Families sue after two hospital suicides
Hamilton facilities did not provide adequate supervision, statements of claim allege
HAMILTON— Family members of two men who killed themselves while allegedly under supervision at hospitals in Hamilton are suing the facilities’ parent organization for negligence, claiming the deaths could have been prevented.
A lawyer representing the families alleged on Monday that staff at St. Joseph’s West 5th Campus and St. Joseph’s Charlton Campus knew that the men — Brandon Taylor, 29, and Joel Verge, 42 — were at risk of trying to commit suicide and had been instructed to supervise them.
“Hospitals are supposed to be safe havens for people in crisis,” Michael Smitiuch told a news conference. “Loved ones should be comfortable knowing that when their loved one is under constant or direct supervision that they’re safe.”
Each family is suing St. Joseph’s Health System for $8.5 million in damages. In their statements of claim filed in court late last Friday, the families say the hospitals didn’t provide adequate supervision to the men, who they allege were left alone for periods of time with items they used in their suicides.
“They provided, frankly, the very means to allow them to take their own lives,” Smitiuch alleged.
“Had the hospitals simply done the job they were supposed to do, they wouldn’t have died when they did or the way they did.”
David Higgins, president of the local division of St. Joseph’s Health System, said the hospital has already implemented many recommendations made in the external review, and it is committed to completing the rest. “We are deeply saddened by the pain and loss suffered by the families of Joel Verge and Brandon Taylor, Higgins said in a written statement. “Suicide is a tragedy and is profoundly distressing for all of those who are touched by it.”
He declined to comment on the specific allegations made in the lawsuits.
Taylor’s fiancée, Jennifer Smyth, said nothing has been the same since her partner’s death. “I’ve had trouble sleeping and I wake up with nightmares,” she said.
Verge’s dad, Carl Verge, also said his son’s death has been very hard on the family. “It’s something you know is never going to go away,” he said.