State sued over patient's suicide

COEUR d'ALENE - The family of a Kootenai County man who doctors found to be mentally ill and later committed suicide while in involuntary custody at a state hospital have filed a lawsuit against the state of Idaho.

Steven L. Ferry Sr. committed suicide by electrocuting himself at State Hospital North, in Orofino, on Sept. 18, 2011.

The lawsuit in 1st District Court was filed by Steven Ferry Jr., also a Kootenai County resident, and the estate of Steven L. Ferry Sr. through attorney Ian Smith, of Coeur d'Alene. Smith declined to comment on Thursday.

The lawsuit said the Ferry family is demanding a jury trial and damages in excess of $10,000.

In August 2011, the state filed an application for involuntary care and treatment of Steven Ferry Sr. after he had attempted suicide.

Two designated examiners found Ferry to be mentally ill, likely to injure himself, and unable to make informed decisions about treatment, according to the lawsuit filed Sept. 12. One examiner also said he was gravely disabled.

Ferry was initially treated at Kootenai Health, then known as Kootenai Medical Center. He was transferred to State Hospital North.

While involuntarily held, he was treated for severe depression, mood disorder, mixed personality disorder and suicide ideation.

The lawsuit said the defendants allegedly failed to provide Ferry with a safe environment and didn't adequately supervise him. The alleged actions and failures by the state "resulted in the wrongful death of Ferry," the lawsuit said.

State Hospital North is a 55-bed psychiatric hospital that provides treatment for adults, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

A spokesman for Health and Welfare declined to comment, as did a representative from the Idaho Attorney General's office.

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