Losing a loved one under any circumstance is a tragedy. But when the death was caused by someone else's carelessness or negligence, family members and friends are also faced with questions and frustrations over whether the death could have been prevented.
The family of a California man, angry over his death, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the County of San Luis Obispo. The lawsuit was filed in early February of this year by the man's brother and sister. The lawsuit alleges that the county medical staff failed to adequately monitor their brother, giving him the opportunity to take his own life.
The man had been dealing with severe depression and after calling a county mental health help line, he was admitted into the county clinic. Medical professionals believed that he could be a danger to himself and evaluated him. He remained in their care; staff took away personal items that could be used to harm him but allowed him to continue wearing a hooded sweatshirt.
The clinic staff was supposed to monitor him while he was there to make sure he didn't try to hurt himself; the man had also been struggling with suicidal thoughts. During the night, two staffers checked in on him by looking through the window on his door with a flashlight. Not noticing anything out of the ordinary, the staff members continued on.
The man's family believes that the staff members should have noticed that he was lying on the bed with blood on his face, unmoving. He had used the cinch cord on his sweatshirt to take his own life.
The wrongful death lawsuit places liability on the county using the argument that given his mental condition, the staff should have checked on him more closely. If it is found that the county was negligent in monitoring his status, his family could seek compensation for their loss.
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