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Appeals court revives hospital lawsuit tied to 2015 Minnesota murder-suicide

The case will now be sent back to the Hennepin County District Court judge to be re-decided.
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ST PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Court of Appeals has reversed a Hennepin County District Court decision that dismissed a wrongful death lawsuit connected to the 2015 murder-suicide of a family of five.

In September of 2015, a Hennepin County medical examiner determined that 45-year-old Brian Short shot and killed his wife and three children at their Greenwood home, before turning the gun on himself and ending his own life.

According to the Associated Press, the family's legal representation later filed a lawsuit, alleging that Brian had sought help for mental illness on multiple occasions before killing himself and his family, and claimed that the Park Nicollet health system did not take his "severe, overwhelming and rapidly worsening" condition seriously enough.

Hennepin County District Court Judge Thomas Fraser dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that Park Nicollet did not have control or custody of Brian when he committed the act of violence.

However, on Tuesday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed and remanded that decision on the grounds that the lower Hennepin court erred in its rationale for dismissing the case.

"Park Nicollet owed a duty to Short as a matter of law as his healthcare provider that was not contingent on its custody or control of Short, and genuine issues of material fact exist as to whether Park Nicollet’s own conduct created a foreseeable risk to Short’s family members," Minnesota Court of Appeals Judge Jennifer Frisch stated in her decision. 

The case will now be sent back to the Hennepin County District Court judge to be re-decided.

A Park Nicollet spokesperson told the Associated Press that the company is "evaluating next steps."

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