On March 16, 2010, Kenneth Chapman checked himself into Carolinas Medical Center-Randolph emergency room, claiming that he had been seeing shadows that were not there, experiencing depression, and thinking of killing his wife. Rather than admitting Mr. Chapman, the hospital staff prescribed antidepressants and anxiety medicine. Mr. Chapman was then discharged. Later that day, Mr. Chapman murdered his wife and daughter, as well as his wife's daughter from a previous marriage.
The victims' family has initiated a lawsuit against Carolinas Healthcare System, alleging the murders could have been prevented with the exercise of reasonable medical care. The essential argument is that the hospital's sub-standard medical care was a proximate cause of the deaths.
Although counsel for the hospital contends that Mr. Chapman's actions were pre-meditated, the murders and subsequent investigations have led to questions of the adequacy of mental health care in Charlotte. According to an Observer investigation, the need for the mental health care has been increasing over the past decade; whereas, the number of beds for mental health patients have remained the same. Studies have also shown that CMC-Randolph needed to expand its facilities, but has failed to do so or make plans to do so since the studies were released. It is important to note that this information alone would not establish proximate cause in this particular case, though it could come into play during a trial.