The Health Department is being sued by the family of a depressed Perth mother of four who committed suicide in Mexico by taking a euthanasia drug after a WA mental health facility allegedly failed to act on warning signs and provide her with proper care.
News of the District Court action launched by Erin Berg's three sisters Sally, Chris and Stephanie Doyle as well as her husband Norman Berg, on behalf of their four children aged four to 12, coincides with the anniversary of the 39-year-old's death in Tijuana on Mother's Day in 2008.
Four years on, Ms Berg's family is still fighting for justice and continues to wait for the WA Coroner's Court to set a date for an inquest into her death.
Ms Berg, a mental health outpatient who suffered severe post-natal depression after the birth of her fourth child, flew to Mexico in April 2008 to buy Nembutal, after reading right-to-die campaigner Philip Nitschke's book Killing Me Softly. She died in hospital after 10 days in a coma.
Staff at King Edward Memorial Hospital's mother-baby unit, where Ms Berg was an involuntary patient, uncovered and reported evidence of her suicide plan, including a passport application, an overdue library slip for Dr Nitschke's book, traveller's cheques and an itinerary to Mexico. But after that she was released into the community under the care of Fremantle Hospital's Alma Street clinic. A report by WA chief psychiatrist Rowan Davidson found the Alma Street clinic only provided Ms Berg with "superficial" treatment.
The family is seeking unspecified damages for economic loss and nervous shock.
Sally Doyle said she wanted to ensure other families avoided similar anguish. The Health Department refused to comment.