Premature Discharge of Psychiatric Patient Leads to Death and $2.4 Million Jury Verdict

Gregory Cotter was 42 years old and had a history of alcoholism and mental health problems. He was also diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. He had attempted suicide.

After attempting suicide, Cotter was admitted to St. Francis Hospital where Dr. Sadaf Ahsan, the former director of the psychiatry department, treated him. After a 5-day period, Cotter was released to the custody of a friend.

Cotter disappeared one day later. His body was found with deep stab wounds, and his death was ruled suicide. Cotter, who had been earning about $40,000 a year as a painter, was survived by his wife.

Cotter’s wife, individually, and on behalf of his estate filed a lawsuit against Dr. Sadaf and the hospital alleging premature discharge from the hospital and failure to document an adequate history, including Cotter’s history of attempted suicide or his bipolar disorder.

The family’s lawsuit also alleged that the defendants, Dr. Sadaf and St. Francis Hospital, chose not to follow Cotter’s treatment plan, which called for a discharge to a residential drug and alcohol treatment facility.

At the conclusion of the jury trial, the jury entered its verdict of $2,400,000, which included $2 million for Cotter’s pain and suffering. Post-trial motions are pending.

The attorney representing the Cotter family was Brian M. Brown. At the trial, the Cotter family engaged experts in economics and psychiatry while the defendants offered an expert in psychiatry.

Cotter v. Sadaf, No. 7995/11 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Dutchess County, Sept. 29, 2015).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling hospital negligence cases, medical malpractice cases, birth trauma injury cases and nursing home abuse cases for individuals and families who have been injured or killed by the negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas including, Oak Lawn, Chicago (Albany Park, Bridgeport, Goose Island, Old Town, Lincoln Park), Bensenville, Melrose Park and Brookfield, Ill.

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