The New York Personal Injury Blog

Shannan Gilbert's Family Sues Doctor, Still Sees Link to LI Serial Killer

It seems there are nothing but unanswered questions in the Shannan Gilbert and Long Island serial killer cases. Gilbert, a prostitute who advertised on craigslist, disappeared in May 2010. Though her remains were found late last year, the cause of death was inconclusive.

Gilbert’s disappearance led to the accidental discovery of ten victims of an unidentified serial killer, most of which are believed to have also been prostitutes. Detectives do not believe that the deaths of Gilbert and the other victims are related, reports New York Magazine.

For Dr. C. Peter Hackett, it may be that no good deed goes unpunished. On the night of Gilbert's disappearance, she arrived at his house in a state of panic. He convinced her to come inside and tried to calm her by administering an unknown medication. He then tried to turn her over to her driver, but instead of getting in the car, she ran in the opposite direction, reports the Wall Street Journal. Police believe that she ran into the marsh, tripped, and drowned, while somehow discarding her since-discovered jeans and shoes along the way.

Gilbert's mother filed a lawsuit against Dr. Hackett late last week, blaming him for her daughter's death. One of the goals of the lawsuit, according to the mother, is to get testimony about Gilbert's last moments under oath. The attorney representing the family said that the damages sought would be in the millions.

Before damages can be awarded, the family is going to have to prove that Dr. Hackett's actions led to Gilbert's death. At this point, no one knows what lead to her death. Was she a victim of violence? When her remains were located, two bones were missing from her neck, reports ABC. Her family believed at the time that they may have been removed in order to cover up foul play.

Even if she fell into the marsh and drowned, what was the cause of her panicked flight? According to NY Magazine, she had an untreated bipolar disorder, which could have led to a manic state. She spent twenty-three minutes on the phone with the police, while hiding behind a john's couch, claiming that he was trying to kill her. The police didn't find her credible enough to show up, reports the Star-Ledger. If the john, Gilbert Brewer, was the killer, he certainly wouldn't have let her sit on the phone for over twenty minutes.

What about the doctor? The family argues that he shouldn't have released her after administering a drug. He tried to turn her over to her driver. She ran away. Was he supposed to chase a panicked and possibly mentally ill woman who believed that someone was trying to kill her?

In order to prove causation, the family will have to show that but for the doctor's negligence, she would not have died and that the manner of her death was foreseeable as a result of his conduct. Both are difficult to prove without knowing the cause of death.

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