Can the plaintiff prove that the psychiatrist knew Holmes was a threat and didn’t contact the proper authorities as required? That’s what a judge or a jury may end up deciding.
Marlton, NJ (PRWEB) January 21, 2013
The widow of a man killed in last year’s mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater has filed a lawsuit against the alleged gunman’s psychiatrist and the university employing her. The suit, filed in Colorado District Court (1:2013cv00080) on behalf of Chantel Blunk, claims Dr. Lynne Fenton, a psychiatrist working at the University of Colorado who saw alleged shooter James Holmes as a patient, did not notify authorities when she believed Holmes to be a risk to community safety. Blunk’s husband Jonathan, 26-years-old, was among the 12 people who died when a masked gunman opened fire on a crowded theater in Aurora, Colorado this past July. Personal injury attorney Richard P. Console Jr. sees the potential for those outside the case to consider it a frivolous lawsuit. Console believes such an assertion couldn’t be further from the truth.
“While I don’t have intimate knowledge of the case, it has similar elements to other wrongful death claims in that the plaintiff is claiming harm was suffered as a result of the defendant’s negligence,” he said. “Can the plaintiff prove that the psychiatrist knew Holmes was a threat and didn’t contact the proper authorities as required? That’s what a judge or a jury may end up deciding. This could be the first of many lawsuits related to the events on that awful night.”
The lawsuit also names the University of Colorado as a defendant, according to court documents. The inclusion of the university in the suit may be due to Dr. Fenton contacting campus police because she was “so concerned” about comments Holmes – her patient – made during their therapy sessions, according to CNN Justice. Fenton reportedly would not elaborate on what bothered her about Holmes’ comments, and campus police did not follow up with Holmes directly. Court documents claim Dr. Fenton balked at the idea of placing Holmes on psychiatric hold for 72 hours when asked by police five weeks before the shooting. Console, a wrongful death lawyer in Philadelphia since 1994, wonders what more could have been done to prevent the deadly event that would follow a month later.
“The shooting in Colorado is a national tragedy,” he said. “It’s natural for those affected to wonder what steps could have been taken to get the alleged perpetrator the help he needed. If proper protocols weren’t followed, and carelessness or negligence is the cause, then those people should be held accountable. That’s why our civil justice system exists, to hold negligent parties responsible for the damage they cause and to deter that behavior in the future.”
Richard P. Console Jr. is the managing partner of Console & Hollawell P.C., a personal injury law firm. The firm’s attorneys have assisted more than 5,000 clients across Pennsylvania in obtaining compensation owed to them after the negligent actions of others have caused the death of one or more of their family members.