TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The family of a Florida woman who died outside a hospital after she was forcibly removed by police has filed a federal lawsuit against those who forced her exit.
Frances Scott, who is the personal representative of the estate of Barbara Dawson, filed it against Calhoun Liberty Hospital, including two of its former employees, the City of Blountstown and former Blountstown Police officer.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Tallahassee on Saturday, alleges four counts — false imprisonment, lack of emergency care, battery and a civil rights claim.
The Tallahassee law firm Parks & Crump, which has handled cases including the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, is representing the Dawson family.
"Up until this point neither one (the hospital and city) has been willing to talk. That left us with no choice but to file against both of them," attorney Daryl Parks said on Monday.
Dawson, a 57-year old black woman, was treated Dec. 21 at the hospital. She was discharged, but refused to leave because she said she had difficulty breathing. John Tadlock, a white Blountstown Police officer, handcuffed her in the emergency room and she was charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing. She collapsed when Tadlock tried to put her in a patrol car.
Drew Peacock, an emergency medical technician, and Jennifer Waldorff, a nurse, assisted Tadlock in trying to get Dawson into the car after she collapsed. Less than 20 minutes after Dawson collapsed, she was taken back to the emergency room after she was reassessed by a doctor. Dawson died about 90 minutes later.
The medical examiner's office found that Dawson died from a blood clot due to being excessively overweight.
Blountstown Police Chief Mark Mallory said that Tadlock resigned on March 11. Last month, Glenn Hess, a state attorney for Florida's 14th Judicial Circuit, concluded his investigation of a Florida Department of Law Enforcement summary into the case and said that Tadlock's actions were "appropriate under the circumstances and there was no criminal law violation."
Calhoun Liberty Hospital was fined $45,000 by Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration for deficiencies in care that AHCA Secretary Elizabeth Dudek called egregious.
Waldorff and Taylor were fired by the hospital. A search of Florida Department of Health records shows that Waldorff has an administrative complaints filed against her that could include the revocation of her nursing license.
Hospital spokeswoman Sandi Poreda said they are reviewing the lawsuit and look forward to having the opportunity to respond to the allegations.
"In the wake of the incident with Ms. Dawson, our hospital has made substantial improvements in staff training as well as policies and procedures," Poreda said. "We have also worked hard to regain the trust of our community, working hand in hand with our hospital task force to identify ways we can address community concerns."