Lawsuit alleges negligent medical care preceded murder-suicide

Flowers at the Short house
Flowers rest outside the Short family's house in Greenwood, Minn., on Sept. 11, 2015, after Brian Short fatally shot his wife and three children before killing himself.
Jim Gehrz | Star Tribune via AP

A lawsuit filed in Hennepin County alleges that the Park Nicollet health system’s failure to properly care for a patient with depression and anxiety led to the man killing himself and his family in 2015.

According to the wrongful death suit filed this week by a trustee for surviving relatives, Brian Short went to the emergency room, urgent care and his family doctor several times to get help for depression and anxiety in the summer of 2015. But the suit alleges that clinicians at the medical system didn’t take Short’s "severe, overwhelming and rapidly worsening" illness seriously enough.

In September 2015, Short fatally shot his wife Karen and their children Cole, Madison and Brooklyn before shooting himself in the family home in Greenwood, Minn.

Short, who trained as a nurse, ran a website called, which offered resources for people in the nursing profession. He reportedly was having financial difficulties in the months leading up to the killings.

The lawsuit alleges that Park Nicollet should have taken Short’s complaints more seriously. The lawsuit claims that the health system “wrongfully and negligently breached the standards of professional care” by, among other things, not properly assessing Short's condition and not treating him correctly.

Referring to the fatal shootings, the lawsuit alleges that "this tragic, horrific and foreseeable outcome would have been prevented by minimally competent medical treatment."

In a statement, Park Nicollet said Friday that "we were deeply saddened to learn of this unimaginable tragedy.

"At this time, we are not able to discuss the details of this case because it’s in active litigation. As the court case proceeds, we believe the facts will show that our clinicians and care teams provided appropriate care.

The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $50,000 for the heirs and next of kin of the Short family. Initial court hearings on the lawsuit haven’t yet been scheduled.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.