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State of Wisconsin to pay $562,000, wrongful death suit dismissed

A Wisconsin judge dismissed a wrongful death suit involving a Dane County hospital after a settlement was reached. According to reports, the suit was filed after a 27-year-old man committed suicide by strangling himself with a sock in 2010. The man was reportedly being held in a seclusion room at Mendota Mental Health Institute and was being checked on by staff every 15 minutes. The man's death, however, was allegedly not noticed for 18 hours.

The 27-year-old was reportedly schizophrenic and was originally brought to the health care facility in April 2009. He was moved to seclusion after fighting with members of the staff in March 2010. According to reports, the man became restless after that, showing signs of anxiety and knocking on his door.

The hospital staff discovered the man's death on April 8, 2010. Staff members who had been doing the checks every 15 minutes apparently thought the man was just sleeping. The hospital was cited for not taking "reasonable steps to ensure the physical safety of all patients" by the Wisconsin Division of Quality Assurance. The hospital has agreed to improve its training procedures on how staffers should perform security checks on patients.

According to reports, none of the Mendota staff members were disciplined, and the terms of the settlement state that the suit was settled to bring peace to the family of the man and avoid a trial. Wisconsin admits no liability in the case but will pay out $562,000 to the man's estate.

As shown here, these types of cases are often able to be resolved with a settlement so the surviving family can get some closure without having to go through the emotions involved in a trial. A personal injury attorney can help guide the family through that process to ensure that any resolution reached is fair and in their best interests.

Source: Star Tribune, "State to pay $562,000 to settle lawsuit after man commits suicide at Mendota Mental Hospital" No author given, Apr. 11, 2014

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