New York News

Widow Sues for Husbandís Preventable Suicide

The widow of a 30-year-old police officer who committed suicide on October 6, 2001 is suing for the preventable death of her young husband. Officer William F. Marhafer II was admitted to the psychiatric ward of the hospital four days prior to his death, after notifying his primary care psychologist that he was going to kill himself.

Over the next four days his counsel shifted to hospital appointed psychiatrist Sajuna Reddy-Kurrie, who determined on the fourth day that with the aid of outpatient therapy and familial support, the patient was suitable for discharge.

Reddy-Kurrie and Walter E. Niedzwiadek, director of the hospital's mental health unit, are now facing the burden of defending their decision to release Marhafer, who committed suicide within 24 hours of leaving the hospital.

The police officer's widow, Anna Marhafer is suing the doctors, the hospital and the hospital's mental health case manager, in a medical malpractice suit for her husband's death.

The doctors claim that they were not negligent in their care of the patient, and would not have discharged Marhafer had they had any suspicions regarding his safety. Reddy-Kurrie testified that she instructed the hospital's case manager, R.J. Stutzman, to notify the family of Marhafer's release. Stutzman claims that he spoke to both the patient's wife and his mother, who he allegedly would confide in regularly, prior to the patient's release.

“They were supportive,” Reddy-Kurrie commented regarding the family.

An attorney representing Anna Marhafer said however, that significant information was omitted from Marhafer's hospital record, including the fact that he had told his therapist of his suicide plans.

Anna Marhafer alleges that her husband never mentioned thoughts of suicide to her, though he tended to disclose more personal thoughts to his mother.

If the jury finds that the hospital did in fact act negligent in their care of the late William F. Marhafer II, damages will be awarded to his widow.

According to records, Marhafer was suspected of cooperating with FBI officials to perform an illegal search, which he feared would cost him his job and camaraderie at work. This may have led to the excessive stress and anxiety suffered by Marhafer.

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