State Supreme Court Dismisses Parents' Claim for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress After Son's Suicide
At the end of last month, the opinion and decision in a negligent infliction of emotional distress in relation to medical malpractice claim was released by the Supreme Court in Connecticut. Like New Mexico, Connecticut allows claims of negligent infliction of emotional distress to be brought in certain very limited circumstances.
This case revolves around a tragic incident when a family called the police department because their son was expressing suicidal ideations. Their son was detained by police and taken to the emergency room for a psychiatric evaluation. The medical staff at the hospital evaluated the son and left a message with his parents to notify them that the son would be released because he was not a danger to himself. The son left the hospital and proceeded to find an electrical cord and hang himself outside his parent's home. Unfortunately, the attempts to resuscitate him were futile, and he subsequently suffered a brain injury and was taken off life support.
The family brought a claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress and a medical malpractice claim. The court held that in certain very limited situations a bystander claim may be brought in a medical malpractice action. However, they also held that the family did not suffer severe and debilitating emotional distress, which is the requirement in negligent infliction of emotional distress claims. The Supreme Court subsequently affirmed the lower court's finding.