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Tater-Alexander v. Amerjan

June 8, 2009

MICHAEL TATER-ALEXANDER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LONNIE R. AMERJAN, AN INDIVIDUAL IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS A CLOVIS; CITY OF CLOVIS, A POLICE OFFICER FOR THE CITY OF MUNICIPAL CORPORATION; TINA STERLING, INDIVIDUALLY AND POLICE OFFICER FOR THE CITY OF HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS A CLOVIS; FRESNO COMMUNITY HOSPITAL & MEDICAL CENTER DBA COMMUNITY REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, A CALIFORNIA NON-PROFIT CORPORATION; DR. THOMAS E. MANSFIELD, AN INDIVIDUAL, AND MARILYN JO GREENE, AN INDIVIDUAL; AND DOES 1-100, AS UNKNOWN CAPACITY, ENTITIES OF UNKNOWN FORM AND DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Oliver W. Wanger United States District Judge

Discovery Cut-Off: 10/11/10 Non-Dispositive Motion Filing Deadline: 10/15/10 Dispositive Motion Filing in Deadline: 11/1/10 Settlement Conference Date: 10/20/10 10:00 Ctrm. 7 Pre-Trial Conference Date: 1/3/11 11:00 Ctrm. 3 Trial Date: 2/15/11 9:00 Ctrm. 3 (JT-15 days)

SCHEDULING CONFERENCE ORDER

I. Date of Scheduling Conference

June 5, 2009.

II. Appearances Of Counsel

III. Summary of Pleadings

1. On or about March 17, 2007 at approximately 8:00 p.m., Mr. Alexander sought emergency medical examination and treatment at Community Regional for severe abdominal pain, a loss of appetite, and an inability to drink liquids.

2. Mr. Alexander was initially seen by Dr. Mansfield and Nurse Greene, who asked him to undress and put a hospital gown on for examination before treatment could commence.

3. At that time, Mr. Alexander told Dr. Mansfield and Nurse Greene that he suffered from a disorder that caused him to suffer severe pain when he is exposed to cold temperatures and asked that they allow him to keep his clothes on during the emergency room examination. Dr. Mansfield and Nurse Greene refused to perform an examination unless plaintiff submitted to their demands.

4. Plaintiff informed Dr. Mansfield and Nurse Greene of his disorder and the accommodating treatment he had been provided on several prior occasions. He further informed defendants that the previous treatment had been provided without the need to remove his clothes and expose him to severe pain from the cold. Despite giving a detailed history of his injuries and requesting specific medical treatment and care, plaintiff was denied adequate and competent medical treatment and care.

5. Notwithstanding the plaintiff's explanation or the information readily available in Community Regional records, Dr. Mansfield and Nurse Greene continued to refuse to perform an adequate and professional screening examination or treat Mr. Alexander, including but not limited to, taking vital signs, drawing blood, administering an IV and pain medication, and performing a CT scan. They stated that they would only perform such examination if he undressed and put on a hospital gown.

6. To protest the refusal of emergency medical examination and treatment, Mr. Alexander requested a patient's advocate. Defendants refused to honor his request.

7. Instead, Community Regional called the Clovis Police to confront Mr. Alexander in the emergency exam room. Said defendants knew that a delay in his treatment would cause prolonged pain and suffering and cause further medical damage. As such, defendants' attempt to have the police remove Mr. Alexander was done with conscious disregard for the known risks and prolonged discomfort.

8. Officer Stirling arrived sometime between approximately 9:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Mr. Alexander was lying down on a hospital bed at the time. Upon her arrival, she inquired as to why plaintiff was not putting on a gown. Mr. Alexander told Officer Stirling that he had a "medical condition" (so as to maintain his privacy). He further stated that his medical condition caused him to suffer extreme pain to exposure to cold that prevented him from undressing and putting on a hospital gown.

9. Officer Stirling urged Mr. Alexander to disclose his condition and waive his right to privacy in the presence of Nurse Greene and Corporal Amerjan, who stepped from behind a curtain he was hiding behind during this conversation. Mr. Alexander specifically told them that he would not waive his right to physician-patient confidentiality or other privacy rights.

10. As Corporal Amerjan appeared from behind the curtain, he told Mr. Alexander, "We know who you are Mr. Alexander...Mr. Jacoby & Meyers [a well-known plaintiffs' law firm]," implying that Mr. Alexander was "notorious" for exercising his rights.

11. Mr. Alexander then asked the officers why they were in the emergency exam room area. Corporal Amerjan responded that they had received a report of an "uncooperative patient" from Community Regional.

12. Mr. Alexander was surprised at the characterization as he had never done anything more than refuse to undress and put on a hospital gown due to his disorder.

13. The officers and Nurse Greene left the room and talked in the hallway. When they came back in the room, Corporal Amerjan ordered Mr. Alexander to immediately leave because Community Regional did not want to treat him.

14. Corporal Amerjan approached Mr. Alexander, reaching for his right arm and said "Let's go" at which point Mr. Alexander did not feel free to go about his business. Corporal Amerjan limited Mr. Alexander's freedom by saying he had to: (1) call a taxicab so that he could seek treatment at another medical facility; (2) be driven in a patrol car to another medical facility; (3) call someone to pick him up; or (4) be escorted to his personal vehicle. Further, Corporal Amerjan and Officer Stirling did not allow Mr. Alexander to walk around the emergency room despite his request to do so as a means of easing his pain.

15. Mr. Alexander, suffering from excruciating abdominal pain and dehydration during this entire ordeal which had by now lasted several hours, refused to leave and again asked to be examined and treated by Community Regional.

16. Plaintiff told the officers they were unlawfully interfering with his ability to secure emergency medical treatment. Mr. Alexander then told the officers to either arrest him formally or leave him alone to seek emergency medical treatment from Community Regional. Corporal Amerjan stated that he recognized that this was a civil matter between Community Regional and Mr. Alexander.

17. Mr. Alexander asked the officers to leave and requested medical treatment and a patient's advocate. They again refused. Plaintiff further requested that the officers take a report from him regarding Community Regional's conduct and refusal to treat him. But the officers refused to take a report or complaint from Mr. Alexander. The officers eventually left.

18. After the officers left, Community Regional, by and through Dr. Mansfield and Nurse Greene, continued to refuse treatment unless Mr. Alexander undressed and put on a hospital gown. The House Supervisor Katherine K. Eventually administered an IV and drew blood for testing.

19. However, it was not until approximately 6:00 a.m. the next day (March 18, 2007) when Dr. Gurchuran Singh arrived that Community Regional finally examined and treated Mr. Alexander. Dr. Singh provided pain medication through Mr. Alexander's left hand without requiring him to undress and put on a gown and eventually drained the pancreatic pseudocyst.

20. Approximately 12 hours after Mr. Alexander first arrived at Community Regional in severe pain, it was determined that he had an acute pancreatic pseudocyst and truly suffered from severe abdominal pain. 500cc (16 oz.) of fluid was drained from the pancreatic pseudocyst and Mr. Alexander was hospitalized for several days.

21. Unfortunately this treatment came too late. His pancreas went into complete failure and ultimately caused diabetes from fluid pressure on the pancreas due to the prolonged denial of treatment by Community Regional and Nurse Greene and the complete refusal of treatment by Dr. Mansfield.

Principal Legal Issues

22. Whether Community Regional violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act ("EMTALA") by refusing examination and treatment to Mr. Alexander solely because his medical disability prevented him from putting on a hospital gown without enduring extreme pain and discomfort from the cold.

23. Whether Community Regional violated the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") by refusing to accommodate Mr. Alexander's medical condition and providing medical examination and treatment while he remained in his own clothes, as it had done on prior occasions.

24. Whether Clovis and its police officers violated Mr. Alexander's First, Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights by committing the acts alleged above.

25. Whether each defendant violated Mr. Alexander's right to equal access to public accommodations under the California Unruh Civil Rights Act by refusing and interfering with his ability to seek medical examination and treatment.

26. Whether each defendant violated Mr. Alexander's right to seek medical treatment under the California Disabled Persons Act based on his medical disability and condition.

27. Whether Community Regional, Dr. Mansfield, and Nurse Greene committed medical malpractice by refusing medical examination and treatment to Mr. Alexander because his disability prevented him from wearing a hospital gown without enduring extreme pain and discomfort from the cold.

28. Whether Clovis and its police officers falsely arrested Mr. Alexander when they restricted his movement at Community Regional.

29. Whether Corporal Amerjan assaulted Mr. Alexander when they grasped his bed and told him "let's go" to get him to leave Community Regional.

30. Whether each defendant intentionally inflicted emotional distress on Mr. Alexander by refusing or interfering with his ability to seek medical examination and treatment despite knowing (or reasonably should have known) he could not wear a hospital gown without suffering extreme pain and discomfort from the cold due to his medical disability.

31. Whether Clovis and its police officers violated the California Ban Act by preventing Mr. Alexander from seeking medical treatment, and committing other civil rights violations, under threat of force or coercion.

Clovis Parties' Statement

32. Defendants City of Clovis, Lonnie Amerjan, and Tina Stirling deny they violated any of Plaintiff's rights protected by state or federal law. These Defendants contend that at approximately 10:33 p.m. on March 17, 2007, Corporal Amerjan and Officer Stirling responded to Clovis Community Hospital after receiving a call for service. The officers spoke with Mr. Alexander and left the hospital at approximately 11:23 p.m.

33. Defendants City of Clovis, Lonnie Amerjan, and Tina Stirling contend they did not cause any violation of plaintiff's rights under federal or state law and their conduct was objectively reasonable. Defendants contend that there is no basis for liability against the City of Clovis. Further, the individual defendants are entitled to qualified immunity.

Fresno Community Hospital's Statement

34. Defendants Fresno Community Hospital and Medical Center, dba Community Regional Medical Center, and Marilyn Jo Greene, R.N., deny they violated any of plaintiff's rights protected by Federal or State law. These defendants contend that the evening of March 17, 2007, the plaintiff came to Clovis Community Hospital, a facility operated by Defendant Fresno Community Hospital and Medical Center, complaining of abdominal pain. He refused to remove his clothing and put on a hospital gown so he could be properly examined, and became angry, started raising his voice, and causing a disturbance. When he would not discontinue that conduct, the Clovis Police were called.

35. Defendants contend they did not violate any of plaintiff's rights under Federal or State law and that their conduct was appropriate under the circumstances. In addition to denying any wrongdoing, defendants allege the following defenses:

a. Contributory negligence.

b. Defendants are entitled to the limitations contained in California Civil Code §§ 3333.1 and 3333.2, and California Code of Civil Procedure § 667.7.

c. Assumption of risk.

d. Failure to mitigate damages.

e. Comparative negligence.

f. The liability of these defendants may be limited by reason of California Civil Code § 1431.2.

g. Defendants' conduct may be privileged pursuant to California Civil Code §§ 56.10 and 56.1007, and damages may be limited pursuant to California Civil Code § 56.35.

h. Disclosures regarding plaintiff's medical condition, if there were any, are privileged under California Civil Code § 47 and the litigation privilege.

i. Plaintiff's complaint fails to state a cause of action for false imprisonment as to these answering defendants.

j. Plaintiff's claim for violation of EMTALA is barred against Ms. Greene as EMTALA does not provide for a cause ...


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