Investigative journalist looks back at class-action Arnold v. Sarn settlement

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This year is the fortieth anniversary of the class action lawsuit Arnold v Sarn, which focused on care and services for those with serious mental illness, regardless of cost. The case ended with a settlement in 2014, but  investigative journalist Amy Silverman found that the agreement has not led to the kind of changes sought in the original lawsuit. We spoke with Amy Silverman earlier today.

“A profile of Chick Arnold was one of the first pieces of journalism I had ever done almost 30 years ago,” Silverman said.

In 1981, Chick Arnold was in charge of several groups of people, such as the elderly and those with serious mental illness. He had noticed that care for people with serious mental illnesses regardless of cost was not being provided with people he worked with. Chick got together with public interest attorneys and developed a lawsuit that would become one of the longest-running class-action lawsuits in the state’s history.

In 2014 a settlement agreement was reached, however aspects of the settlement agreement have not happened as aggressively.

“As a journalist I had really felt kind of guilty that I wasn’t paying attention to what was going on with Arnold v. Sarn, but last fall I spoke to Chick and he said ‘you know I really wasn’t happy with that settlement agreement’, that had been his life’s work and to find out that it didn’t do what he wanted it to do was kind of crushing,” Silverman said.

For the full story, viewers can go to the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting where the fund for the project was made possible.

Amy Silverman, investigative journalist

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