Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Intentional Act of Suicide

Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Intentional Act of Suicide

Article excerpt

At least one jurisdiction has held that the intentional act of suicide bars a plaintiff's recovery even where the trial court has found that the negligence of the health care providers proximately caused the suicide. In Champagne v. United States, 836 F.Supp. 684 (D. N.D. 1992), aff'd, 40 F.3d 946 (8th Cir. 1994), the court held a bench trial in a medical malpractice and wrongful death action arising from the suicide of an 18-year-old Native American, Ricky Champagne.

His estate filed suit against the United States under the Federal Torts Claim Act, alleging negligence by the Indian Health Service in the mental health care provided Ricky subsequent to an earlier suicide attempt. Expert testimony supported a finding of negligence by the IHS in the care it provided during hospitalization immediately following the first suicide attempt and in its discharge planning and follow-up care when Ricky returned home. The court further found that the IHS's negligence proximately caused the suicide.

Although the court refused to find that the intentional act of suicide constituted a superseding intervening cause of death that would bar recovery by the estate, it nevertheless considered the contributory fault of Ricky and his family on the ultimate issue of liability. …

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