The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Did University of Colorado ‘Student Mental Health Service’ Director Blow It?

Posted on | July 29, 2012 | 56 Comments

It would probably be libelous to call somebody a “pill-peddling quack,” so you should try to avoid doing that:

Attorneys for 24-year-old James Holmes disclosed he was a “psychiatric patient” of Dr. Lynne Fenton in a court motion Friday, as they sought to discover the source of leaks to media outlets that he sent the psychiatrist a package containing a notebook with descriptions of an attack.
The revelation is the first indication that Holmes may have sought help before the rampage that killed 12 people and wounded 58. . . .
The University of Colorado’s website identified Fenton as the medical director of the school’s Student Mental Health Services. An online resume stated that she sees 10 to 15 graduate students a week for medication and psychotherapy, as well as 5 to 10 patients in her general practice as a psychiatrist. Schizophrenia was listed as one of her research interests.
Fenton worked for the U.S. Air Force in Texas as an acupuncturist before joining the University of Colorado in 2005.

Wait — an acupuncturist? The medical director of your university Student Mental Health Service is an acupuncturist? And she’s been disciplined by the Colorado Medical Board?

Records show Fenton has faced some trouble in her career. She was disciplined by  the Colorado Medical Board in 2004 for prescribing herself Xanax while her  mother was dying, state records show. She also was disciplined for prescribing  the sleep aid Ambien and the allergy medicine Claritin for her husband, and  painkillers for an employee who suffered from chronic headaches.

I’m sure Dr. Fenton is a nice person and I’m sure advocates of acupuncture will say it’s a perfectly legitimate and scientific type of treatment. The problem here is the liability incurred by the University of Colorado in hiring Dr. Fenton, now that one of her former patients is accused of shooting 70 people, 12 of whom died.

Acupuncture is . . . well, exotic would be one word for it.

If you’re a lawyer preparing to defend the university in a situation like this, do you want to have to explain acupuncture to a jury? Fairly or not, a lot of people hear “acupuncture” and classify it with herbal remedies, aromatherapy, and other such not-quite-standard holistic stuff.

It’s like finding out that your financial advisor is consulting tarot cards.

We can presume that most of the patients Dr. Fenton saw at the university Mental Health Service were routine stress-and-depression cases: The student with a Prozac prescription who needs a monthly appointment to get ber prescription re-filled, and so forth. Nothing major that would create a liability for the university if something goes wrong, and so anything problematic in Dr. Fenton’s background was no big deal — until one of her patients went on a murderous rampage. Now the university is a tort magnet, with the prospect of a jury being confronted with the question: Were university officials negligent in hiring as medical director of the Student Mental Health Service someone whom the plaintiffs’ attorneys will try to portray as a pill-peddling quack?

Of course, it’s unlikely any jury will ever hear such a case, because lawyers would advise the university to settle the claims out of court. And if this is how it plays out, then the taxpayers of Colorado will be on the hook for several million dollars’ worth of settlements.

Here’s the irony, though: The University of Colorado could not have expelled James Holmes for being a dangerous psycho, because that would have exposed the university to a claim that they were violating federal law by illegally discriminating against the mentally ill.

Society is being held hostage by the tort bar, so that plaintiffs’ lawyers are dictating the rules. There’s a word for this: crazy.


56 Responses to “Did University of Colorado ‘Student Mental Health Service’ Director Blow It?”

  1. Bob Belvedere
    July 30th, 2012 @ 7:58 am

    Well said, Adj.

    It’s at this point that I would like to give Bobby Jindal an Honorable Mention for being a Douche, however.

    His criticisms of the President showed that he suffers from a form of Hysteria.

  2. Bob Belvedere
    July 30th, 2012 @ 8:00 am

    And, if I’m correct, most of them never stop understanding the difference between Right and Wrong.

  3. Bob Belvedere
    July 30th, 2012 @ 8:04 am

    Let’s ask John Edwards – he’s not that busy these days from what I hear.

  4. Bob Belvedere
    July 30th, 2012 @ 8:38 am


    -The blame for this rest squarely on Holmes’s shoulders.

    -As for the difficultly in committing someone: perhaps it is time we revisited the mental health ‘reforms’ of the 1970’s and 1980’s.  This would only be worthwhile, however, if we reject Political Correctness.

  5. Dai Alanye
    July 30th, 2012 @ 10:14 am

    Mental illness doesn’t prevent anyone from knowing the difference between right and wrong or between what is legal and illegal unless the illness is so serious that delusions replace reality. After all, the large majority of them are able to function within society to some extent.

  6. Bob Belvedere
    July 30th, 2012 @ 10:19 am

    Thank you.