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Michael Tater-Alexander v. Lonnie R. Amerjan

August 12, 2011


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


Complaint Filed: March 14, 2008 Trial: May 3 -- 11, 2011 Courtroom: 3 Judge: Hon. Oliver W. Wanger


Plaintiff Michael Tater-Alexander ("Plaintiff") proceeds with this action against Defendant Fresno Community Hospital and Medical Center, dba Community Regional Medical Center ("Defendant") and operator of Clovis Community Medical Center for alleged violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), California Disabled Persons Act ("DPA") and Unruh Civil Rights Act. The case was tried before an advisory jury over six days from May 3 to 11, 2011. Nine witnesses were called: (1) David M. Arguito; (2) Mary Lee Contreras, R.N.; (3) Michael Tater-Alexander; (4) Marilyn Jo Greene, R.N.; (5) Kathryn Kawaguchi, R.N.; (6) Corporal Lonnie Amerjan; (7) Thomas Mansfield, M.D.; (8) Charles William Mitchell; and (9) Niel Bianco. After hearing the evidence and arguments of counsel and being duly instructed by the court, the jury signed and returned the verdict after answering "No" to the first question:

At the time of this occurrence, was plaintiff disabled as that term is defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act?

Doc. 335.


A.The Incident

1.Shortly before 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 17, 2007, Plaintiff drove himself to Clovis Community Medical Center. Plaintiff registered for treatment in the Emergency Department for a complaint of abdominal pain at approximately 18:48 (6:48 p.m.).

2.Clovis Community Medical Center was at all relevant times a hospital operated by Defendant. Defendant concedes that it operates a place of public accommodation under the ADA.

3.Clovis Community Medical Center‟s Emergency Department was busy the night of March 17, 2007.

4.According to the medical record, the triage nurse saw Plaintiff at 7:02 p.m. The triage nurse noted that Plaintiff‟s pain level was 9 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest/severe pain. The triage nurse noted Plaintiff‟s past medical history as: ""Pancreatitis. Peptic ulcer disease. Back problems. Three beers over past two weeks."

5.Marilyn Jo Greene, R.N., the supervisory nurse in the Emergency Department that evening, noted at 7:10 p.m. that Plaintiff was ambulating without help.

6.Plaintiff testified that he had to sit and wait for a couple of hours between the time he saw the triage nurse and the time he was taken to a room. The medical record and the testimony of Nurse Greene show that triage occurred at 7:02 p.m. and Plaintiff ambulated to a room in the Emergency Department at 7:29 p.m., twenty-seven minutes after triage.

7.There were two blankets in the Emergency Department exam room. Plaintiff covered himself with one blanket and put another blanket over his feet. Plaintiff was wearing thermals, sweats, a T-shirt, and hoodie.

8.At 7:40 p.m., Nurse Greene noted in Plaintiff‟s chart that Plaintiff refused to change into a hospital gown, refused physical assessment, and was educated on the hospital‟s need to be able to complete a physical exam of Plaintiff, who continued to refuse.

9.Defendant had an unwritten practice of having patients in the Emergency Department wear a gown to facilitate examination and treatment.

10.At 9:15 p.m. Nurse Greene noted in the chart that Plaintiff "[c]ontinues to refuse to cooperate with this nurse.

Stated: "I don‟t want to be here any more than you want me here so just give me what I want and I will leave.‟"

11.Thomas Mansfield, M.D., an emergency physician, made his first notes in Plaintiff‟s chart at 9:55 p.m.

12.Dr. Mansfield was an independent contractor and not an employee or agent of Defendant or Clovis Community Medical Center.

13.Plaintiff was loud and profane. Security was called at approximately 10:14 p.m. Security Officer Charles Mitchell, an employee of the hospital, arrived at approximately 10:21 p.m.

14.At 10:24 p.m., Dr. Mansfield noted: "Security with patient. Refuses to comply with removing T-shirt for IV and CT scan. Wants police called. Police and supervisor talked at length with patient and finally agreed to take shirt off for IV and CT. Patient continued antics. Refused to take PO contrast. The oral contrast for the CT scan. Then wouldn't lie down for the CT."

15.At 10:25 p.m. Nurse Greene noted in Plaintiff‟s chart: "Dr. Mansfield at bedside. Patient refusing to cooperate with M.D. for physical assessment. "

16.Security Officer Mitchell attempted to get Plaintiff to calm down, cooperate, and put on a hospital gown.

17.Plaintiff told Security Officer Mitchell that he was not putting on "a fucking dress."

18.The Clovis Police were called. Officer Tina Stirling of the Clovis Police Department arrived at approximately 10:30 p.m. A few minutes after Officer Stirling‟s arrival, Corporal Lonnie Amerjan of the Clovis Police Department arrived.

19.Corporal Amerjan spoke with Dr. Mansfield, who requested Corporal Amerjan‟s assistance with Plaintiff.

20.Corporal Amerjan attempted to obtain Plaintiff‟s cooperation. Plaintiff told Corporal Amerjan that he did not want to be treated by Dr. Mansfield or Nurse Greene. Corporal Amerjan asked Plaintiff why he would not put on a gown and Plaintiff responded that the doctor could see him as he was. Plaintiff requested a patient advocate.

21.Kathryn Kawaguchi, R.N., the House Supervisor, came to the Emergency Department, spoke with Plaintiff, and got him to cooperate, put on a gown over his clothing, and allow her to put in an IV.

22.Plaintiff took the hospital gown off and put his jacket back on as soon as the nurse left.

23.Plaintiff calmed down and discontinued his disruptive conduct. Security Officer Mitchell and the two Clovis Police ...

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