Paragraph 9 reads: "The records showed Mannion had previously experienced a violent reaction to Prozac, the anti-depressant Herrick prescribed, and noted the medication's label included a warning that it could increase the risk of suicide in adolescents, according to Fortier's complaint."
Psychiatrist, hospital sued for Danbury teen's suicide
Psychiatrist also named in suit stemming from 2005 death
By John Pirro
Updated: 06/06/2009 05:38:35 PM EDT
DANBURY — Katie Mannion idolized the rock singer Pink, earned good grades in middle school, and enjoyed singing and writing, according to her family and friends.
But the 14-year-old high school freshman who committed suicide in 2005 had a more troubled side, one her mother and grandmother lived with for years.
Mannion was 8 when a doctor put her on anti-psychotic drugs for the first time. At the age of 10, she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital.
The last few months of her life were marked by violent assaults on her mother and grandmother, suicide attempts and more hospital stays.
Mannion hung herself in the bathroom of her Cannonball Road home four years ago last week, but for the past two years lawyers have been battling in Danbury Superior Court over who was responsible for her death.
The case is scheduled for a jury trial in Danbury Superior Court in November, but documents in the lawsuit already fill five thick manila folders in the court clerks' office.
Karen Fortier, Katie's mother, is blaming psychiatrist Dr. Charles Herrick and Danbury Hospital, claiming they were negligent in discharging her daughter after a two-night stay in the hospital's crisis intervention unit a week before her death, according to the lawsuit.
Fortier's lawyers claim Herrick disregarded "grave concerns" expressed by two therapists and three social workers familiar with Mannion's history that she was in a "suicidal state" when he sent her home, and failed to obtain Mannion's medical records from other psychiatrists and hospitals where she'd been treated.
The records showed Mannion had previously experienced a violent reaction to Prozac, the anti-depressant Herrick prescribed, and noted the medication's label included a warning that it could increase the risk of suicide in adolescents, according to Fortier's complaint.
Attorneys representing Herrick and the hospital deny Fortier's claim.
Fortier, who declined to discuss the suit when contacted by a reporter, is being represented by the Stamford firm of Tooher, Wocl and Leydon. Telephone calls seeking comment from Nicholas Tocl weren't returned.
Herrick and the hospital are being defended by Danaher, Lagnese and Sacco of Hartford. Multiple attorneys from each firm are involved.
Danbury Hospital spokeswoman Andrea Rynn said state and federal privacy laws "prohibit us from commenting on any patient's care and we are unable to comment on any pending litigation."
The court papers chronicle a series of clashes between the parties on issues that range from allowing the defense access to Mannion's computer to the plaintiff's failure to produce Mannion's diary for the defense lawyers to review.
The documents also indicate Fortier's attorneys sought to examine the state Department of Children and Families' investigation of Mannion's death, but the agency — on the advice of the state Attorney General's office — refused, contending the report was confidential.
The files show Mannion had "a long psychiatric history," and that a doctors had diagnosed her with a range of illnesses, including attention deficit disorder, intermittent explosive disorder, bipolar disorder and depression, among others.
She spent several days at Four Winds Hospital in New York state in 2001 after an episode in which she tripped her mother, kicked her grandmother and threatened to kill her mother.
In March 2005 she was taken to Danbury Hospital after she swallowed 30 ibuprofen tablets. That April she was placed on probation for assaulting her mother, and in early May she was charged again after attacking Fortier with a telephone.
On May 25, after another violent outburst, Mannion was brought to Danbury Hospital, where she remained until May 27, when she was discharged.
Her grandmother found Mannion hanging from the shower head in the bathroom the morning of June 5, 2005.
Contact John Pirro
or at (203) 731-3342.