Plaintiff was a middle-aged gay man who’s had treatment with defendant for depression and significant alcohol and prescription medicine abuse. During the treatment, the defendant’s psychiatrist allegedly took a South American natural drug which caused him to become paranoid and psychotic. As a result of paranoid delusions, the psychiatrist believed that he had killed a man and burdened his patient, plaintiff, with this information. Terrified, plaintiff went to the police who performed an investigation scanning northern California, southern California, and Hawaii. From the time of this investigation, plaintiff felt that his life was at risk since he was the “only one” who knew the defendant had killed a man. At the time, he did not realize that defendant as delusional. After a long investigation, it turned out that defendant did not in fact kill a man and was suffering from delusions brought on by the hallucinogenic drug.
The defense claimed that the psychiatrist was engaging in “psychodrama” to startle plaintiff out of his pattern of substance abuse. They further claimed that any damages suffered by plaintiff came from his preexisting depression and substance abuse as opposed to any wrongful acts of the psychiatrist.
The law offices of Winer, McKenna & Burritt, LLP, was able to establish that the standard of care would have required defendant psychiatrist to not burden his patient with information regarding his delusional or non-delusional belief that he killed somebody and to have gotten treatment of his own. That plaintiff was in fact terrified by the psychiatrist’s revelations and suffered from a post-traumatic stress disorder which significantly impaired his ability to function.
RESULT: $250,000 settlement on behalf of plaintiff