Here’s a conversation I sometimes have with reporters about the death of Dan Markingson. After we talk at length about the circumstances of Dan’s suicide – the commitment order, the coercion, the desperate warnings by Mary Weiss – the reporter eventually says something like this: "“Good God, this sounds unbelievably horrific. Does the University of Minnesota seriously believe that nothing went wrong here?”
The answer is, “Of course not.” Nobody
can look at the facts of this case and conclude in good conscience that
everything went exactly as it should have.
A psychotic young man in a drug study nearly decapitates himself in the
bathroom of a halfway house, and the university doesn’t even think the incident
is worth investigating? And then it files
a legal action against the dead man’s mother? What puzzles some reporters, I think, is the
fact that all this bullying and denial is coming from a university. We expect lies from corporations. We expect lies from the government. But many people still give universities the
benefit of the doubt.
This may be why reporters don’t ask a further question. “Why has the university fought this case so aggressively?”
Doctors settle malpractice cases all the time. Wrongdoing in a research study is not nearly as common, but when it happens, universities are rarely punished. Wouldn’t it have been in the interests of the
university simply to apologize and settle the lawsuit by Mary Weiss years ago?
Only if you believe Dan Markingson was the only victim. What if other research subjects have died or been injured? It doesn’t take a genius to read the warning
signs. There was the “corrective
action” by the Board of Social Work against Jean Kenney. There
were the mysterious “evaluation
to consent” forms and the lingering HIPAA
puzzle. There were all those false or misleading claims
of exoneration by the General Counsel.
There was the stonewalling
of all my Data Practices Act requests. And remember: the Department of Psychiatry has a documented history of
abuse in clinical trials. Maybe the university has fought back so aggressively simply because it knows what a close investigation would reveal.