Families sue mental health center after two patients commit suicide

Families sue mental health center after two patients commit suicide | Insurance Business

Families sue mental health center after two patients commit suicide
The families of two inpatients at a Hamilton-based mental health specialty hospital are suing the healthcare center for negligence, claiming that the center did not do enough to prevent the two men from taking their own lives.

The estates of Joel Verge and Brandon Taylor filed suits in Hamilton court against St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. According to the families, the two inpatients were on “suicide watch” when they died.

Both families claim that the hospital provided or permitted their loved ones the means to take their own lives. They also said that they initially believed that their loved ones were in the right place to receive help for their specific mental concerns.

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In addition, they claim that the hospital exhibited “highhanded, shocking and reckless disregard and complete lack of care for the lives and safety of others.”

“That he wasn’t better supervised, it just tears your heart out,” Carl Verge, father of Joel, told CBC. “They created a situation of trust and an illusion of safety, which the plaintiffs relied on,” the Verge family lawsuit read.

CBC reported that Taylor had died in August 2016, while Verge passed away in November last year.

Each family is suing for $8.5 million in damages.

“They knew, or ought to have known, that similar incidents of suicide involving an unsafe environment and/or lack of supervision had occurred in the past and failed to take any appropriate steps to address same,” their lawsuits stated.

“St Joe’s failed both Brandon and Joel, failed the families, and allowed them both to have the opportunity and the means to take their own lives,” said Michael Smitiuch, the personal injury lawyer for both families, during a press conference earlier this week.

“We are deeply saddened by the pain and loss suffered by the families of Joel Verge and Brandon Taylor,” hospital president David Higgins said in a statement Monday. “There is no doubt that further research is critical to understand the complexities, risks and best treatments to prevent suicide.”

The hospital had commissioned an external review immediately following the suicides. Many of the recommendations made by the review were implemented, but the families of both victims remain unconvinced.

“We can see that they’re making some recommendations but, too little, too late,” Carl Verge said.

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