Following a six-day trial in Pottawattamie County, Partners Michael L. Storey and Patrick G. Vipond secured a defense verdict for a jail psychiatrist in a lawsuit seeking more than $30 million in damages.
The plaintiff was arrested on July 24, 2018, and remained in the Pottawattamie County jail until the night of August 2, 2018. On that night, the jail released him from custody and sent him via ambulance to the emergency department. Hours later, in the early morning hours of August 3, 2018, a vascular surgeon amputated both of the plaintiff’s legs above the knee. Plaintiffs sued the jail’s nurses, the medical director and the psychiatrist. The jail nurses and the medical director of the jail settled for significant sums of money before trial. The only defendant at trial was the jail psychiatrist.
At trial, the plaintiff alleged that the jail psychiatrist failed to hospitalize the plaintiff for his mental illness and that the failure to do so resulted in the amputations. The plaintiff had been seen twice by the defendant, who worked as a part-time jail psychiatrist, for acute unspecified psychosis. In between those two visits, the plaintiff refused to take his prescribed anti-psychotic medication. When notified of the refusals, the defendant psychiatrist petitioned the Pottawattamie County District Court to hospitalize the plaintiff and order involuntary injections of the anti-psychotic medication. Before the court hearing could take place, the plaintiff’s physical health declined. On August 2, 2018 and into the morning hours of August 3, 2018, the plaintiff developed a rapid or acute onset of blood clotting in his appendages, leading to the double amputation of his legs.
The defendant psychiatrist, represented by partners Michael L. Storey and Patrick G. Vipond, denied any wrongdoing at trial and denied that any of his alleged acts or omissions resulted in the formation of the blood clots. After six days of trial and just two hours of deliberation, the jury agreed that the jail psychiatrist met the standard of care for psychiatrists and found in his favor.