$1,300,000 settlement for death of psychiatric patient.

The children of a woman who died while an in-patient at a psychiatric hospital will receive $1,300,000 from the hospital. The 41-year-old woman had a long history of mental illness, drug abuse, and prostitution charges, and was involuntarily admitted to the facility. She was medicated pursuant to a Rogers petition, and was largely nonverbal. A staff worker who was supposed to check on her every 15 minutes ignored his responsibilities, while falsely documenting that he had done the checks. The facility’s videotape showed that the worker had walked by her room on several occasions without performing the checks, and had delayed in notifying his supervisors after noticing a problem. Eventually, the woman was found unresponsive in her bed, and could not be resuscitated. Because the woman’s children had been removed from her custody by the Department of Social Services, much of the case was pursued on a theory of gross negligence to avoid a focus on her shortcomings as a parent.