Madison - St. Clair Record

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Suit alleging negligent psychiatric care at trial in Judge Ruth's court

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Dec 6, 2016

A woman’s dispute with a psychiatrist over her husband’s suicide is at trial in Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth’s courtroom.

The trial began on Dec. 5.

Carmen Huff, as special administrator of the estate of Kelly Huff, is represented in the suit by Rocco A. Marrese of the Law Office of Rocco A. Marrese in Edwardsville.

Defendants Mark Freeman, MD., individually and as an agent of Illinois Associate in Psychiatry, and Illinois Associates in Psychiatry PC are represented in the suit by Richard Korn of Fox Galvin in St. Louis.

Carmen Huff was the wife of Kelly Huff, who is deceased. She filed her medical malpractice suit on Jan. 6, 2012.

Carmen Huff claims she has reason to believe the defendants provided psychiatric services for treatment of depression to Kelly Huff for many months before his untimely death by suicide. The decedent allegedly took his own life with a firearm on Feb. 17, 2011.

Carmen Huff alleges she has attempted to obtain the alleged psychiatric records regarding her husband from Freeman, who has not provided any records.

The plaintiff claims the defendants had the duty to provide psychiatric services “commensurate with the standard of care of a patient suffering from depression so as to prevent patients from injuring themselves or any other persons because of their psychiatric illnesses.”

She also alleges the defendants provided negligent care and treatment, failed to have written established guidelines for the treatment of patients such as the decedent and refuses to cooperate with the plaintiff’s request for medical records.

Huff seeks more than $50,000 for each of the six counts in the lawsuit.

The defendants answered the complaint in February 2012, “adamantly” denying that the plaintiff or her counsel ever requested the decedent’s records.

“Defendants are ready, willing and able to provide plaintiff with the psychiatric-related records generated by them during the course of their care and treatment of the decedent upon plaintiff’s execution of a HIPAA approved authorization for the release of those records,” their answer states.

In their affirmative defenses, the defendants also argue that Kelly Huff was contributory negligent by failing to follow the directions of his healthcare providers, failing to fully and completely communicate all relevant information concerning his psychiatric condition and recklessly causing injury to himself in a manner which could foreseeably lead to his own death.

They also allege Carmen Huff negligently failed to take reasonable measures to limit the decedent’s access to firearms when she knew or should have known of his potential to harm himself.

The defendants filed a counterclaim for contribution in June 2012. They maintain that they are not liable for the plaintiff’s allegations.

However, in the event that they should be found liable, they seek contribution against Carmen Huff.

They allege the plaintiff shared a home with the decedent and knew or should have known of his “long standing treatment for mental illness and was aware that he had made previous threats of self-harm.”

They also allege Carmen Huff assumed the duty of controlling all firearms in the home or eliminating the decedent’s access to the firearms.

In her response to the defendants’ counterclaim for contribution, Carmen Huff claims she did not know of any firearms in her home at the time of her husband’s death.

She also argues that she “made repeated calls to Dr. Mark Freeman’s office about Kelly Huff’s depressive behavior.”

Madison County Circuit Court case number 12-L-24

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