Local News in Brief : Santa Ana : Deaf Man Held by State May Get a Settlement

A deaf man allegedly misdiagnosed as mentally retarded and kept in state institutions for 28 years may receive a lifetime income from the state as part of a settlement of his lawsuit.

Alberto Valdez, 37, will receive a lifetime income if the proposed settlement is approved by the Legislature, state Deputy Atty. Gen. Randall B. Christison said Friday.

Valdez, a resident of Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk, would receive $60,000 annually for two years, then $50,000 annually for three years, then $30,000 annually for the rest of his life, Christison said.

The money will be used by Valdez's conservator to see that he is cared for, Christison said. Valdez is expected to leave the state facility and move into a private care home, he said.

If approved, the settlement will conclude a suit filed 10 years ago by Valdez's sister against the state.

The suit alleged that Valdez, deaf since early childhood, was misdiagnosed as retarded in 1960. As a result, the suit contended, Valdez had been kept in facilities for the retarded or insane instead of receiving instruction befitting a deaf person of normal intelligence.

The state has disputed those claims, and insists that Valdez was properly diagnosed. Under the settlement, which is expected to cost the state at least $600,000, no guilt was admitted.

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