DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN)– An Alabama mother is accusing staff at a diversion center of being negligent in their duties, ultimately leading to the death of her teenage daughter.

On Monday, Vanessa Johnson filed a lawsuit against Southeast Alabama Youth Services (SAYS), a Dothan facility contracted by the Alabama Department of Youth Services, stating they are responsible for the death of her daughter, Madison Johnson.

According to the lawsuit, the 15-year-old was placed in the custody of the diversion center in September until space could become available at a separate specialized residential behavioral health treatment facility.

Vanessa Johnson said that before her daughter was placed in the facility, she had been diagnosed with various mental health disorders and had even attempted suicide in August 2023.

The lawsuit claims that despite knowing about Madison Johnson’s mental health history and recent suicide attempt, the staff at SAYS failed to check on the teen every fifteen minutes, a requirement when placed on suicide watch, and she was left alone for over an hour.

On Saturday, September 30, Madison Johnson was found dead by suicide at the facility.

Madison tragically ended her life by hanging herself with a bedsheet, an outcome that was entirely foreseeable and preventable by SAYS.

Vanessa Johnson Lawsuit

Vanessa Johnson said the staff at the youth services facility is responsible for her daughter’s death due to negligence. She also blames the facility’s supervisors, stating they failed to train the staff to handle such situations.

Johnson requested a jury trial and unspecified damages be awarded.