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Tribunal Rules Evidence ‘Sufficient’ in Shin Case

By Jennifer Krishnan

EDITOR IN CHIEF

A Middlesex Superior Court medical malpractice tribunal ruled that there is enough evidence for a medical malpractice trial in the case of five MIT Medical professionals, defendants in the suit filed by the parents of Elizabeth H. Shin ’02.

“There is sufficient evidence to raise a legitimate question as to liability appropriate for judicial inquiry” in all five cases, the decision, signed by Justice Raymond J. Brassard, said.

The Shin family alleges that MIT Medical mental health doctors Linda L. Cunningham, Peter Reich, Kristine Girard, Lili Gottfried, and Anthony Van Niel acted negligently and failed to provide an adequate standard of care, ultimately leading to Shin’s suicide in April 2000.

“What it means is that the claims that have been brought by the Shins against the individual medical professionals at MIT have legal sufficiency,” said Shin family attorney David A. DeLuca.

Shins have ‘sufficient evidence’

The goal of the tribunal was “to make sure there’s enough evidence to go forward with the case,” DeLuca said.

If the tribunal had found in favor of the defendants, the Shins would be allowed to pursue the medical malpractice claims only after paying $6,000 per claim. This fee would be refundable if the case were ultimately successful, and payable to the defendant for attorney fees and witness fees if the ultimate decision were for the defendant.

“The threshold [for a ruling in favor of the plaintiff] is low,” DeLuca said. “You don’t have to prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The plaintiff’s burden is to “provide evidence that satisfies this panel that there’s evidence to support these claims,” he added.

However, DeLuca said the ruling was significant because it means the Shins’ “claims have been determined by disinterested parties to have weight and credibility as a far as the malpractice claims are concerned.”

The tribunal was composed of a judge, a practicing psychiatrist, and an attorney.

Deluca said an actual trial was “probably months away.”

MIT lawyers could not be reached for comment.