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Thursday, May 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Late Mom Lost for 9 Days in Hospital, Kids Say

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A suicidal woman who had been missing for 9 days was found dead in a hospital gown on the hospital's second-story landing after employees shrugged their shoulders over her disappearance, her children claim in Superior Court. They say the California Hospital Medical Center "repeatedly made contradictory and false assertions regarding the status of their mother, despite knowing that Dee Ann Haas was either dead or critically injured, and nowhere to be found."

Haas was found "lying in a crumpled heap" in a hospital gown on a second-story landing of the California Hospital Medical Center. No one had seen her for 9 days; she had been admitted 11 days earlier after attempting suicide, her children say.

Haas was placed under psychiatric observation and assigned a "sitter," who would stay with her to make sure she did not attempt suicide again. "Haas had a tearful and sad affect, with low self esteem," according to medical records, her children said.

Despite knowing she was bipolar, had a history of severe depression, had stopped taking antidepressants and had tried suicide 48 hours earlier, Dr. Viguen Movsesian "discontinued the 'sitter' and left Haas unattended and unrestrained," the family alleges.

A nurse who saw her get in an elevator allegedly was the last person who saw her alive.

Haas's daughter Natalie Wilkinson says she "repeatedly and anxiously made inquiries to Defendants California Hospital Medical Center and Catholic Healthcare West as to both the status and whereabouts of her mother."

The hospital filed a "noncritical" missing persons report with the Los Angeles Police Department, which was changed to critical after Wilkinson told the police that her mother was suicidal.

"The police expressed surprise that the hospital's missing persons report was originally noncritical," Wilkinson claims.

After Wilkinson and her brother Ryan Jackson were told conflicting stories about whether their mother could have left the hospital without being seen, Wilkinson insisted on further searches of the hospital grounds because, she claims, at that point the hospital was "done" looking for Haas.

About 4 days later, Haas's body was spotted by hospital security. She was "permitted by defendants" to leave her room, take the elevator, get on the roof through an access door with a broken alarm, scale the restraining wall and fall to her death, her children say.

Haas's three children seek damages for negligence, premises liability and emotional distress.

They are represented by Wendell Hall with Haight Brown & Bonesteel.

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