Judge rules sufficient evidence that appellant’s “schizophrenia” caused by trauma

Important landmark ruling by a court in Aotearoa / NZ, dated 22nd Nov, 2013 and upholding an appeal against a lower court ruling in a claim for compensation.

LS v Accident Compensation Corporation [2013] NZACC 385 (22 November 2013)

Judge LG Powell’s  ruling, is, in summary [and that’s my inexpert summary not the Judge’s own words]:

That in principle, there is sufficient body of evidence accumulated over recent years to demonstrate that life experiences are a significant causal contribution to a person suffering in later life in ways that can become diagnosed as “schizophrenia”; and specifically in the individual case before the court, there is sufficient evidence for ruling to support the plaintiff’s claim that schizophrenia is caused by his traumatic early experiences.

The central issue in the case accepted by both patios was of causation – in particular did the appellants experiences of contribute to the injury resulting in diagnosis of schizophrenia and subsequent claims for compensation.

In Judge Powell’s words “it became clear that there were really two issues”
1. “whether medical science recognizes that a causal link can exist as between sexual abuse and schizophrenia”
2. “whether on the facts of this case a link has been established”

“It is a common ground that any acknowledgement of a link between sexual abuse and schizophrenia is a recent phenomena, prior to which causation has been seen in exclusively biological or genetic terms.”

The case hinged substantially on weighing up the two conflicting explanations and evidence for the cause of “schizophrenia” that were presented to the court:

  • on behalf of the appellant by Dr Codyre – that that trauma is a “material and substantial cause”
  • on behalf of the respondent Dr Willamette – “is necessarily speculative, relying as it does on unknown family history and unknown genetic mutations “…

“I find that Dr Codyre’s analysis to be more compelling and inherently more credible cause of the appellant’s schizophrenia than Dr Willamune’s analysis.”

Thank you John Read for sharing this, and again a big thank you to John Read and colleagues for all the work over decades put in to research, assemble and share the evidence upon which this judgement is founded.

This now is a second ruling of this sort – the first in UK is referenced in the NZ Court Judge’s ruling.

This comment is from John Read, who’s understandably quite chuffed, as well he might be.

john read“A rather wonderful thing has just happened in NZ

A District Court judge has upheld an appeal by a sexual abuse survivor against a decision (in relation to a claim for financial compensation) that sexual abuse can not cause ‘schizophrenia’.

The opinion of two psychiatrists that there is no evidence of a causal link was overturned when a third psychiatrist (David Codyre – a good friend and colleague) presented what the research actually says (including some of our research papers). One of the psychiatrists maintained her denial even after being presented with David’s summary of the research!

But the judge overturned the decision, citing some of our work and a previous UK judge’s similar decision.

This is a major breakthrough which we should publicise far and wide.”

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3 Responses to Judge rules sufficient evidence that appellant’s “schizophrenia” caused by trauma

  1. hello, brilliant decision, please note that the appellant’s name is supressed and shouldn’t be made public! can you please take this link down. the link to the supressed decision is here http://www.nzlii.org/nz/cases/NZACC/2013/385.html. and on Professor John Read’s site


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