Montana’s Wilderness Alternative School Inc., which operates as Wilderness Treatment Center, is the defendant in a proposed class action filed by two sets of parents who claim the facility has fraudulently misrepresented its behavioral health, housing, supervision, education, counseling, and care services for at-risk boys.
The lawsuit explains the services offered by Wilderness Treatment Center are supposedly suitable for at-risk minors in need of rehabilitation services. The plaintiffs, two sets of parents from North Carolina and Louisiana, claim they sent their sons to the defendant’s facility after seeing Wilderness Treatment Center’s advertising materials and speaking over the phone with facility staff. The plaintiffs’ boys are described in the complaint as being at risk for running away.
One plaintiff stated to the defendant’s staff that his son did in fact intend to run away, the complaint says. The Wilderness staff member reportedly told the man that the facility was suitable for his son in that, in addition to intense supervision of runaway-risk residents, there was “nowhere to run” up in Montana. The plaintiff and his wife sent their son to Wilderness in April 2018, after which the lawsuit charges Wilderness Treatment Center and its staff “did not take necessary and required actions to prevent” the child from escaping.
The second set of plaintiff parents also admitted their son to Wilderness with an assurance from staff that the boy “would not succeed in any attempts to escape or run away,” the suit says. Shortly after the minor arrived at the facility, the lawsuit claims, he fled from Wilderness Treatment Center. From the complaint:
“On the day after J.P. arrived at WTC, he broke into a room at the facility in search of cigarettes. On a subsequent evening, J.P. and another resident at WTC ran away from the facility after dinner and were later found by police and returned to WTC.”
In a subsequent incident, the lawsuit continues, both of the plaintiffs’ sons were apparently able to steal keys “left unsecured and available” by the defendant’s staff and drive a Wilderness Treatment Center vehicle off site. The plaintiffs blame the above-described incidents on Wilderness Treatment Center’s alleged failure to ensure it was staffed sufficiently enough to keep a 24-hour watch on certain residents, especially those who had made prior suicide threats.
The lawsuit also takes issue with several proposed class members’ sons supposedly being allowed by staff to take “a number of prescription medications that were discontinued upon direction of” Wilderness Treatment Center. These treatments “may have contributed to or caused unpredictable behavior or an increased risk of harm,” according to the suit.