LA County Fire Sued for $10.4 Million Over Restraint of Seizure Patient

A man who claims he was handcuffed and restrained while having an epileptic seizure has filed a $10.4 million suit against the California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Fire Department. Jason Cook is seeking is damages from the State of California, five CHP officers, LA County, four firefighters, a captain and the fire chief for physical, psychological, and emotional injuries he claims are severe.

Cook claims he was involved in a minor vehicle accident on April 29, 2017 to which members of the California Highway Patrol and LA County Fire responded. According to the complaint:

  • Defendant STATE OF CALIFORNIA, DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAY PATROL through their employee Officer D. Mullane, arrived on the scene upon a report of a minor traffic collision.
  • Officer Mullane observed Plaintiff COOK, seated in the driver’s seat of a 2004 Hyundai Sonata.
  • Plaintiff COOK was experiencing a tonic-clonic epileptic seizure and was not conscious to communicate.
  • Under the direction of Defendants Los Angeles County Fire Department personnel, Officer Mullane removed Plaintiff, COOK from his Hyundai vehicle and placed him in handcuffs while in a prone position on the concrete center median area while COOK was experiencing said seizure.
  • COOK had no control of his body at the time he was handcuffed and subsequently uncontrollably squirmed and kicked unconsciously.
  • Plaintiff COOK was unlawfully handcuffed to the gurney while having the epileptic seizure and sustained severe and permanent harms and losses to both wrists requiring extensive medical treatment, surgeries and ongoing medical care.
  • Defendant CHP Officers SERGEANT M. LENTZ, OFFICER D. CHAN, OFFICER M. LEPE, OFFICER J. EDMONDS, OFFICER J. BROWN all had an opportunity to intervene to protect Plaintiff from further harm by over riding the order to handcuff plaintiff during his seizure and instead use restraints commonly used with epileptics during a seizure such as straps.
  • As a result of their failure to intervene and countermand the order Plaintiff sustained further unnecessary harms and permanent losses.
  • PLAINTIFF experienced severe pain and discomfort, severe emotional distress, and related non economic losses as a result of this incident.
  • Furthermore, LOS ANGELES COUNTY LOS ANGELES COUNTY, LOS ANGELES COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT LOS ANGELES COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT CHIEF DARYL L. OSBY IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY, LOS ANGELES COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT FIREFIGHTERS A. WANG, C. REYNOSA, CAPTAIN M. COGGINS, ENGINEER M. GALLO, AND FIREFIGHTER F. GIBBS, other DOE firefighters yet to be identified, named as DOES 1 through 50 failed to provide reasonable and necessary medical and or psychological services after JASON COOK sustained physical injuries, including but not limited to: carpel tunnel nerve damage to both wrists, face, head, hands, elbows, feet, toes, back, buttocks, and related injuries resulting from removing JASON COOK from his vehicle while experiencing a seizure then handcuffing him to a gurney.
  • JASON COOK requests money damages against the COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, who employed, trained and supervised the firefighters and their Captain for their tortious acts in concert with the CHP officer defendants above, as well as their unconstitutional acts.

The suit was filed in US District Court for the Central District of California. The complaint contains three Constitutional counts all based upon 42 USC §1983: excessive force in violation of Cook’s Fourth Amendment rights; a pattern and practice of “failure to train” against CHPs that was “deliberately indifferent” to Cook’s rights; and a pattern and practice of “failure to train” that was “deliberately indifferent” against LA County Fire.

Here is a copy of the complaint:

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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