness.

In 2017, his parents decided to admit him to Metro Atlanta Recovery Residences (MARR).

Metro Atlanta Recovery Residences Removed Nick from Lithium Despite Warnings

To manage his bipolar disorder, Carusillo was on lithium and Seroquel, an atypical antipsychotic medication. He was medically stable before his admission to MARR. A week later, a medical professional responsible for treating Carusillo took him off lithium, despite Nick’s parents and therapist advising the doctor against it.

Nick Violated Addiction Treatment Center’s Rules, MARR Argues

As Carusillo’s health deteriorated, MARR forced him to leave the facility on September 19, 2017, just two weeks after admission. They stated that Nick violated the facility’s rules and received a final warning. However, he ignored it and was found using a cell phone which was against the facility’s rules.

MARR moved Nick from the drug treatment centre to a sober living residence and failed to mention Carusillo’s mental health issues and that he was no longer on lithium.

Nick Carusillo Died on the Interstate 85

Nick Carusillo died on September 22, 2017. He was found dead and naked on a Georgia Interstate 85 after getting hit by several vehicles a few days following his discharge from the drug treatment centre. Medical reports suggested that he did not have any illegal drugs or alcohol in his system before his death.

Carusillos Pursue Lawsuit Against MARR

In 2019, Carusillo’s parents filed a lawsuit against MARR.

The family’s attorneys, Natalie Woodward and Dax Lopez told the jury that the family was unaware of Nick’s location until he laid down naked on Interstate 85 and got run over by multiple cars.

Substantial Jury Verdict in Favor of Carusillos

MARR’s attorney Heather Saum Ware argued that they stopped Carusillo’s lithium treatment after complaining of side effects. They also stated that Nick violated the addiction treatment center rules, including using a cell phone, resulting in a conference call among Nick, Mike, Tina Carusillo, and the staff.

Court filing revealed that Nick Carusillo refused to go to a more intensive treatment facility which is why MARR dropped Nick off at a sober living house.

The family’s lawyers argued that “Nick” left the sober living house early in the morning, violating the facility’s curfew rules. Because of this, the owner of the sober living house dropped Nick off at an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting.

During all this time, his family did not receive any whereabouts or information about their son, Nick. The latter was found naked on I-85 outside Atlanta after being run over by multiple vehicles. Perhaps this verdict will prompt change and provide more available resources to loved ones and victims.

Finally, after years of legal battle, in September 2022, the jury awarded Mike and Tina Carusillo $77 million in damages for their son’s death across the following:

  • Pain and suffering – $10 million
  • For Nick’s life – $55 million
  • Punitive damages – $1 million
  • Attorney fees and other expenses – $11 million.

The Need for Proper Staffing and Guidelines, Grieving Family Emphasizes During Interview with Associated Press

Saum Ware expressed her disappointment in the jury’s decision and refused to comment further on the ongoing litigation stating that MARR will appeal the decision anytime soon.

The parents hope this will send a message about their son’s pain and perhaps prompt legislation to ensure proper training and staff personnel of chemical abuse treatment facilities. Nick’s mother, Tina Carusillo, told the Associated Press that the verdict’s size would hopefully make people pay more attention, including insurers, people seeking treatment, facilities, parents, and protocols after being discharged from an addiction treatment facility.

Mike Carusillo, speaking to Associated Press after the verdict, said that he hoped the successful wrongful death lawsuit would pave the way for legislation ensuring proper staffing and guidelines at diagnosis and addiction treatment centers.

How things stack up leading to a wrongful death claim can combine a chain of events with multiple defendants and victims, including:

  • Motor vehicle accidents (MVA)
  • Slip, trip, and falls
  • Medical malpractice
  • Nursing home abuse
  • Defective products and medications
  • Vicious animal attacks.

A Los Angeles, California, wrongful death attorney can review the circumstances connected with your loved one’s death for no upfront costs or attorney’s fees. After a thorough, free case review, we can determine if you and your family members have a potential claim against one or more persons under California’s wrongful death statute.

Benefits of Filing a California Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Our lead counsel is licensed to practice law in both Texas and California courts. This above example was in another foreign jurisdiction. California and Texas have their statutory schemes, so we added this to aid our viewers in CA, as it is a huge place for accidental death lawsuits.

Remember that filing a lawsuit or government claim cannot raise your loved one back from the dead. But holding the negligent party responsible for your causing a loved one’s death can deliver justice in the form of financial compensation. This is how we lawyers modernly hold wrongdoers accountable for wrongful acts and negligence. Instead of families taking the law into their own hands with violence and blood feuds, wrongful death attorneys can provide survivors with comfort and closure after an untimely passing.

Seeking justice on behalf of a family member who can no longer speak for themselves may also alter the future bad behavior of businesses and agencies that regularly violate the rights of sovereign Americans. So an added benefit of going after deep pockets is preventing other families from facing the tragedy of a defective product, poor road maintenance, or poorly trained police dog, for example. A wrongful death lawsuit can cause an agency to change policies or a manufacturer to remove a dangerous product from the marketplace or issue a recall.

Other Benefits of Bringing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death action can also ensure compensation to the benefit of surviving family members depending on a lost loved one for aid and future financial support. The financial hardship caused by the loss of a family member can be weighty and open-ended. A lawsuit can culminate in recompense for employment, loss of wages, past, present, and future financial benefits, and other intangibles that the survivors would have received had the decedent not died.

Awarded court restitution in a wrongful death case may include reasonable types of things like:

  • Lost past, present, and future income from earnings provided by the deceased family member
  • Lost of financial benefits, the dead family member might have earned over their natural life-span
  • Funeral expenses and costs
  • Loss of help around the home (aka household services) and other contributions the decedent worth otherwise have provided to the surviving family if not but for the negligent killing.
  • The consortium, or loss of love, affection, emotional support, moral support, leadership, and other intangibles that the deceased relative would have provided.

Multiple factors decide the measure of lost future income, including decedent’s:

  • Age
  • Health
  • Education
  • Career
  • Skills.

Experts can also be used to calculate estimated lost of income amounts based on key factors. Reasonable funeral costs must be equal to the true amounts paid to the funeral home, morgue, and ancillary businesses, like a catering company, etc., that are deemed fair and just.

Sometimes it can seem speculative when trying to pinpoint a value on the contributions a deceased family member would have provided had they survived. While there is not a formula for calculating this number, as an experienced wrongful death lawyer knows how to increase the size of the possible damages a family can recover after suffering an intangible loss or tangible economic damage.

In this case, Carusillo struggled with substance abuse since he was a teenager while growing up in North Carolina. Even though he had bipolar disorder by the time he reached 20 years old and his past in and out of treatment facilities, MARR failed to keep Carusillo locked down, leading to his death as Carusillo’s condition deteriorated.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Ehline Law

In the case of “Family awarded $77m from a drug treatment centre for discharging son early“, the treatment center had the duty to take care of Nick, which they did not fulfill, resulting in wrongful death. Many incidents of negligence occurring at treatment centers in the US go unnoticed, resulting in injuries to the victims and even wrongful death victims like Carusillo’s family.

If you lost someone due to another’s negligence, or have questions about filing a wrongful death claim, contact us at (833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation. Our Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys are here to help you and your family seek justice for the tragic loss of your loved one. Please speak with our legal experts swiftly, as you may qualify for compensation. For this reason, we are standing by our telephone to take your call 24/7.


Associated Press, Atlanta


Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of the largest motorcycle accident settlements in U.S. History. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients. We pride ourselves in being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride, and a a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.

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