Hospital must pay extra $3 million in patient's stabbing death

Pacifica Hospital of the Valley is ordered to pay $3 million in punitive damages in patient's stabbing death

A Los Angeles jury decided this week that Pacifica Hospital of the Valley should pay $3 million in punitive damages to a man whose son was stabbed to death by a fellow psychiatric patient in 2012.

The jury held the Sun Valley hospital responsible for the death of Dean Camacho, who was stabbed to death by his roommate, Jerry Romansky, in 2011. Jurors had previously awarded other damages against the hospital, bringing the total to $5.26 million.

In June 2012, Dean Camacho's father, Joseph Camacho, 79, sued the hospital for wrongful death and elder abuse.

On Friday, the jury found that the hospital and its staff acted recklessly in assigning Romansky and Camacho to the same room, despite knowing that Romansky had a violent past, a criminal background and was known to attack others without provocation, according to court documents. Jurors decided Monday to award punitive damages against the hospital.

"Throughout the entire case, there was a pattern of conduct that the jury felt showed that the hospital had not done what it should have for its patients," said attorney John Marcin, who represents Joseph Camacho.

Hospital staffers failed to check on Camacho every 15 minutes as required, instead leaving him in the room for about half an hour with Romansky, who stabbed him to death with a metal bracket removed from a toilet, Marcin said.

The presence of the bracket, which was fashioned into a weapon, violated building codes and should not have been in the bathroom. The bathroom also lacked a required emergency call button, Marcin said.

An attorney who represented the hospital could not be reached for comment.

A jury previously awarded Camacho $2.26 million in other damages.

stephen.ceasar@latimes.com

Twitter: @sjceasar

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