Families sue for $8.5M after two men commit suicide at Hamilton hospital

The families of Joel Verge and Brandon Taylor launch negligence lawsuit against St. Joseph's Health system. Sara Cain, 900 CHML

HAMILTON – Family members of two men who took their own lives while allegedly under supervision at a Hamilton hospital are suing the facility’s parent organization.

The families of Brandon Taylor and Joel Verge have each filed $8.5 million negligence suits against St. Joseph’s Health System.

The lawyer representing the Taylor and Verge families alleges the hospital was aware both men were at risk of trying to take their own lives and had instructed that they be supervised.

Michael Smitiuch says Taylor, who was 29, was admitted to hospital after a drug and alcohol overdose, and was supposed to be checked on every 15 minutes because he was deemed to be at risk of self-harm.

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He says Verge, 42, was supposed to be under constant supervision following a previous attempt to take his own life.

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But Smitiuch alleges that the supervision plans failed, and both men killed themselves while left alone with items they were allowed to have in their rooms.

Carl Verge said since his son’s death there has been depression, anxiety, the loss of sleep and almost his marriage. This lawsuit, he said, is a way to raise awareness, get answers and find closure.

“Something has got to be fixed. Somebody’s got to be held accountable. This is not just one or two isolated cases. This is… almost an epidemic,” he said on Monday.

In a statement, David Higgins, the president of St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, said that an independent review of each case was carried out complete with recommendations that are now being implemented.

“We are deeply saddened by the pain and loss suffered by the families of Joel Verge and Brandon Taylor,” Higgins said.

The families said they are dissatisfied with the external review, citing a lack of consultation. They are calling for an inquest into the deaths.

St. Joseph’s has not yet filed a statement of defence.


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LISTEN: Lawyer Michael Smitiuch joins The Morning Show on AM640

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