Palm Beach Post
Psychiatrist sued over treatment of West Palm Beach woman who killed daughter, self
By Jane Musgrave
April 21, 2015
WEST PALM BEACH — A psychiatrist and a substance abuse counselor who were treating a West Palm Beach woman who killed herself and her 10-year-old daughter in September 2013 have been sued in connection with the deaths that stunned the community.
In the lawsuit filed last week in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, family members of Pamela and Alexandra Brooks blame Dr. Mark Agresti and counselor David Dashev for the murder-suicide.
The two “knew or should have known that Pamela Brooks was at risk of inflicting harm to herself, or to others,” according to the lawsuit filed by attorney Glenn Crickenberger, who works for the Stuart law firm of famed lawyer Willie Gary. “However, (they) failed to refer Pamela Brooks to a physician trained in the management of patients suffering from severe depression.”
Brooks, 48, was found dead in the living room of her Gregory Place home with 130 self-inflicted stab wounds. The body of her daughter was found in the kitchen with 30 stab wounds, the suit says. The deaths so shocked the community that the city’s then police chief took the unusual step of calling a press conference to announce they had been ruled a murder-suicide.
The grisly scene was discovered by Brooks’ ex-husband, Bradley, who broke into the home because he was concerned about his daughter, a King’s Academy student.
Dashev, former chief operations officer of the Mental Health Pavilion at what is now West Palm Hospital, declined comment on the suit. Agresti couldn’t be reached.
Pamela Brooks had been ordered to seek treatment from Agresti and Dashev by Circuit Judge Thomas Barkdull in May 2013 after Bradley Brooks filed an emergency request for custody of the couple’s daughter. The request came weeks after Pamela Brooks was arrested for driving under the influence.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Bradley Brooks and his ex-wife’s parents, Martin and Evelyn Hewson, details Pamela Brooks long struggle with alcohol abuse. It also indicates she initially responded to treatment by Agresti and Dashev. Treated daily with Antabuse, a drug designed to reduce cravings for alcohol, medical records in June and July 2013 showed she was “compliant and that her spirits were good,” the lawsuit says.
In August, the tenor of the notes changed. They indicate she had resumed drinking. Questions were raised about whether she needed residential care. “There was a discussion with Ms. Brooks regarding depression and the presence of suicidal ideation,” the suit says.
From Aug. 16 to Sept. 6, 2013, she was seen about 10 times by Agresti and Dashev. “During several of these visits Pamela described her overall condition as being characterized by anxiety and tension,” the suit states. “She described herself as feeling overwhelmed, angry and upset stemming from her DUI and all the changes in her life that the DUI has caused.” A day before her next appointment, she killed herself and her daughter.
The suit accuses Agresti and Dashev of negligence. It seeks an unspecified amount in damages.