Lawsuits against treatment centers ordinarily must be filed in the state in which the treatment center operates. For example, Castlewood(1) operates in California, Alabama and Missouri. Therefore, depending on which treatment center you or your loved one attended, you would look to that state and its substantive law for recourse.
Let’s look at the State of Missouri as an example.
Missouri Statute, Section 516.105 provides:
All actions against physicians, hospitals, dentists, registered or licensed practical nurses, optometrists, podiatrists, pharmacists, chiropractors, professional physical therapists, and any other entity providing health care services and all employees of any of the foregoing acting in the course and scope of their employment, for damages for malpractice, negligence, error or mistake related to health care shall be brought within two years from the date of occurrence of the act of neglect complained of.
This section “clearly covers all claims brought by consumers of health care services for injuries resulting from improper, wrongful or careless acts or omissions on the part of a health care provider in the delivery of health care to the consumer.” M.M.H. v. J.P.C., 42 S.W.3d 16, 19 (Mo. App. 2001).
From this section we learn that any claim made against a treatment center based in Missouri needs to be filed within two years from the date of the conduct. This two years can be extended under certain limited circumstances.
An attorney may try to plead the case as a fraud case, or a fraudulent misrepresentation type case. For example, the attorney may allege that “Castlewood committed acts of fraud or fraudulent misrepresentation because it did not advise that IFS Therapy has never been scientifically proven as effective, that it did not advise its founder, Mark Schwartz has repeatedly been accused of sexually improprieties and that IFS has been debunked by most respected experts in the eating disorder industry.” But, courts would still look upon the case as a malpractice case.
[T]he ‘gravamen’ of the complaint or a fair reading of the complaint in its totality, determines [what type of cause of action is alleged] ….” Wages v. Young, 261 S.W.3d 711, 715 (Mo. App. 2008) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). “It is clear that an action that arises out of a doctor's malpractice or negligence in providing health care cannot avoid the application of section 516.105 merely because it is pled as a claim for fraud, misrepresentation, or breach of contract.” Breeden, 273 S.W.3d at 7.
As a medical malpractice case in Missouri, in order to proceed with a malpractice case, you must file an affidavit attesting to the viability of the case. Missouri Statute section 538.225 states that, when bringing a medical malpractice action against a health care provider, the plaintiff (or the plaintiff's attorney) must file an affidavit stating that he or she has obtained a written opinion of a "legally qualified health care provider" who has found that:
• in treating the patient (the plaintiff), the health care provider (the defendant) failed to provide the kind of treatment that a "reasonably prudent and careful health care provider would have under similar circumstances," and
• this failure caused or contributed to the harm alleged in the lawsuit.
Section 538.225 says that this affidavit must be filed within 90 days of the filing of the lawsuit (although if "good cause" is shown, an extension (of no more than an additional 90 days) may be granted.
Failure to file a proper and timely affidavit will likely result in the dismissal of your medical malpractice lawsuit. The doctor or counselor who gives this affidavit does not necessarily have to testify in the case. However, more often than not, they do.
With regard to damages, in 2015, Missouri statute section 538.201.1 took effect. This law says that in any medical malpractice lawsuit alleging damages caused by the provision of health care services (or the failure to provide health services), the plaintiff won't be able to recover more than $400,000 as compensation for non-economic losses.
Section 538.210.1 also increases the non-economic damages cap to $700,000 in medical malpractice cases involving "catastrophic personal injury" or wrongful death.
Non-economic damages are meant to compensate the plaintiff for the negative effects of medical malpractice that aren't easily calculable, and are more subjective from plaintiff to plaintiff. They include compensation for pain and suffering, stress and anxiety, loss of enjoyment of life, scarring and disfigurement, and similar losses caused by the defendant's malpractice.
I am aware that Castlewood has allegedly been trying to shake the mantle that it implants false memories, brainwashes their patients and there have been past instances of inappropriate sexual interaction between therapists and patients. However, its Clinical Director, Nicole Siegfried accepted a one year’s professional probation and supervised practice in Alabama for a repeated, inappropriate sexual relationship with a patient in November 2012 and yet, in April 2013, she was offered a job at Castlewood.
If you believe you were damaged by treatment you received at Castlewood, you can file complaints with the appropriate medical board of board of psychologists in that State. You may also consider filing a lawsuit either on your own behalf alone, or on behalf of others as well. Be sure to speak with an experienced attorney regarding your options. But the most important thing … continue to seek assistance and treatment. Do not give up on yourself.
(1) I am aware that Castlewood attempted to rebrand and changed its name to Alsana. For the purposes of this paper, I will continue to refer to them as Castlewood. 5830 Preston Fairways (t) 214.769.7810 Dallas, Texas 75252 firstname.lastname@example.org “
The Dunn Law Firm, 5830 Preston Fairways (t) 214.769.7810 Dallas, Texas 75252 email@example.com