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Man Kills Mother, Father Sues for Malpractice

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. | Last updated on

The father of a man who stabbed his own mother has been permitted to sue his son's psychiatrist for stopping his son's medication. Victor Bruscato was mentally ill when he stabbed his mother to death in 2002.

In 2001, Bruscato was assigned to Dr. Derek Johnson O'Brien, a psychiatrist at the community health center in Gwinnett County, Georgia. There, O'Brien prescribed Bruscato powerful anti-psychotic medication that helped control his violent impulses, reports the AP.

O'Brien discontinued the medication in May 2002. He wanted to ensure that Bruscato wasn't going to develop a dangerous syndrome from the drugs, the AP reports.

Bruscato then started having nightmares, and claimed that the devil was appearing before him to tell him to commit bad deeds, according to the AP. In August 2002, he attacked his own mother in the head with a battery charger. He then stabbed her 72 times, killing her.

Bruscato was found incompetent and unable to stand trial. He was committed to a state mental institution shortly thereafter, the AP reports.

Bruscato's father, Vito Bruscato, later filed a medical malpractice suit against O'Brien on behalf of his son. A county judge first threw the malpractice claim out of court, finding that public policy would prohibit someone from profiting from wrongdoings, such as killing.

An appeals court reversed this decision, finding that Vito Bruscato could proceed with the lawsuit. On Monday, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously agreed, the AP reports.

Will Victor Bruscato's medical malpractice case succeed? In order for the suit to be successful, a jury will likely have to find that the man stabbed his mother because he was taken off the medications. And, that O'Brien's actions deviated from the reasonable standard of care other psychiatrists would have administered under similar circumstances.

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