Thursday, December 6, 2018

Suing the Psychiatrist

Do you remember Charles Murphy? You probably do not. He was a New York financier who killed himself some eighteen months ago. At the time the Wall Street Journal offered a portrait of his psyche and I dutifully offered some of my own remarks on this blog. Link here.

As happens in these cases I was wondering about the kind of psychiatric treatment he had been receiving. Apparently, we do not need to wonder anymore. Yesterday, Murphy’s widow filed suit against his psychiatrist.

The Daily Mail has the story:

The widow of a hedge fund executive whose fund lost $50 million in Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme is suing his psychiatrist for failing to prevent his suicide.

Annabella Murphy, 42, filed a lawsuit yesterday in Manhattan Supreme Court against NYU Langone Professor Aaron Metrikin, who treated her husband Charles Murphy in the nine months leading up to his death….

Father-of-four Murphy jumped from one of the top floors of a luxury New York hotel in March last year.

'It's a sad, unfortunate case,' her lawyer David Jaroslawicz told The New York Post. 'He certainly shouldn't have been in a non-institutionalized environment.'  

The suit says he previously talked of committing suicide by jumping from that same hotel, and that Dr. Metrikin failed to refer Murphy to specialist, which - it says - could have saved his life.

In the months before his death, Murphy - who was working at billionaire John Paulson's hedge fund Paulson & Co. - had been taking antidepressants.

He also appeared to have been making arrangements for after his suicide. Five weeks beforehand Murphy made his wife a co-owner of their Upper East Side townhouse, which would make the transfer easier after his death and prevent her having to go through probate.

In April this year, Annabella sold the seven story property for $28.5 million - $20 million less than the initial asking price.  

'Despite knowing that the decedent had attempted suicide in the past and had advised him of suicidal tendencies, [Metrikin] failed to provide proper medication or to hospitalize decedent,' The New York Post quoted the suit as saying.  

Annabella Murphy is seeking unspecified damages to cover funeral and burial costs as well as her husband's 'conscious pain and suffering', the Post reported.  

I am not aware of how often psychiatrists are sued for professional dereliction, but we will keep watch on this case.

5 comments:

whitney said...

Remember this?

https://www.theverge.com/2014/11/11/7193391/italy-judges-clear-geologists-manslaughter-laquila-earthquake-fear

Ares Olympus said...

I see an Anonymous voice commented in October at the 2017 article, claiming to have known him, blames his wife's need to keep up appearances.
https://stuartschneiderman.blogspot.com/2017/04/what-killed-charles-murphy.html

I don't think its fair to blame anyone, but a wife risks blaming herself especially if they argued about money. Maybe suing the psychiatrist is a way of trying to run from her bad conscience?

The psychiatrist surely is questioning signs he saw or missed, so he can do better next time, but I don't believe psychiatrist can be mind-readers. And if we give psychiatrists more incentive to take away patient's freedom on the smallest risks, that will have the effect of making them less truthful and there will be fewer signs to work from.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thanks for the reference to the comment on my earlier post.

Unknown said...

A psychiatrist cannot be held liable when the patient is not forth coming. They’re not mind readers. People are deceptive.

Unknown said...

Psychiatrist aren’t mind readers. Patients can be deceptive. Litigation in this case, tragic as it may be, is the obvious entitlement to cast blame for profit.