TUCSON, Ariz. — It's been nearly a month since a jury found a Tucson treatment facility liable for the death of a patient back in 2014. Sierra Tucson was ordered to pay $5 million in damages to the family of Steven Johe.
In 2014, Jennifer Johe had to make an important and emotional decision for her son, Steven -- and quickly. He was battling mental health and drug abuse issues.
Johe, who lives in New Jersey, searched nationwide for what she thought would be the best treatment facility for her son. She settled on Sierra Tucson.
"I felt like I was an intelligent person, I asked a lot of questions," Johe said. "But obviously, I didn't ask questions that from my experience now, I would have asked."
Steven died just four days after he was checked in. Johe sued Sierra Tucson over her son's death, and a jury found the facility was negligent and responsible.
Now that the trial is over, Johe and her daughter, Meredith, plan to use the money from the lawsuit to honor Steven with a foundation in his name. It would be one that would help families like hers, find the resources they need, when it comes to choosing the right treatment center.
Johe wants to start by creating a website that lists important questions to ask when looking for a facility, such as how many people have died at the facility, and what percentage of patients complete the 30-day program?
She says if she had known more about the care her son was going to receive before he went, she may not have chosen to send him to Sierra Tucson.
The $5 million awarded to the Johe family is something that doesn't happen often in Arizona, according to Johe's attorney's. Typically, the awards for the death of an adult child is between $500,000 and $1 million.