Connecticut Man Sues Over Transport to Hospital

A Connecticut man has filed a lawsuit over being forced against his will to be transported to a hospital to be evaluated for a possible heart attack.

Arthur Schofield, 53, contends that he was forcibly removed from his home in South Windsor by police and EMS personnel because they believed he was having a heart attack. The incident began on December 23, 2010, when Schofield went to his doctor’s office in Manchester complaining of “an ache he was feeling in his lung”.

Concerned about a possible heart attack the doctor called an ambulance, but Schofield declined treatment and left the office upset that an ambulance had been called. The ambulance crew notified the Manchester Police Department and an officer responded. Because Schofield has left the scene to go home, the officer requested South Windsor Police to meet the subject at his house. Both police departments and the ambulance from the Manchester Fire Department responded.

Once at Schofield’s house, the situation deteriorated. Schofield had been drinking and police officers  forcibly restrained him. He was then transported to Manchester Memorial Hospital where he was evaluated against his will in the ER. He was discharged once it was confirmed he was not having a heart attack. A blood test put his blood alcohol level at .01. To add insult to injury, he later received a $3,100 bill from the hospital and a $590 bill for the ambulance transport.

The suit was filed March 14, 2012 in Superior Court in Hartford. The suit names a long list of defendants (34 in all), including the Manchester Police Department, South Windsor Police Department, Manchester Fire Department, Manchester Memorial Hospital and Ambulance Service of Manchester, Manchester Fire Chief Robert Bycholski, the individual police officers, the ER doctor, and several of the ER technicians.

Schofield’s suit alleges a number of Constitutional violations under 42 USC 1983 (4th Amendment, 14th Amendment due process, equal protection,  right to privacy), state due process violations, assault,  battery, intentional infliction of severe emotional distress, invasion of privacy, negligence, gross negligence, recklessness, abuse of process, false imprisonment, and kidnapping. Besides seeking damages from the various organizations, Schofield is suing each of the named individuals personally.

Here is a copy of the complaint. Claim 2012-16 Schoefield

When I read through it I was a bit taken aback by the way it was drafted, including a “Case Snapshot” section, and how casual/imprecise some of the language was. For example, at one point the complaint states “The Plaintiff was alright with the doctor’s suggestion”… that is not how attorneys normally phrase allegations in their legal pleadings… at least not here in the Northeast. Yet it was clearly drafted by an attorney – I cannot imagine any possible count was omitted.

Upon reaching the last page on the complaint, the reason for my concern was evident: the complaint was drafted by a California attorney… which leads to another question. Why is a California attorney filing suit for a Connecticut plaintiff in Connecticut? Who exactly is going to appear in court for all those pesky motions…

Be that as it may, I would expect the response from the defense to be strong and direct, seeking to promptly remove the case to Federal court in an effort to quickly resolve those Federal Constitutional questions. It is part of the trench warfare that has become quite common in litigation these days. Federal courts stick to a much tighter schedule and are considerably less tolerant of poorly prepared cases than state court. It will no doubt increase the costs of the suit to both sides – which will probably impact the Plaintiff a lot more than the defendants… Remember… trench warfare.

One final point – in addition to seeking monetary damages, the complaint seeks a court order requiring that all police officers in Manchester and South Windsor receive mandatory annual training on when they can lawfully take someone into custody to be examined by a doctor.

More on the story.

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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