Settlement Successfully Ends Chick Arnold's
Three-Decade Legal Fight for the
Rights of the Mentally Ill
Gov. Jan Brewer applauds Frazer Ryan partner for "unmatched
commitment to improving the lives of people with mental illness"
On January 8, 2014, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer announced that a
final agreement had been reached in the Arnold v. Sarn class action
lawsuit, which was filed in 1981 by
"Chick" Arnold on behalf of the seriously mentally ill.
"This is a landmark day for our state," Gov. Brewer said,
"particularly for the thousands of Arizonans living with serious mental illness
who finally have better access to the quality community-based resources and the
care and services they deserve."
She cited Arnold v. Sarn as the catalyst for "a model
behavioral health system based on best practices and well established, proven
In her January 13 State of the State address before the
Arizona legislature, Gov. Brewer publicly recognized Chick as an "instrumental
leader who showed unmatched passion and commitment to improving the lives of
people with mental illness." She went on to "especially commend Charles
Arnold and all those involved who worked diligently,
collaboratively and in good faith to make this agreement possible."
Chick filed the suit in his then-capacity as the Maricopa
County Public Fiduciary. The suit claimed that the State of Arizona failed to
fund a comprehensive mental health system as required by state law. In 1989, the
Arizona Supreme Court affirmed that the State had indeed violated its statutory
duty. Ongoing compliance with the lawsuit has resulted in additional annual
state funding in the hundreds of millions of dollars for the benefit of
seriously mentally ill Arizonans in Maricopa County.
In commenting on the settlement, Chick stated, “We in
Arizona can now look forward to a renewed focus on those community services most
critically needed to assist in recovery: supported housing, supported employment
and an enhanced crisis service system. ... Citizens of Arizona now have much
reason for optimism."
A Certified Specialist in Estate and Trust Law (Arizona
Board of Legal Specialization), Chick chairs the Maricopa County Superior
Court Task Force on Mental Health Services and is a past chair of the State
Bar of Arizona's Elder Law and Mental Health Section.
He authored the State Bar's "Arizona Resource Guide for
Families of Persons With Serious Mental Illness" (2001) and co-authored the
"Arizona Probate Code Manual" (1999). He is a long-time board member of the
Mental Health Association of Maricopa County, PLAN of Arizona, Inc., and
Mentally Ill Kids in Distress.