Thursday, November 8, 2012
Carmel on the Case: A Sister's Sorrow Lawsuit
Is a South Florida mental health hospital responsible for a patient's suicide? The man's heartbroken sister thinks so and has filed a lawsuit. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero has the special assignment report, A Sister's Sorrow.
He died within hours of being released from a mental health hospital.
Patricia Taime-Haslett: "It's been like a roller-coaster ride of emotion. A lot of anger. The anger has subsided, but I'm looking forward to justice for my brother."
Michael's sister Patricia says her brother was loving and kind. But he struggled with mental illness everything from nightmarish hallucinations to thoughts of suicide.
Patricia Taime-Haslett: "Well my brother was in the hospital under suicide watch for the total time he was there."
She says Michael had threatened to overdose on prescription pills after 13 days at Imperial Point Medical Center. He was released with no notice to his family. In less than 12 hours he was dead.
Patricia Taime-Haslett: "I really believe the system does not treat people who have mental health issues fairly. They're not respected as human beings."
She has filed a negligence lawsuit against the hospital and the psychiatrist who treated him.
According to the lawsuit, a barefoot "Michael Taime was placed in a taxi, clutching prescriptions for three drugs, money to pay for the drugs, and nothing more than his continued thoughts of suicide."
The action claims he filled the prescriptions and at 5:30 the next morning his body was discovered.
The medical examiner found he died of combined drug intoxication and ruled his death a suicide.
Peter Ticktin: "I mean how do you release somebody with a prescription for drugs and just let them go without any shoes on his feet, when you know that his mother is there, you know that his sister is there."
Attorney Peter Ticktin says Michael should not have been released at all, but certainly not without a plan for his safety.
Carmel Cafiero: "But the hospital has a different take on all this. When we first reported on Michael's death in 2010. Imperial Point told us he didn't show any intent to harm himself at the time of his release, and that Michael did not want his family told that he was being discharged."
Broward Health which operates Imperial Point, responded to the suit in a statement to 7News saying: "It would assign a special defense counsel to the case and, the defense will be vigorous for and on behalf of the district. It remains premature to comment further, at this time, in order to protect the rights of all of those affected by this lawsuit."
Patricia says this fight is not just about her brother.
Patricia Taime-Haslett: "I'm hoping that it will help other Michael's."