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Mother of Mentally Ill Woman Who Committed Suicide Files Negligence Suit against Mental-Health Provider and Doctor

Aug 15, 2005 | Loren Spellers was a 39-year-old woman with mental problems. The last thing she needed to hear from the doctor who was treating her, however, was that she would “never get better.”

Hearing that rather heartless assessment of her mental condition apparently proved too much for Loren and, after returning home from the clinic, she committed suicide by shooting herself.   

Last week, Ms. Speller’s mother filed a negligence law suit against the public health provider, ValueOptions, the Arizona Department of Health Services, and Dr. Russell Settle.

Loren Spellers had been a patient at the ValueOptions clinic where Dr. Settle is claimed to have told her during a November 2004 visit that she would "never get better."

The lawsuit, which was filed in Maricopa County, Arizona, Superior Court, claims Dr. Settle: "failed to act as a reasonable provider of behavioral health care."

A state investigation into the suicide faulted ValueOptions and Dr. Settle for not having a timely, state-mandated treatment plan for Ms. Spellers who and faced "significant" delays in getting services. Based on those conclusions, DHS issued a $100,000 sanction against ValueOptions.

Although no specific amount of damages was specified in the complaint, the “notice of claim” had sought $2.5 million. The attorney representing Ms. Speller’s mother stated: "If you're going to take responsibility for the most vulnerable group of people, then you better really, really do it. Because they've got no one else."

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