Friday, February 10, 2017

Man files lawsuit against Centra Health and Lynchburg police for unlawful detention

Lynchburg VA Feb 10 2017 A $3 million civil suit has been filed against Centra Health and the city of Lynchburg by a city man who claims he was detained unlawfully and shocked by a Taser after he tried to leave Lynchburg General Hospital without discharge papers.
Tershaud Rose is seeking $1 million in compensatory damages plus $2 million in punitive damages in a suit that also names three Lynchburg police officers and three Centra security guards, as well as unnamed defendants.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Lynchburg this week, also seeks unspecified relief for what it described as Centra’s “negligent entrustment” of the Taser to a security guard.
City Attorney Walter Erwin said Thursday the city has not been served the lawsuit but defended the officers’ conduct based on a report he had read on the incident. A Centra Health spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment.
Rose alleged in the suit that Lynchburg General security, followed by police officers moonlighting as security for the hospital and a housing complex nearby, chased down Rose when he tried to leave the hospital after treatment in the emergency room Feb. 4, 2016.
The police officers assisted in the nighttime chase, which carried onto public streets, after the hospital requested help; the officers apparently believed there were outstanding arrest warrants on Rose, which there were not, according to the lawsuit.
In an ensuing scuffle on Langhorne Road, in which several of the officers and guards tried to subdue Rose, one of the security guards used a Taser on his back twice, causing “excruciating pain” and later scarring, the lawsuit alleged.
The civil action went on to allege that later, after returning Rose to the hospital to be treated for injuries in the scuffle, officers learned he had no outstanding warrants. They then devised reasons for detaining him, including trespass on the hospital and obstruction of justice, according to the suit.
The lawsuit and court records show the trespass charge was dropped by prosecutors and Rose was acquitted in a jury trial Sept. 26, 2016, of the obstruction charge.
Paul Valois, Rose’s attorney in the civil suit, said there was no reason for either Centra security or the moonlighting police to chase down Rose, who was free to leave the hospital.
“There’s clearly excessive force, and they had no reason to detain him; they had no reason to charge him,” Valois said. “It’s just as a case of injustice.”
According to the lawsuit, when Rose elected to dress and leave the hospital, he still had an IV attachment in his arm, but the suit asserted it was not connected to any equipment.
Rose indicated he would remove the IV himself, which Valois said is not uncommon for patients. “Lots of people leave hospitals with IVs in their arms,” he said this week.
Rose had earlier been brought to the hospital by emergency transport after collapsing at a shopping center out of exhaustion from lack of sleep, according to the lawsuit. While the suit acknowledged he has a history of mental illness, he was showing no symptoms and was not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol, the lawsuit asserts.
Valois said he filed the lawsuit in federal court because it alleges violations of Rose’s constitutional rights.
Part of the case centers on Centra’s purported entrustment of the Taser X26 to the guard who allegedly used it on Rose.
Along with pain and permanent scarring, use of the Taser caused “severe mental anguish” to Rose, the suit alleges.
Erwin, the city attorney, emphasized it was a Centra guard and not the police who allegedly used a Taser on Rose, though he could not comment on details of the civil action itself.
“The suit hasn’t been served on anyone in the city. I do know about the incident,” he said late Thursday afternoon. “Once the city is served … and officers are served, we will file an appropriate response on everyone’s behalf.”
Lynchburg Police Lt. David Gearhart, department spokesman, said LPD would not comment because the matter may involve ongoing litigation.
Erwin said the city reviewed the incident based on an LPD report.
“They file an incident report to make sure what happened fell within the police department’s protocols,” he said. “It looks like the police department acted in an appropriate manner.”
Erwin said the officers were contacted by Centra Health and responded.
“I don’t see anything to criticize or fault the officers’ actions,” he said.

No court dates have been set in the case. Once served, the parties will have 60 days to respond in federal court.
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