How terrible for the family of Beverly Gross, to actually receive justice following her wrongful death only to have it whisked away by the Texas Supreme Court.
On February 1, the Texas Supreme Court reversed both the trial court and the court of appeals in the wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of Beverly Gross. Beverly committed suicide three days after a psychiatrist declined to involuntarily hospitalize her for psychiatric care.
Both the trial jury and the court of appeals found in favor of Beverly’s family, finding that the psychiatrist committed medical negligence by deciding against hospitalization and ignoring her history of suicidal behavior and the recommendations of two other psychiatrists, one of whom had treated Beverly within the week prior to the decision to release her.
Beverly voluntarily admitted herself to a hospital after police found her disoriented and trying to hurt herself in her home when they responded to a call reporting gunshots from her house. When she asked to be released, her doctor successfully obtained a detention warrant to have her involuntarily admitted based on the continuing risk she would harm herself.
After her transfer to a state mental health facility, a staff psychiatrist named Diego Rodriguez-Escobar examined Beverly’s medical records and spoke with her for a total of 45 minutes. Based on these minimal sources of information, Rodriguez-Escobar decided she did not meet the requirements of involuntary hospitalization and released her. She committed suicide three days later, on her 53rd birthday.
The Texas Supreme Court did not hear oral arguments in this case, basing its decision solely on review of the written arguments submitted by Rodriquez-Escobar’s attorneys and the attorneys representing Beverly’s family. The Texas Supreme Court found that the Gross family’s psychiatric expert witness failed during the trial to present enough evidence that hospitalization would have lessened the chance Beverly would commit suicide.
This case presents an excellent, and chilling, example of how time-consuming and expensive wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuits are. You can read more about the history of the legal battle in this Austin Statesman article. A family that files a medical malpractice case will almost always experience years of legal battles, since hospitals and doctors are more than willing to fight back and have the resources to do so.
Families who have lost a loved one due to the negligence or malpractice of a medical malpractice should seek advice from experienced attorneys like the Texas medical malpractice team at the personal injury law firm of Bailey & Galyen. We encourage you to contact us for a no-obligation consultation if you or someone you know has questions about medical malpractice.