A Pennsylvania man is suing a medical center and the police after he was wrongfully arrested and forced to take psychotropic drugs. He claims he told police and medical personnel they were mistaking him for somebody else.
“The experience that I went through, this should never happen to anybody. It’s very simple to check ID,” Eugene Wright, 63, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “These people need to be held responsible.”
Wright said he had just finished his shift at an auto parts store in June 2017 when two Meadville police officers and a representative of Stairways Behavioral Health told him he had been making threats to himself and others at “his” orthopedic office earlier that morning.
According to the complaint filed on January 3, the police officers refused to verify Wright’s identity. Instead, he was handcuffed and driven to the Meadville medical center. Medical personnel then said they were going to inject him with drugs, despite his protests that they had the wrong person.
Wright says he kept asking police and the orderlies to check his wallet for identification, or call the auto shop where he worked. Police, doctors and other medical personnel refused. Wright said police told him he would be held down if he refused to cooperate. He gave in after ten minutes of arguing, and a nurse injected him with the antipsychotic medication Haldol and Ativan, which is used to treat anxiety disorders.
“I was powerless. I had no control of what was going on down there,” Wright told WXPI News.
He didn’t remember leaving the hospital. He later found out that his wife drove him home.
The suit says the emergency room realized they had the wrong Eugene Wright only after they checked patient records, so “they made the incorrect assumption that the patient who was making threats was [the plaintiff].”
Wright said the hospital later apologized to him and gave him a $50 gift card for a steakhouse. The crisis center also apologized and gave him a $25 gift card for Walmart. He used the gift cards, but still suffers from the incident.
“I have a very hard time sleeping,” he said. “I have lost almost 40 pounds.”
He maintains that the entire incident could have been avoided had police or medical personnel verified his identity. “Right from the beginning, I offered — ‘Please, check my identity. Call my work’,” he said. “Nobody would do that. Not even the hospital. No one would look at any of that. They just kept insisting they had the right person.”
The suit, filed by attorneys Al Lindsay and Jessica Tully of behalf of Wright and his wife, accuses the hospital and the crisis center of negligence and intentionally causing him distress.