New York Appellate Court Allows Negligent Treatment Of Depression Which Results In Suicide To Go Forward
In a recent case, the New York Second Department Appellate Department has reinstated a case seeking recovery of pre-death pain and suffering where the Defendant was negligent in treating the depression of a person who ultimately committed suicide. The Defendants argued that the plaintiff could not recover damages in a wrongful death action for any conscious pain and suffering the decedent may have experienced prior to her suicide and the Westchester Supreme Court agreed that the allegations failed to state a cause of action upon which relief could be granted.
The Appellate Court disagreed and held that the complaint which sought pre-death pain and suffering prior to the suicide stated a cause of action which established a cognizable legal theory sounding in professional malpractice and reversed the Westchester Supreme Court and reinstated the complaint. The Court reasoned that New York’s Estate Powers Trust Law 11-3.2(b), which is a survival statute, states that no cause of action for injury to a person is lost because of the death of the person in whose favor the cause of action existed. Therefore, a cause of action based on personal injuries which survives the death of the decedent is distinct from a cause of action to recover damages for wrongful death. The Court went on to recognize that the fact that the decedent’s depression was pre-existing does not preclude the plaintiff from attempting to prove her entitlement to damages on the theory that the decedent’s condition was exacerbated by the Defendants’ negligence.