Martino v. Illinois Masonic Med. Ctr., Ill.

Cook County Cir. Ct., No. 97 L 874, July 26, 1999.

Psychiatric Malpractice
Failure to Admit to Hospital

Martino, 43, suffered from bipolar disorder and was hospitalized for this condition several times over a 20-year period. After experiencing severe depression, she went to a hospital emergency room. There, she was examined by two residents and a psychiatrist, who declined to admit Martino to the hospital.

The next day, Martino hanged herself. She is survived by two adult brothers.

Martino's brothers and estate sued the hospital, alleging it wrongfully denied Martino admission based on her lack of insurance. Plaintiffs claimed that defendant's refusal to admit Martino had worsened her condition and precipitated her suicide. Plaintiffs also charged that the hospital had failed to contact Martino's brothers when they sent Martino home.

Plaintiffs presented recordings of phone conversations taken two hours before Martino entered the hospital. These revealed that she had been in an extremely disoriented state and had expressed a feeling that "her life was over."

Plaintiffs did not claim lost wages.

The jury awarded $13 million, including $5.6 million to each of Martino's brothers. the award was then reduced 50% for Martino's comparative negligence in committing suicide.