ECT Lawsuits

Jury Awards $635,000 in Shock Suit


In June 2005 in Columbia, South Carolina, a jury awarded $635,000 in a malpractice suit against a psychiatrist who referred a patient for electroshock treatment. The hospital had previously settled for a small amount and the doctor who administered the treatment was not found negligent. The plaintiff, Peggy Salters, is a former nurse who lost her memory for many years of her life, including her professional training and the raising of her children. Her cognitive abilities remain impaired for new learning as well. She was found permanently disabled by the shock treatment. Mrs. Salters viewed the jury award as a victory for all victims of electroshock. It is probably the first jury award in an electroshock malpractice case. The fact that the referring physician was found negligent may encourage greater caution on the part of physicians who refer their patients to “shock doctors” for treatment. Dr. Peter Breggin was the medical expert on behalf of Mrs. Salter’s. The attorney was Mark Hardee (phone 803 799 0905).




Mecta spECTrum ECT machine

Mecta spECTrum ECT machine

MECTA is first to pay for brain damage

For the first time, a product liability suit against a shock machine manufacturer has resulted in a successful settlement for the plaintiffs. The suit was brought by Imogene Rohovit of Iowa City, Iowa, and her daughters, alleging that Mrs. Rohovit, a single mother and former nurse, has been brain damaged and rendered unable to work by shocks inflicted by the MECTA Model D machine in 1989.     

MECTA Corp. and the Model D were also the subjects of the very first product liability lawsuit against a shock machine company in 1987. The suit claimed that MECTA’s machine was designed to produce and did routinely produce permanent memory and brain damage (not that the machine was defective in any way). A judge initially ruled against MECTA, which then offered a settlement of $105,000. The offer was rejected, but an appellate judge then ruled MECTA did not have to go to trial.

No shock machine has ever been pulled off the market, but even shock doctors now warn others not to use the powerful Model D. It was sold in the early 1980s and many are still used. However, self-proclaimed shock “expert” Harold Sackeim testified at trial that he does not use the Model D on human beings, but only on research animals. MECTA President Robin Nichol has testified that MECTA has never performed a single safety test on its machines.

MECTA insisted on a gag order, meaning that the exact amount of the settlement cannot be disclosed by the parties. It is believed to be higher than the first settlement offer, but the plaintiffs expect to see little of the money due to the high costs of bringing their case against Mrs. Rohovit’s doctors to trial. The trial lasted three weeks and the case was lost. Mrs. Rohovit’s attorney, Marc Humphrey of Des Moines, Iowa, cites recent attempts to limit or eliminate all types of product liability lawsuits as a factor in the settlement decision. But if these attempts fail, the Rohovit case could encourage other suits.

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