As a cardiologist for a busy Boynton Beach area practice, Dr. Shaul Dadi saw thousands of patients, juggling hospital visits with office exams, tending to emergencies and ending each day reading heart scans so he could diagnose and treat complex and often life-threatening ailments.
Now, at 58, he spends his days feeding ducks in his backyard and becomes overwhelmed by simple tasks, such as trying to remember which button to push on the remote so he can watch one of this favorite TV shows on Animal Planet, his wife says.
“He was such a hard-working person and he was driven by his profession,” his wife, Adena Dadi, told a Palm Beach County jury on Monday. “He wanted to do well professionally. He wanted to do well by his family.”
But, she said, since he had electroconvulsive therapy six years ago after he fell into a bottomless depression, he can do neither. While the procedure, better known as electro-shock therapy, has come a long way since it was vilified in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, it is still controversial. And, Adena Dadi said, it’s with good reason.
“I have firsthand knowledge that it’s not safe and effective because I live with my husband who has brain damage from ECT,” she said of the treatment that she said turned her vibrant husband into a needy child.
Dadi, who no longer can drive, much less practice medicine, is seeking $27 million from Dr. Praturi Sharma, claiming Sharma, a psychiatrist, botched the treatments he administered at Fair Oaks Pavilion, the psychiatric wing of Delray Medical Center. Those damages, for lost income and care he will need for the rest of his life, don’t include the money his attorneys Jeffrey Fenster and Nancy LaVista will seek for his pain and suffering. That could add millions more to the request they will make to the jury on Friday.
Dadi’s legal team on Monday wrapped up its case, which began in late September. Attorneys representing Sharma have only began calling witnesses Monday to refute Dadi’s claims.
Citing statements they claim Adena Dadi made about the pressure practicing medicine put on her husband, Sharma’s attorney Jamie Gursky maintains Dadi’s mental ills began long before he arrived at Fair Oaks and his debilitation has nothing to do with the electroshock treatments.
Dadi, who in 2008 was chairman of medicine at Bethesda Hospital, fell into depression after he was fired from Medical Specialists of the Palm Beaches in October 2009 after working there for 13 years, Adena Dadi testified. His termination came after he failed to treat one of four patients at Bethesda one night when he was on call, she said.
His ego bruised and his psyche battered, he started his own practice. But, she said, it only lasted six weeks. “He crawled into bed on Thanksgiving and could not get out of bed for five days,” she said.
Realizing her husband had to heal himself before he would heal others, she took him to a psychiatrist. After taking medicine and talking to a therapist, he seemed better. But, in February 2010, she found him in the garage with a cable wire wrapped around his neck.
“I was scared. I was petrified,” she said. She drove him to the Delray hospital, where he was involuntarily committed under the state’s Baker Act.
Adena Dadi said she wasn’t told he tried to commit suicide again and wasn’t consulted before he was given ECT. She said she was appalled by the revelation. But, she said, nurses and an outside psychiatrist she consulted assured her the treatments were safe. But to be effective he had to have six to 12 of them. Since he only had four treatments before he was released from Fair Oaks, she took him for the additional ones.
But, she said, instead of rescuing her husband from depression, the treatments destroyed his memory. Testifying briefly last week, Dadi said he remembered little about his stay at Fair Oaks, the electroshock therapy or his subsequent treatment. But he did recall what he has lost.
“I had a very good memory before. I practiced medicine. I had thousands of patients. I lost it all,” he said. “The memory loss. The isolation I feel because of my inability to interact with others. The inability to drive. I think the procedure caused brain damage and I feel it. Every day. Every day.”