Florida man spends 20 years locked up after Nebraska doctors misdiagnose him as delusional
A prisoner behind bars (Shutterstock)

A Florida man is suing doctors at the Lincoln Regional Center in Nebraska because he said he was misdiagnosed as delusional, and locked up for 20 years.

The Lincoln Journal Star reported that 52-year-old John Maxwell Montin had been arrested in 1992 after he walked up to a Nebraska home and said that he was taking it back because it belonged to his ancestors. An 11-hour stand-off ended with shots fired, and Montin was arrested for attempted murder and dozens of other charges.

But during the trial, the "narrative turned out to be substantially different," according to the Journal Star. Attempted murder, a weapons charge, and 22 other charges were dropped.

On a false imprisonment charge and a second use of a weapon charge, Montin was found not responsible by reason of insanity, and was committed to the Lincoln Regional Center.

For 19 years, doctors based their treatment of Montin on initial police reports, and never read the transcript of the trial. But in 2012, Lincoln attorney Jon Braaten convinced Lincoln Regional Center psychiatrist Dr. Klaus Hartmann to read the court documents.

In a lawsuit filed on Friday, Omaha attorney Michael Gooch wrote that Hartmann "promptly revised his forensic view of Montin."

Lincoln Regional Center psychiatrist Dr. Edward Kelly determined in 2013 that Montin had never been delusional in the first place, and that his actions had been caused by a medication-induced psychosis. But by the time of the trial, Montin had stopped taking the medication.

"No matter what [Montin] said about the events that occurred in 1992, it was viewed under the auspices of him being delusional," Braaten explained.

In July 2013, Hayes County District Judge David Urbom declared that Montin was no longer a danger to himself or others by reason of mental illness or defect. He was released on July 16, 2013.

Montin is suing 21 doctors who worked at Lincoln Regional Center over the years. He is asking for $22 million in damages for holding him and forcing him to have unnecessary treatments. He is seeking another $760,000 in lost wages, and $10 million to cover punitive damages.

"It was an injustice, and he was right from the beginning," Braaten insisted.

Since leaving Nebraska, Montin has opened a business cleaning the bottom of boats in Florida. But his lawsuit noted that he missed his chance to marry and have children while being locked up, something that could have been avoided if staff had made a single phone call to the Hayes County court.

[Photo: Man in jail via Shutterstock.com]