Forensic Psychiatry – An Unusual Mental Health Defense

By December 11, 2016 Workplace Violence

workplace violenceWhile we’ve gotten used to hearing plaintiffs use arguments about the impact of alleged sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation in the workplace, on their physical and mental health, a recent court case vividly demonstrated how the defense can make use of forensic psychiatry to counter these claims.

Dr. Mark Lipian, TAL Global’s Clinical and Forensic Psychiatrist, a noted forensic psychiatry expert, testified recently for the defense in a court case brought by Zhoei Teasley, a former SpaceX employee. Ms. Teasley alleged that the company ignored her coworker’s sexual harassment, paid her less than her male colleagues, discriminated against her for the psychological disability she suffered as a result of the harassment, and retaliated against her for raising complaints about the issues – alleging a formidable list of wrongs.

As part of its defense strategy, SpaceX used the expert testimony of Dr. Lipian – a board-certified psychiatrist, and an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA. Dr. Lipian testified that after meeting the plaintiff for a full day, and after examining Ms. Teasley’s medical records and other evidence, he concluded that Ms. Teasley’s behavior fits all the symptoms of borderline personality disorder, and that Ms. Teasley changed her own story about the harassment to fit the needs of her lawsuit, as may be expected from a person suffering from the disorder.

Result: the jury rejected Ms. Teasley’s allegations and denied her the substantial sum she sought in compensation and punitive damages. The line of defense taken in this case highlights the widening spectrum of forensic psychiatry use in the courtroom.

To read more about this case, and about Dr. Lipian’s testimony, please click on the following link: Those Allegations Are Just Crazy… Bring in An Expert?.

To learn about how Dr. Lipian can help surmount legal and practical challenges, in the workplace or the courtroom, please contact us.

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