This man was unjustly committed to an asylum for 15 years! When released, he sued the place and won!
In 1956, Philadelphia citizen Kenneth Donaldson traveled to Florida. His mission: to visit his elderly parents.
While with his parents, Donaldson commented that he believed one of his neighbors may be poisoning his food. In response, his father, knowing his son had a mental episode 13 years prior, petitioned a local court for a sanity hearing.
During the trial, despite receiving no legal counsel or representation, Donaldson was diagnosed by the state as a paranoid schizophrenic. He was escorted to a hospital in the Florida State mental health system, where he was kept with dangerous criminals.
During his time in the asylum, Donaldson refused any treatment, continually proclaimed his sanity, and worked toward being released.
After 15 years, Donaldson finally escaped the asylum’s clutches and filed a lawsuit against the hospital. His case eventually made it to the Supreme Court, where Donaldson won by unanimous vote.
The case, O’Connor v. Donaldson, led to further deinstitutionalization of mental asylums in the United States.