Northampton woman files lawsuit alleging negligence at Brattleboro Retreat led to her 15-year-old daughter’s death in 2014

Last modified: Friday, March 20, 2015

BRATTLEBORO, Vt.— The mother of a 15-year-old Northampton girl who died after attempting suicide at a Brattleboro mental health treatment center has filed a lawsuit alleging the center’s “carelessness and negligence” led to the death of Laura B. DiPillo in 2014.

Margaret A. Russo filed the suit against the Brattleboro Retreat on Monday in U.S. District Court in Vermont. In the suit, she alleges that one week after her daughter was admitted April 29, 2014, to the Brattleboro Retreat for depression and suicidal thoughts, DiPillo was found unresponsive in her room. She was resuscitated and hospitalized, but died July 1.

“The injuries and death sustained by Laura B. DiPillo were caused by the Retreat’s failure to exercise reasonable care and skill in the care, monitoring, supervision and treatment provided to Laura B. DiPillo in connection with her depression and suicide ideation,” the lawsuit states.

“The motivation for the family’s wrongful death lawsuit is to make certain that in the future The Retreat institutes and follows procedures to maximize patient safety and to insure that a tragedy like this never happens to another child,” Russo’s attorney, Joel T. Faxon of Faxon Law Group in New Haven, Connecticut, said in a statement to the Gazette.

Attempts to reach DiPillo’s mother and her father, Stephen W. DiPillo, were unsuccessful.

According to an obituary published in the Gazette in July, DiPillo was born in Mount Vernon, Washington. She graduated from Hatfield Elementary School and The Williston Northampton Middle School, and was a student at Northampton High School when she died. In her obituary, her family remembered her as an open, loving person who “lit up every room she entered.”

The medical malpractice suit seeks damages of more than $75,000, with the exact amount to be decided by a jury, according to court documents. The suit asserts that the negligence that caused DiPillo’s death has deprived her of her “ability to carry on and enjoy life’s activities” and her earning capacity, and caused her family to incur medical and funeral expenses.

It also states that her mother and father have suffered “substantial pecuniary loss, grief, anguish, loss of support, pain and suffering.”

Konstantin von Krusenstiern, a spokesman for the Brattleboro Retreat, said he was not able to answer questions about the suit. He instead provided this statement: “This was a tragic event and the family has our deepest sympathy. Since litigation has been initiated, further comment would be inappropriate.”

The Brattleboro Retreat had not filed any response in U.S. District Court as of Thursday.

According to a report in the Brattleboro Reformer, a 13-year-old girl took her own life in a residential home at the Brattleboro Retreat on Jan. 3, 2014. In the two preceding years, there were two other deaths at the Retreat, one of them a suicide, according to published reports.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at


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