Wisconsin State Supreme Court Prevents Parents Filing Medical Malpractice Lawsuits for Death of Adult Children
Nashua, NH (Law Firm Newswire) November 2, 2012 - Hope this never happens in New Hampshire. Imagine the injustice.
“The woman in this case, whose 32-year-old son died due to an overdose of prescription drugs, is looking for justice. Her son struggled with mental illness and non-prescription drugs. Ironically, it was a prescription drug, methadone, used to treat addictions, that killed him,” explained Charlie Donahue, a Nashua medical malpractice lawyer with offices in Keene, New Hampshire.
The young man died over a year ago and it was not until recently that his parents finally got some answers to what had happened to him. However, it took a subpoena and a medical examiner to eventually tell them how their son died. Now that they know, they considered a wrongful death lawsuit. However, they are barred from filing such a suit, as the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in an almost forgotten ruling of many years ago, prevents parents for filing medical negligence lawsuits for the death of adult children.
“To say that makes many people speechless, would be an understatement,” suggested Donahue. “You lose someone you love, your child, no matter what age they are, and your world falls apart, but you can’t sue to find justice because the court says so. In that state, parents of minors may file suits if their child died as a result of medical negligence, but if the child is an adult, parents are out of luck. So far, no one has succeeded in reversing this decision.”
The ability to sue for a wrongful death, as a result of a medical professional’s negligence, is not about money or about revenge. More often than not it is about the simple wish to find justice for a lost one, in the hopes that what happened to them, will not happen to another family. Oft times, it is the only way to get any kind of recognition for a deceased and to hold the doctor accountable for their actions.
The young man who died had Tourette’s syndrome, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder and an addiction to oxycodone. Realizing he needed help, he tried to kick his drug habit with methadone, but became addicted to it as well. He started hallucinating and manifesting schizophrenia-like symptoms. He resorted to a locked inpatient center to handle his addiction and had some success.
He eventually ended up in a downward spiral, seeking methadone once more to chase away his demons. He went to the hospital, with a variety of frightening symptoms, and was prescribed another drug that mimicked methadone, and also headed to the clinic the next day for his regular methadone. He was dead the next morning; ostensibly of methadone poisoning. “An overdose that could well have been prevented, if the medical professionals treating him had paid attention to what was going on. He was clearly showing signs of a methadone overdose, several days before his death,” Donahue stated.
If this case went to court in New Hampshire, would the family win? “More than likely they would,” responded Donahue, “as the noted cause of death in this case was aspiration pneumonia with widespread systemic infection, caused by depressed respiration brought on by methadone toxicity. It does not get much clearer than that. Imagine how you would feel if you lost your adult child as a result of medical negligence and could not file a medical negligence lawsuit. It defies all logic and compassion.” That is “not” justice the way Americans have come to expect in cases such as this.
Donahue Law Firm
143 West St.
Keene, NH 03431
Call: (603) 357-2363
Toll Free: (800) 498-4554
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