Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Man files suit over hospital suicide

Suffered injuries when jumper landed on him

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BRANDON -- He was struck and injured by a falling man who had jumped to his death in the Brandon hospital atrium.

Now, the man is suing the local health authority.

Rodney James McKnight filed a statement of claim Monday against the Prairie Mountain Regional Health Authority, which runs the Brandon Regional Health Centre.

The incident happened on July 8, 2011, when a man leaped from the fourth-floor balcony overlooking the atrium. He fell onto McKnight, a hospital patient who was seated in a wheelchair on the ground floor of the atrium.

McKnight argues in his lawsuit the health authority should have known there was a danger, because a woman had fallen to her death in the atrium less than a year before.

McKnight is seeking unspecified damages from the health authority. At the time of the incident, the hospital was run by the Brandon RHA, which later merged with the Parkland RHA and Assiniboine RHA to form the Prairie Mountain RHA.

The 31-year-old man who jumped had been a psychiatric patient at some point, but wasn't a hospital patient at the time of the incident. He died of his injuries four days later.

According to McKnight's 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 his 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 had to pay costs associated with his medication, for medical trips to specialists and for wheelchair repair, the lawsuit states.

McKnight argues the RHA should have ensured proper structural protective measures were in place to prevent people from jumping or falling from any of the balconies that overlook the atrium. The health authority 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.

Penny Gilson, CEO of the Prairie Mountain RHA, couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.

Since the incident, glass barriers have been installed above the railings on the third-, fourth-, and fifth-floor balconies that overlook the atrium.

ihitchen@brandonsun.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 19, 2012 A7

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