Behavioral Health Practice

Practice Area

Behavioral Health Practice

The attorneys of Lewis Brisbois’ Behavioral Health Practice provide advice, education, counsel and litigation services to healthcare systems, hospitals, residential facilities, inpatient and outpatient treatment providers, and industry organizations. Our attorneys have the knowledge and experience to help clients find solutions in the unique behavioral health environment.

In 2014, we represented two hospital systems in the landmark Washington Supreme Court case In the matter of the Detention of D.W., 332 P.3d 423, which held that the practice of psychiatric boarding in acute care hospitals cannot be used by the state as a remedy for lack of space in appropriate treatment facilities.

Our work is driven not just by the needs of our clients, but by the recognition that they serve patients who struggle with complicated mental and substance abuse disorders. We are partners with our clients in helping their patients cope with crisis and in improving their patients’ lives. 

Litigation Services

  • Medical and mental health provider malpractice defense 
  • Civil commitment court litigation
  • Appeals
  • Corrections litigation
  • Class actions
  • Managed care
  • Workplace violence
  • Guardianships
  • Licensing matters and disciplinary proceedings
  • Certificate of need

Regulatory Compliance

  • EMTALA and other enforcement actions
  • Compliance with Medicare and Medicaid requirements
  • HIPAA and confidentiality, including:
    • Privacy standards
    • Standards for electronic transactions
    • Security standards
    • Breach notification and response
    • Part 2 substance abuse
  • Federal and state laws and regulations

Advice, Education & Counsel

  • Review and drafting of policies, procedures, and guidelines
  • Opinion letters
  • Medical decision making, surrogate decision makers and consent issues
  • Capacity and competency
  • Risk management
  • Staff and leadership training
  • Minors and parent-initiated treatment
  • Geropsychiatry issues
  • Crisis management and media relations
  • Reimbursement and parity

Representative Cases & Projects

  • Represented two health systems at the trial court level and then on appeal to the Washington Supreme Court. This landmark case established the right of patients to appropriate mental health treatment when detained pursuant to civil commitment laws.
  • Represented state trade association in litigation involving hospitalization of court committed individuals.
  • Represented community hospital in obtaining a court order requiring the state hospital to admit civilly committed patient; state hospital was fined and ordered to pay client’s attorney fees.
  • Defended medical and mental health provider for metropolitan jail in civil rights lawsuit involving death of inmate who suffered from mental disorder.
  • Defended subacute psychiatric facility in lawsuit alleging failure to prevent suicide of resident.
  • Obtained summary judgment dismissal for hospital client in case alleging failure to prevent suicide of minor patient.
  • Assisted with multiple investigations of adverse events in Washington and Oregon inpatient, outpatient, and residential behavioral health settings.
  • Drafted policies and procedures regarding admission of patients to adult and minor inpatient psychiatric units.
  • Evaluated electronic health record (EHR) system and advised regarding access to Part 2 substance abuse records within integrated health system.
  • Analyzed compliance issues related to medication-assisted treatment of substance abuse disorders.


The Behavioral Health Practice works with these other practices at Lewis Brisbois:


Vice Chair

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