Plaintiff v. Defendant Psychiatrist

Synopsis:

DBMS successfully defended a psychiatrist in a case involving a claim of inappropriate precautions for an in-patient psychiatric patient who had unwanted sexual relations with another psychiatric patient during an admission for acute psychosis and schizophrenia.

The plaintiff was a 34-year-old woman, married with children, who was hospitalized for acute, severe psychosis. One tangent of this condition is clinical hypersexuality. The plaintiff exhibited activity which was deemed “sexually acting out” the evening prior to the sexual event in question. The next day, the plaintiff was found in another patient’s room engaged in sexual intercourse with a male patient.

The plaintiff contended that due to her condition and the known sexually-acting-out episodes, the plaintiff required one-to-one observation (constant observation) to protect her from assault and/or unwanted sexual encounters. 

The defense contended that one-to-one observation interferes with treatment and aggravates conditions such as psychosis and schizophrenia.

The attorney representing the plaintiff did not identify an exact dollar amount he was seeking in his closing argument but relied upon his comments in jury selection that the award should be in “the millions of dollars.”

The jury, comprised of nine women and three men, found that the defendant’s psychiatric care was within accepted standards and returned a unanimous verdict for the defense.