Man Accuses Los Angeles City Medics of Malpractice

A man who claims he was improperly treated by Los Angeles City Fire Department paramedics, has filed suit claiming they administered medications that caused him permanent injuries. The man, identified in the complaint as John Doe, filed suit pro se in Los Angeles County Superior Court naming the City of Los Angeles, the two medics, and the hospital to which he was transported.

The suit alleges negligence, civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, medical battery, misrepresentation, libel, negligent infliction of emotional distress and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The factual allegations in the complaint are lengthy and are cited here at length to provide a balance perspective. Quoting from the complaint:

  • On the afternoon of November 15, 2021, PLAINTIFF JOHN DOE went to the Bank of America branch [in] North Hollywood, to perform a simple transaction.
  • While he was waiting in line at the Bank, Plaintiff began to feel extremely overheated, as if he had a fever; he also started feeling like he had some chest pain and difficulty breathing.
  • Plaintiff worried that these symptoms portended a case of Covid-19.
  • The Bank Manager asked Plaintiff if he wanted him to call the paramedics, to which Plaintiff responded in the affirmative.
  • Plaintiff attempted to relax, but found it difficult to do so; he was in acute distress, suffering from breathing difficulty, chest pain, weakness, and feeling overly hot, creating continued anxiety within Plaintiff.
  • Plaintiff explained to the Bank Manager that while he waited for the paramedics, he wanted needed to do the transaction, which, hopefully, would be quick; the Bank Manager told Plaintiff he would have his teller assist Plaintiff.
  • In the meantime, Plaintiff felt so weak that he had to sprawl out underneath one of the Bank’s tables. The line eventually dwindled, Plaintiff made his way to the window, and began his transaction with the teller.
  • Just as the teller was beginning to assist Plaintiff in processing his transaction, at least two PARAMEDICS from Defendant LOS ANGELES FIRE DEPARTMENT (hereinafter, collectively, “Paramedics”) appeared at the Bank. Plaintiff did not get their names at the time. Plaintiff told the Paramedics he just needed a moment, as the teller was helping him to complete an important transaction.
  • The Paramedics, however, said Plaintiff needed to go with them outside immediately, even though Plaintiff was just about finished. Plaintiff accompanied them outside.
  • The Paramedics instructed Plaintiff to get into their ambulance. Plaintiff began to do so, but attempted to explain to Paramedics his concerns that: (1) his transaction with the teller was incomplete; and (2) his ID and debit card, which he needed, might still be inside the Bank.
  • The Paramedics told Plaintiff that his “transaction had “been declined,” but, according to Plaintiff’s recollection, when asked for a receipt of such a decline, the Paramedics stated that there was one, but failed to produce it.
  • The Paramedics then stated sternly, “You’re going to the hospital!”—as if somehow Plaintiff had any thoughts to the contrary—and ordered Plaintiff not to “resist” the Paramedics, or else they would have no choice but to put Plaintiff in restraints.
  • In the ambulance, the Paramedics asked Plaintiff about his prior medical history, which Plaintiff provided in a fair amount of detail. In response to their questions, Plaintiff listed his current medications, medical conditions, and reported—truthfully—that he had no prior history of alcohol or drug abuse. The Paramedics acted openly doubtful of Plaintiff’s statements. For example, when Plaintiff recited his medication list, the Paramedics interjected that they wanted to know if Plaintiff had been taking any street drugs. Plaintiff again responded truthfully, denying that he had ever taken any street drugs in his entire life, and even inviting the Paramedics to test him for alcohol, and for any illicit drugs they wished.
  • Plaintiff asked to be taken to USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, as they have extensive records on him but the Paramedics ignored his request, taking him instead to Sherman Oaks Hospital without informing him of same.
  • The Paramedics then asked Plaintiff, in an almost presumptive and conclusory manner, whether he were “homeless” and “on Medi-Cal”; further, they seemed unwilling to believe Plaintiff’s averments that he was neither.
  • Plaintiff then offered to show the Paramedics his Blue Shield PPO insurance card as proof, yet they still remained openly doubtful and contemptuous of him.
  • Plaintiff continued to feel in severe respiratory distress, as well as a feeling of pain in his arms and legs, was trying to stretch them out, and stated his discomfort, which should have been apparent. The Paramedics told Plaintiff that he needed to “calm down,” at which point he said, “I’m having trouble breathing.”
  • The Paramedics indicated that they wanted to “give [Plaintiff] something to help [him] calm down,” whereupon Plaintiff asked what they intended to give him. One of the Paramedics responded that this would be midazolam, to which Plaintiff objected, stating that he was “allergic to Versed.”
  • The Paramedic’s response was (to the best of Plaintiff’s recollection) “No, you’re not!” Plaintiff asked him how he would know that, and stated that regardless, he did “not consent” to being administered “any benzodiazepine” (Versed, the trade name for midazolam, is a highly sedating benzodiazepine), explaining that benzodiazepines have a dangerous interaction with one of the drugs [oxycodone] he was prescribed.
  • Plaintiff had furthermore explicitly, and in no uncertain terms, advised the Paramedics that he did not want to be administered any medication unless he had been informed of its name/identity beforehand, and had given the Paramedics specific consent for its administration.
  • Plaintiff heard one of the Paramedics say, either to another, or over radio, that Plaintiff was “tachy,” meaning tachycardic. Said Paramedic then stated to Plaintiff that he was concerned about his fast heart rate, and, to the best of Plaintiff’s recollection, asked him, “If you don’t want us to give you benzodiazepines, what do you think we should give you to slow down your heart rate and help you calm down?” Plaintiff—who graduated from UCLA with his master’s degree in organic chemistry, and who worked for over 15 years as a medical writer for doctors and hospitals—suggested a beta- or alpha-blocker.
  • One of the Paramedics, on information and belief, Defendant JEFFREY BLAKE, then returned with a syringe, which he injected into Plaintiff’s arm.
  • Plaintiff is further informed and believes, and thereon alleges, that what Paramedic Blake injected into Plaintiff was a five-milligram intramuscular dose of midazolam (Versed), which was administered in direct contravention of Plaintiff’s wishes, and without his consent; it also caused him to fall unconscious without Plaintiff having any agency in the process.
  • Plaintiff is informed and believes, and thereon alleges, that just minutes later, Defendant AUGUST WEIDEMAN injected Plaintiff with another five-milligram intramuscular dose of midazolam (Versed), in direct contravention of Plaintiff’s wishes, and without his consent.
  • The Paramedics, and each of them, delivered Plaintiff to Defendant Sherman Oaks Hospital’s emergency room in an unconscious state.
  • Plaintiff is informed and believes, and thereon alleges, that SOH medical staff administered haloperidol (Haldol) decanoate, a major tranquilizer.
  • Plaintiff never consented to being administered Haldol, nor was there any good cause for its use.
  • On the following day, November 16, 2022, Plaintiff awoke at Defendant Sherman Oaks Hospital (hereinafter, “SOH” or the “Hospital”), whereupon he was told he had rhabdomyolysis.
  • Plaintiff was familiar with the term and was completely at a loss to understand why he had developed such a serious form of muscle damage and acute kidney injury (“AKI”).
  • The Hospital, its doctors, and staff failed to inform Plaintiff during his stay that he had also suffered a form of heart attack known as a Type 2 NSTEMI.
  • Plaintifff was shocked to discover this in his medical records, which also disclosed conclusionary, capricious, and manifestly false interpretations of lab results, such as that Plaintiff engaged in “polysubstance abuse,” which included “positive” results for “meth,” “EtOH” (meaning alcohol), and that he should be “discharged to a [homeless] shelter.”
  • When Plaintiff informed the Hospital and its representatives of these grave problems, he received no apology, nor were any of the false statements ever corrected.
  • These medical records are now publicly accessible to other doctors and hospitals, but are manifestly inaccurate and paint Plaintiff in a false light.
  • Plaintiff is informed and believes, and thereon alleges, that the administration of Haldol was the likely proximate cause of his rhabdomyolysis.
  • Plaintiff has not suffered physically, but continues to suffer severe emotional distress as a result of all of Defendants’ acts and omissions.

The suit was filed today. Beyond the factual allegations, the complaint is devoid of the kind of legal allegations necessary for the complaint to move forward. It may be headed for an early exit with an amended complaint being filed soon. 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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