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Family settles legal claim over Astoria Bridge death

Suicide sparked mental health review
By Derrick DePledge

The Daily Astorian

Published on July 10, 2018 8:03AM

A makeshift memorial under the Astoria Bridge honors Carrie Barnhart, who committed suicide in April 2015.

A makeshift memorial under the Astoria Bridge honors Carrie Barnhart, who committed suicide in April 2015.

The family of a woman who jumped off the Astoria Bridge in 2015 has settled a wrongful death claim against Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare over her mental health treatment.

The lawsuit alleged the mental health agency was negligent in caring for Carrie Barnhart, 54, who had a history of schizophrenia and depression.

The amount of the settlement is confidential.

Jeremiah Ross, a Portland attorney who represented Barnhart’s family, declined to comment.

“CBH is grateful that we were able to work with the family to resolve the case,” Amy Baker, the mental health agency’s executive director, said in an email. “Our mission is to provide much-needed services to Clatsop County citizens with substance use and mental health disorders.”

Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare, the county’s mental health contractor, came under scrutiny after Barnhart’s suicide.

Astoria police had responded to Barnhart’s suicidal threats four times in the months before her death. The police had pulled her from the bridge a week before her suicide and taken her to Columbia Memorial Hospital, where she was seen by a doctor and mental health worker and released.

The suicide, documented by The Daily Astorian, unearthed long-standing concerns about the quality of mental health care in the county. Internal and state reviews led to a management shake-up among top administrators at the mental health agency and promises to improve crisis response.

The family’s lawsuit, filed last year, alleged the mental health agency was negligent and sought $950,000 in damages. The suit also named Columbia Memorial and an emergency room doctor, but the hospital and doctor were dismissed from the claim last year. As part of the settlement, Barnhart’s family agreed to dismiss the county from the suit.

Artanya Barnhart, one of Barnhart’s daughters, who represented her mother’s estate, also agreed she would not publicly make any derogatory remarks about the county to the news media or on the internet about the events alleged in the legal action.


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