Local News

Superior Court Rules Williamson's Doctor Must Pay

Posted June 11, 2004

— Wendell Williamson's former psychiatrist must pay him $500,000, according to the ruling of a Superior Court judge.

A jury found retired Doctor Myron Liptzin guilty last fall of medical malpractice. The jury awarded Wendell Williamson $500,000 based on his claims that he would not have gone on a shooting rampage if Liptzin had treated him properly.

Williamson, who shot and killed two people in downtown Chapel Hill in January 1995, was found not guilty by reason of insanity and is committed to Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh.

Wendell Williamson was moved from Broughton Hospital to the Forensic unit at Dorothea Dix last December because a judge considered him a danger to society.

Liptzin treated Williamson for six sessions for paranoid schizophrenia while Williamson was a UNC student in the spring of 1994.

In his lawsuit, Williamson claimed that during this time, Liptzin did not emphasize the seriousness of his disease, did not properly diagnose him, did not refer and introduce him to another doctor and told him he could stop taking the medication as long as he told someone. Williamson claimed Liptzin should have made certain he continued therapy after the doctor's retirement. In September 1998, a jury ruled Liptzin was negligent and ordered him to pay Williamson $500,000.

After the verdict, Liptzin filed the motions asking that Superior Court Judge James C. Spencer Jr. overturn the verdict or order a new trial. Spencer denied Liptzin's motion.

"We felt that there was contributory negligence (by Williamson) as a matter of law," said Liptzin's attorney, Bruce Berger. "And the alleged negligence eight months before this guy went out and killed people was not the proximate cause of his killing people."

Liptzin will appeal the case to the N.C. Court of Appeals, Berger said.

From staff and wire reports.

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