Priscilla's Case

In 1988, after previous lawyers turned down the representation, the firm of Pinnola and Bomstein was asked by a grandmother to bring suit against a well-known local hospital regarding her adult daughter's death. Priscilla, the daughter, had a history of major depression and previous hospitalizations. She had left the army early because of her condition.

During a bout of depression, Priscilla admitted herself to the hospital and was put in a special ward. Hospital staff kept a "suicide watch" and were supposed to monitor her condition continuously. She was not supposed to have anything in her room that might be used to hurt herself. Despite these requirements, at some point a staff member failed to monitor her. During that time, Priscilla managed to hang herself and die.

The consequences were devastating for her young family. She had two small children at home who were now left in the care of their grandmother. When she died, there was no life insurance and the grandmother did not have the resources to handle raising her grandchildren by herself.

The case was challenging in many respects. Responsibility for Priscilla's death was not a cut-and-dried matter. The value of the suit also was a difficult issue because Priscilla had been on welfare at the time she died. She was, however, taking some courses at community college and had hoped that her future would look different. After lengthy negotiations, our firm was able to settle the case for $700,000 and money was put aside to take care of Priscilla's children for a long time.