Malpractice Case Against Social Worker and Behavioral Health Facility

Sean Ragland and Colleen Davis successfully defended a social worker and her employer, a behavioral health facility, at trial in a tragic suicide case. A fourteen-year-old girl from an extremely abusive home was residing at a residential treatment center. The girl was sent to the emergency room after a self-harming incident that the Estate characterized as a suicide attempt, and the social worker performed a mental health assessment. She recommended the patient return to the residential treatment center for continuation of the intensive treatment she was already receiving there. Twelve days later, and four days after a tense encounter with her mother, the patient died by suicide at the treatment center. The patient’s estate alleged that the social worker should have recommended inpatient treatment. The defendants argued that the assessment and recommendation were appropriate under the circumstances and that the patient’s death was likely triggered by some intervening event, such as the patient’s tense encounter with her abusive mother. The Estate sought nearly $2 million dollars in damages. The jury deliberated for just over one hour before returning a defense verdict.