A father who murdered his two daughters and wife last year has filed a suit alleging improper mental health treatment in the Indiana County Common Pleas court against the Indiana Regional Medical Center.
Lewis Beatty was convicted of the murder of his two daughters and estranged wife. The three were murdered on June 1, 2012, but only one month earlier Mr. Beatty was expressing homicidal and suicidal thoughts at the Indiana Regional Medical Center.
In the month before the grisly murders, Mr. Beatty suffered severe emotional distress after discovering his estranged wife was now with another man. He visited the mental health clinic of the medical center to address his emotional state. While at the facility he expressed his desire to murder his wife and then kill himself to an attending nurse in the emergency room.
Mr. Beatty spent only about 26 minutes with a doctor at the facility. Doctor Tomacruz, the doctor who treated Beatty, wrote a prescription for anxiety medication and sent Mr. Beatty away only 40 minutes after having entered the clinic. Further evidence includes Mr. Beatty’s chart from the facility that identifies his expressed desire to kill both his wife and himself.
Mr. Beatty strangled his and his wife’s two daughters and slit their throats before driving to his wife’s workplace. From her workplace, he stalked her back to her home where he proceeded to strangle her and cut her throat as well. After setting fire to her home, he attempted suicide by slitting his wrists. First responders rescued and resuscitated Beatty from the burning East Mahoning Township home.
Mr. Beatty pleaded guilty for the three murders to avoid the death penalty. He is currently serving three consecutive life sentences without parole in Erie County state prison.
The civil suit against the medical center is seeking unspecified punitive damages for their alleged failings in two regards. Firstly, the argument is that the medical center should have warned Mrs. Beatty of the threats made about her by her husband. The second argument is that the center or doctor failed to meet their appropriate standard of care, consequently breaching a duty by not taking the man’s homicidal expressions more seriously.
It is further alleged that the attending physician, Dr. Tomacruz, failed to consider Mr. Beatty’s medical and social history (he had been visiting a psychiatrist for 6 months preceding his visit to the hospital) or the chart drawn up by hospital staff, which reinforced Mr. Beatty’s violent confessions. The suit charges that Beatty would have likely considered further psychiatric consultations if so ordered based on his own voluntary visit to the center, and such a consult could have identified whether he posed a threat.
The medical center and attending physician have denied any wrongdoing, citing a lack of obligation to inform unless specific threats are made by the individual seeking treatment. In this case, according to the defendants, there was no specific threat but just dangerous propensities. Furthermore, the defendant’s preliminary objections identify that, at maximum, the conduct would be classified as ordinary negligence, which does not generally permit an award of punitive damages.
The Indianapolis Law Firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse demonstrates experience and professionalism in pursuing justice for its clients. Civil suits often arise alongside criminal activities, and just because the government has pressed charges does not always mean those who have been harmed will receive the compensation they deserve. In cases of negligence, malpractice, or other injuries, you may have extensive medical costs, property costs, or long-term damage that may be entitled to compensation. If you or a loved one has been harmed by someone else’s conduct, we may be able to help – for a free confidential consultation, call (888) 532-7766 or contact us online.
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