Virginia: Medical Malpractice – a Lawyer’s CSH

Virginia: Medical Malpractice – a Lawyer’s CSH

On July 19, 2018, Senior United States District Judge Morgan awarded a mentally-ill patient at Central State Hospital (“CSH”) $385,000.00, plus pre-judgment interest and attorney fees to be determined, against a doctor and a nurse responsible for his care for multiple violations of his Constitutional rights. The 42 U.S.C. §1983 civil rights case is Farabee v. Yaratha, et al., No. 2:14cv118 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division.

Significantly, Farabee rejected the defense’s pervasive theme that “the Court should ipso facto believe doctors over mental health patients”. Id. at 20. Specifically, the Court found testimony of Dr. Maghakian’s “not credible”. Id. at 11. Also, “the Court FINDS Plaintiff [patient] to be a credible and very intelligent witness”. Id. at 12. Additionally, “Nurse Barnette falsely reported that Plaintiff had kicked her.” Id. at 13. Further, the “Court FINDS that [patient] Evans’ testimony was credible.” Id. at 17. Finally, “Dr. Yarantha’s testimony was inconsistent and conflicting in many important respects, and the Court therefore FINDS that Dr. Yaratha’s testimony was not credible. To the contrary, as stated above, the Court FINDS Evans’ testimony and Plaintiff’s testimony were credible and that a significant amount of circumstantial evidence was admitted at trial which corroborates their testimony.” Id. at 18.

Re Count I, the Farabee “Court FINDS that this decision by Dr. Yaratha [to deny the mentally-ill patient the Dialectical Behavior Treatment (“DBT”) recommended and requested] is not within the realm of professional judgment and thus violated Plaintiff’s constitutional right to the provision of adequate medical care, and that he was damaged as a result.” Id. at 22. $100,000.00 compensatory damages, plus pre-judgment interest from July 28, 2015, were awarded. Id. at 26, 30. Further, injunctive relief was awarded against Dr. Vauter, CSH’s Director, to provide the victim DBT treatment, with the Court maintaining supervisory jurisdiction to modify that award. Id. at 27.

Re Count III, the Farabee “Court FINDS that Nurse Barnette’s false report [of battery which predictably resulted in the mentally ill patient being put into physical restraints for 1 hour] violated Plaintiff’s constitutional right to freedom from restraint, and that Plaintiff was damaged as a result.” Id. at 24. $25,000.00 compensatory damages, with pre-judgment interest from November 21, 2013, plus $10,000.00 punitive damages, were awarded. Id. at 28, 30.

Re Count IV, the Farabee “Court FINDS that Dr. Yaratha has violated Plaintiff’s constitutional right to safe conditions in his Ward 8 [by failing to prevent Evans from attacking Plaintiff, intentionally providing Evans with greater access to Plaintiff, and encouraging Evans to attack Plaintiff by rewarding rather than punishing Evans],” and he was damaged thereby.” Id. at 25. $200,000.00 compensatory damages, with pre-judgment interest from July 25, 2015, plus $50,000.00 punitive damages, were awarded. Id. at 29-30.

“In sum, and in light of all the testimony at trial, it is clear that the mental health and criminal justice systems have failed Mr. Farabee,” concluded Judge Morgan in Farabee. “Had Plaintiff received DBT twenty (20) years ago, he probably would be living a very different life.”

Dr. McWilliams in 1998 “cautioned that commitment to a mental institution that might not provide DBT could leave Plaintiff without treatment and result in life-long institutionalization in mental hospitals and prisons. Dr. McWilliams predictions were prophetic.” Id. at 5.

Farabee observed that “the failure to provide Plaintiff with DBT has resulted in incalculable damage to Plaintiff” beginning decades ago. Id. at 26.