Updated April 8, 2020 - 8:04 pm
A local psychiatric hospital failed to protect a 6-year-old boy whose mother fatally set him on fire when it released the woman despite her “propensity to harm herself and/or others,” according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.
On Oct. 8, within a week of her release, Renai Palmer, 47, would lock herself and her son, Gavin, in an upstairs bedroom of her parents’ home and ignite a fire, killing them both.
Gavin died of carbon monoxide intoxication and suffered burns on about 75 percent of his body, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Clark County District Court against Spring Mountain Treatment Center on behalf of the boy’s father, Sean Murray.
“Clothing was sent to the lab for testing, and gasoline was located on the victim’s clothing,” Metropolitan Police Department homicide Lt. Ray Spencer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal at the time.
Their deaths were ruled a murder-suicide by the Clark County coroner’s office.
Spring Mountain Treatment Center, which provides medical services for behavioral and emotional issues at 7000 W. Spring Mountain Road, did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Palmer and Murray, Gavin’s biological parents, ended their relationship when Gavin was 1 and shared custody of the boy.
According to the lawsuit, Palmer had been admitted to the facility on a “Legal 2000,” which allows a treatment center or a hospital to legally hold people who present a clear and present danger to themselves or others for a minimum of 72 hours.
After 72 hours, according to state law, the patient can be released only if the individual is no longer a danger. If a patient requires further treatment, the hospital or treatment center can file a petition to extend the legal hold.
In Palmer’s case, the lawsuit alleges, the treatment center “failed to provide appropriate care and treatment to the decedent, Renai Leilani Palmer, by discharging her from treatment despite a propensity to harm herself and/or others.”
The treatment center also failed to warn Murray that his ex-girlfriend “was known to be or should have been known to be dangerous and violent, and who lacked mental capacity to be responsible for her own violent and dangerous actions,” according to Murray’s attorneys, Robert and Tracy Eglet.
Murray previously told the Review-Journal that he was unaware of her mental state when he dropped off his son to his mother two days before the fire for their usual biweekly custody exchange.
“That day Renai was extremely apologetic for things that happened in the past, like our custody battle in court years ago,” Murray said in late October. “It was weird, but I didn’t think much of it. I never thought she would take it to this level.”
Murray is seeking upward of $15,000 in damages.