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Lawsuit Against Doctor For Patient’s Suicide

Suicide is a tragic way for a family to lose a loved one. Friends and family often feel guilty for not doing something, or not noticing the warning signs. In some cases, people close to the suicide victim feel responsible for the death. In Florida, a man believes that his wife’s doctor was responsible for her death, and is filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

Jacqueline Granicz, a 55-year-old woman in Sarasota County, Florida, loved her family, traveling, and art. She also had a history of depression. She was being treated by Dr. Joseph S. Chirillo, Jr. since 2005. In September of 2005, Dr. Chirillo switched Jacqueline from her antidepressant medication Prozac to a new drug, Effexor.

On October 8, 2008, Jacqueline called her doctor’s office reporting that she stopped taking her medication because she thought it was causing her side effects. She reported having a difficult time sleeping, requiring additional sleeping pills, being under mental stress, crying easily, and having gastrointestinal problems. She said she had not “felt right” for the past few months.

A medical assistant passed the message on to Dr. Chirillo, who decided to change Granicz’s antidepressant medication to Lexapro and make a referral for a gastroenterologist. The office called Granicz back and told her she could pick up samples of her new medication and prescription, but they did not make an appointment for her to see Dr. Chirillo.

Granicz came in to pick up the drugs, but did not see the doctor. The next day she was found dead. Robert Granicz, Jacqueline’s husband, found his wife’s body hanging in their garage. He was shocked, and so was Renee Granicz, one of the couple’s adult daughters. They said there was no indication she might be suicidal. Only days early, Renee had talked to her mother, suggesting she see the doctor because of how she was feeling.

Robert Granicz has filed a lawsuit against Dr. Chirillo, alleging he breached his duty of care to his patient, and as a result, his wife committed suicide. The trial court dismissed the case on summary judgment, finding that the doctor did not have a legal duty to prevent his patient’s suicide.

Mr. Granicz appealed, and the Second District Court agreed, reversing the lower court’s decision. The case eventually went to the Florida Supreme Court, who found in favor of Mr. Granicz, allowing the case to go forward. The court pointed out that Dr. Chirillo knew that patients who stopped taking Effexor abruptly had an increased suicide risk, and that stopping the Effexor was a contributing factor to Jacqueline’s suicide.

If a loved one has died as a result of negligent prescription treatment or medical treatment, the Gilman & Bedigian team is fully equipped to handle the complex process of filing a medical malpractice claim. Our staff, including a physician and attorneys with decades of litigation experience, will focus on getting you compensation, so you can focus on healing and moving forward. Please do not hesitate to contact us today for a free consultation.

About the Author

Charles GilmanCharles Gilman
Charles Gilman

As managing partner and co-founder of Gilman & Bedigian, it is my mission to help our clients recover and get their lives back on track. I strongly believe that every person who is injured by a wrongful act deserves compensation, and I will do my utmost to bring recompense to those who need and deserve it.


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