Towards the end of May 2014 I sent the following email to a family friend:
From: Gagne, David
Subject: My Mom
Sent: May 20, 2014 1:32 PM PT
I hope that this email finds you well and you don’t think it inappropriate. I know we only barely know each other, but I need some legal advice and I don’t know where to turn at this point.
My mother died 646 days ago, and I have been told there is a two year statute of limitations in the State of Florida, so I am getting desperate.
I understand completely if this is not really in your wheelhouse, but I thought I would touch base with you in case you could at least point me to a colleague that may be able to help.
My mother was 63 when she died, and we were very close. She had some psychological issues that needed to be addressed, but she certainly didn’t deserve to die the way she did, alone and penniless and — literally — scared to death because of the incompetence and uncaring of a string of doctors and administrators.
I’ve been told repeatedly by lawyers in Florida that — because my mom was not married and had no descendants under the age of 25 — there is no financial incentive for anyone to investigate my mother’s death, and so nobody cares. I just cannot believe that it could be that simple.
I have documented hundreds of phone calls and email exchanges I had with nurses, doctors, and administrators before her death, and I have thousands of pages of medical records and charts and such. Almost everything (except the medical records) are archived at the website I have built for her at http://kathiegagne.com/
I know it’s a lot to ask, but if you can offer any assistance whatsoever I will be eternally grateful. And if you cannot, please know that I will not take it personally.
Thank you sincerely,
David Vincent Gagne
I got a reply about two hours later, asking me when mom died. I wrote:
From: Gagne, David
Subject: Re: My Mom
Sent: May 20, 2014 2:28 PM PT
My mom died on Sunday, August 12, 2012.
I just remembered that you had said you did some PI stuff, so I thought there was a chance you might know another attorney in the field who could help me.
If you look at the most recent post on the http://kathiegagne.com/ site you’ll see my biggest problem has been that since my sister and I are both over 25 and my mom wasn’t married, there doesn’t seem to be any *financial* incentive for a malpractice lawyer to help us.
I really, really appreciate anything you can do, and — again — I truly hope you don’t feel like it was inappropriate of me to ask.
Thanks so much,
David Vincent Gagne
This friend replied on Friday, May 30th and suggested I contact Mac McLeod of The McLeod Firm. I wrote with my thanks and said I would contact Mr. McLeod the following Monday.
I dreaded and feared reaching out to yet another law firm and getting the same response again. It took me almost a week to stop procrastinating and make the call, but I finally did on Friday, June 6th. Nobody answered the phone there, so I left a voice mail with my name and phone number.
On Monday, June 9th I received a call from Kristy, a paralegal at the firm. We spoke for about twenty-five minutes and I explained everything that had happened. Kristy told me that she would present the details to Mr. McLeod and get back to me as soon as she could.
I received this email the next day:
From: Bush, Kristy
To: Gagne, David
Subject: The McLeod Firm
Sent: June 10, 2014 8:51 AM ET
Please see the attached correspondence from Mr. McLeod. Thank you.
Attached was this letter:
Re: Potential Wrongful Death Claim regarding Kathie Gagne
Dear Mr. Gagne:
First, I want to express my condolences for the loss of your mother. I also want to thank you for showing trust and confidence in The McLeod Firm regarding the medical care and treatment (or lack thereof) she received and the circumstances regarding her death.
Based upon the information you provided and the realities of Florida law, I do not believe this firm should pursue a claim on your behalf. The likelihood of significant success for you indicates it would not be a good decision for our firm. Under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, a claim for wrongful death based upon medical negligence must be pursued by a surviving spouse or minor child. Obviously, the law protects healthcare providers in this circumstance.
If you wish to report the events surrounding your mother’s death, I would encourage you to contact Florida’s Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA). The complaint can be reported via phone at (888) 419-3456 or via the internet at http://apps.ahca.myflorida.com/hcfc
Mr. Gagne, please do not take this as a comment about you or your mother. My decision is not a comment about whether you have a cause of action. I simply do not think it would be wise for us to pursue a claim. Another attorney may disagree with my analysis and believe this claim is appropriate to pursue. The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim based on medical negligence claim is two years from the date of death. Should you wish to pursue these issues further, you should seek the services of another lawyer immediately. I regret we cannot assist you further and wish you the best in the future.
Robert L. McLeod II