The Minnesota Court of Appeals has remanded the wrongful death medical malpractice lawsuit filed against Park Nicollet Health Systems by the Short family’s next of kin back to Hennepin County District Court.
The opinion issued Feb. 16 reverses the district court’s summary judgment dismissal of the lawsuit filed after the September 2015 deaths of Brian Short by suicide, and his wife Karen and children Madison, Cole and Brooklyn by familicide. The family was found dead by gunshot wounds at their Greenwood home after a welfare check by law enforcement.
David Smits, as trustee for the next of kin, appealed after the district court determined that Park Nicollet, as Brian Short’s mental health provided, owed no duty to Short or his family members.
The opinion states: “Because Short’s mental-health provider owed a duty of care to him as a matter of law, and because genuine issues of material fact exist as to whether Short’s family members were foreseeable plaintiffs and whether familicide was a risk foreseeable to the mental-health provider, dismissal of the action at summary judgment was improper. We therefore reverse and remand for trial.”
The order outlines the mental health care visits Brian Short made to Park Nicollet providers for treatment of anxiety and depression in the three months leading to the family’s deaths. The lawsuit alleges that the health providers failed to properly assess, evaluate and treat Short for severe depression, failed to inform him and his family of the risks and benefits of the medications he was prescribed and failed to properly monitor his response to the medications.
– Compiled by Gretchen Schlosser