Record Juvenile Hall suit settled

The Associated Press
Saturday April 13, 2002

SAN JOSE — Santa Clara County this week agreed to a settlement in the suit involving a San Jose youth whose 1998 attempted suicide left him unable to speak and confined to a hospital bed. 

Shane VanZerr tried to hang himself with a bed sheet when he was 14 while being held at the county Juvenile Hall for burglary and vandalism charges. When a guard discovered him, he had stopped breathing and suffered severe brain damage. 

After years of negotiations, the county agreed to pay his family $3.5 million. 

Shane’s mother, Shelly VanZerr-Terry, alleged in her lawsuit that the authorities failed to treat her son’s diagnosed mental illness adequately. She also claims that her son, who was on suicide watch at the facility, begged a counselor for help and threatened to kill himself the day he made his suicide attempt.