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Halloway family sues NLCMH, psychologist, over GT jail suicide

The Record-Eagle - 1/12/2020

Jan. 12--TRAVERSE CITY -- The mother of Alan Halloway, a man who died by suicide in the Grand Traverse County Jail in 2017, has filed a multiple-count civil lawsuit against Northern Lakes Community Mental Health and one of the organization's psychologists.

The suit alleges negligence by Joseph Barkman, an employee of NLCMH, who interviewed Halloway in the jail after he was arrested and threatened to harm himself, according to court documents.

Unnamed jail staff placed Halloway on suicide watch July 18. Barkman canceled it July 19 and Halloway hung himself with jail-issued socks two days later.

"I don't like to try my cases in the press but we think the proofs are there," said Louis G. Corey, a Royal-Oak based attorney representing Teresa Halloway. "The complaint is not just a one-sentence complaint, it's very detailed."

Northern Lakes Community Mental Health Chief Executive Officer, Karl Kovacs, declined comment, stating the case's status as pending litigation.

No attorney had been designated to represent NLCMH or Barkman as of Friday morning, Kovacs said.

Corey confirmed he had not received any communication from NLCMH, Kovacs, Barkman or anyone hired to represent them.

Alan Halloway, 41, was arrested July 18, 2017, following a shooting at Bay Hill Apartments where one man was wounded. There was a subsequent car chase and a brief standoff at Halloway's home in Grawn, the Record-Eagle previously reported.

After negotiators convinced Halloway to surrender, he said he'd taken 20 Valium pills and "made statements during arrest about harming himself," according to court documents. He was examined at Munson Medical Center and released before being housed at the jail on a $1 million bond.

The civil complaint requests a jury trial, and includes an affidavit from a Colorado psychotherapist hired by Corey to review Halloway's medical records and offer an opinion on whether he received "applicable standards of care" from Barkman.

C. Cayli Collins' affidavit states five ways she said Barkman failed to adhere to the standards of care, from lack of a thorough assessment to failure to consider Halloway's mental health history, to failing to provide a follow-up treatment plan.

"As a result of the standard of care violations and breaches set forth above," C. Cayli Collins states in her affidavit, "Mr. Halloway committed suicide."

Count one of the complaint filed by Corey on Dec. 27 alleges Barkman breached his duty by not appropriately assessing Alan Halloway for suicide risk, by not creating a treatment plan and by not limiting Halloway's access to lethal means or documenting his decision-making process.

Counts two and three allege Barkman was acting as an employee of NLCMH, making the organization vicariously liable for Halloway's death.

Corey said he has no plans at this time to file suit against any other parties and the timing of the lawsuit fulfilled requirements of Michigan law.

Notice of intent was filed in June 2019, Collins' affidavit was filed in July 2019, and a six-month wait is required between notice of intent and filing the actual complaint, Corey said.

More than 51 suicide attempts -- two of them confirmed -- took place at the jail from 2011 to 2018, the Record-Eagle previously reported.

One was Marilyn Palmer, who died by suicide in the jail Feb. 28, 2018. Her family signed a $20,000 settlement agreement with Grand Traverse County in October 2019 after filing a lawsuit.

Halloway's family settled a lawsuit it filed against the county for $125,000 in 2019. The lawsuit alleged that jail staff failed to follow policy and procedure.

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