A patient who was hit and injured by a man who leaped to his death in the Brandon hospital atrium is suing the Prairie Mountain Health region.
The health region should have known there was a danger, the man argues in his statement of claim — a woman had fallen to her death in the atrium less than a year before.
"The plaintiff claims that the potential danger to the members of the public present in the atrium was completely forseeable," Rodney James McKnight argues in his lawsuit.
McKnight, a Brandon resident employed at Assiniboine Community College, filed his lawsuit in Court of Queen’s Bench on Monday.
He seeks unspecified damages from Prairie Mountain Health, which runs the Brandon Regional Health Centre.
At the time of the incident, however, the hospital was run by the Brandon Regional Health Authority, which later merged with the Parkland and Assiniboine RHAs to form the Prairie Mountain Health region.
As previously reported in the Brandon Sun, the event in question happened on July 8, 2011, when a man leaped from the fourth-floor balcony that overlooks the hospital atrium.
The man who jumped fell onto a hospital patient who was seated in a wheelchair on the ground floor of the atrium.
The 31-year-old man who jumped had been a psychiatric patient at some point, but wasn’t a hospital patient at the time. He died of his injuries four days later.
The patient in the wheelchair, who is identified in the lawsuit as McKnight, was injured.
According to his statement of claim, he suffered physical and mental injuries, and damage and loss to his personal property.
Specifically, he claims to have suffered a fractured leg, pressure sores and significant pain in the shoulders, back and right arm. He says he also suffered mental trauma.
"As a result of these injuries, the plaintiff required medical treatment and medication and suffered significant pain, inconvenience and anxiety, all of which affected the plaintiff’s ability to enjoy his normal lifestyle," the lawsuit states.
McKnight claims it also left him unable to perform his regular work duties.
In addition, he says that he had to pay costs associated with his medication, for medical trips to specialists and for wheelchair repair.
The regional health authority should have forseen the danger, the lawsuit argues. It points out that a woman had also fallen to her death from a balcony of the same atrium less than a year before.
As previously reported, on Dec. 31, 2010, a 51-year-old woman fell from the fourth floor to the atrium floor and died.
She was a patient at the Centre for Adult Psychiatry nearby and was on leave from the centre at the time.
It appears that she’d also jumped, as at the time police said no foul play was involved but it wasn’t an accident.
McKnight argues that, as of the time of the second incident, the RHA should have ensured that proper structural protective measures were in place to prevent people from jumping or falling from any of the balconies that overlook the atrium. It also should have properly monitored the balconies, warned the public of the possibility of people or objects falling from the balconies into the atrium and prevented the public from accessing the balconies.
Prairie Mountain Health CEO Penny Gilson couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Following the second incident, then Brandon Regional Health Authority CEO Brian Schoonbaert told the Brandon Sun that the first death was deemed an isolated incident, so initially structural changes to the hospital weren’t considered necessary.
However, since the incident that involved McKnight, glass barriers have been installed above the railings on the third, fourth, and fifth floor balconies that overlook the atrium.
As of Tuesday, no statement of defence had been filed by the health authority.
Once served with the lawsuit, the health authority has 20 days to file its statement of defence with the court.