Conn. Man Files Suit: Says Responders 'Forced Medical Treatment'
March 16--MANCHESTER -- In his lawsuit against the towns of Manchester and South Windsor, a 53-year-old man contends that police and other emergency responders "kidnapped" him from his home and took him to the hospital against his will.
Filed Wednesday in the Manchester town clerk's office, the civil suit in Hartford Superior Court contends that Arthur Schofield was forcibly removed from his South Windsor home in 2010 because police and medical personnel mistakenly believed he was in danger of having a heart attack. Schofield contends that officers slammed him to the floor of his home, handcuffed him and transported him by ambulance to Manchester Memorial Hospital.
Schofield claims violations of his rights to due process and privacy and against unreasonable seizure and "forced medical treatment" under the U.S. and state constitutions. The suit contends that Schofield and his wife, Nancy Matthews, have suffered personal injury, economic loss, humiliation, mortification and anxiety, among other injuries.
The complaint, which also names Manchester Memorial Hospital and Ambulance Service of Manchester as defendants, seeks unspecified money damages and mandatory training in detention and use of force for the towns' police officers.
The tale unfolded in November 2010 when Schofield, a smoker for 40 years, felt an ache in his lungs. He set up an initial appointment with Dr. Michael Underwood in Manchester on Dec. 23, according to the suit. After examining Schofield, Underwood recommended that he go to Hartford Hospital for a chest X-ray to rule out any heart problems, the suit says.
Without telling Schofield, Underwood had called 911 for an ambulance, the suit says. Schofield refused to go, saying he knew he was not having any heart problems, the suit says. He signed an "against medical advice" release that Underwood provided, the suit says. Outside in the parking lot, Schofield told ambulance personnel that he was not going with them, got in his car and drove home, the suit says.
Manchester and South Windsor police were informed about Schofield's refusal. A South Windsor police report, which was attached to the suit, says Manchester police Officer Michael Magrey advised a South Windsor officer that Underwood had ordered Schofield to go to the hospital and that if he refused to go voluntarily, he would be committed "per a Police Emergency Examination request," the suit says. Magrey wrote in his report, which also was attached to the lawsuit, that Underwood's assistant told him that Schofield was under doctor's orders to receive medical treatment "and that it was extremely dangerous for him to be driving."
South Windsor and Manchester officers went to Schofield's Kelly Road home, where he again refused to go to the hospital, the suit says. Suddenly, Magrey "violently grabbed" Schofield's right arm and told him, "You are going to the hospital and this is not up for discussion," the suit says. Magrey slammed Schofield to the floor and handcuffed him, according to the complaint.
Magrey wrote in his report that he could smell alcohol on Schofield, who became agitated and angry as Magrey tried to persuade him to go to the hospital. As Schofield began to walk away, Magrey wrote that he grabbed his arm "as I did not want him to lock himself in a room, or go for a weapon as he was very angry." When Schofield resisted, according to the police report, he was "taken to the ground to more effectively control his arms. I could see that Schofield's head hit the floor when he was taken to the ground."
Schofield was taken to Manchester Memorial Hospital, where he was examined and tests were run.
"Finally the plaintiff was released and discharged when all the testing revealed what the plaintiff knew all along -- that he was not having a heart attack," the suit says.
Representatives of the defendant agencies either could not be reached for or would not comment on the pending litigation.
Copyright 2012 - The Hartford Courant, Conn.