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Christenson v. Freeman Health System

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Southwestern Division

December 2, 2014

CRIS CHRISTENSON, Plaintiff,
v.
FREEMAN HEALTH SYSTEM, et al., Defendants

Page 965

For Cris Christenson, Plaintiff: Philip R Quinn, Baird Lightner Millsap, PC, Springfield, MO.

For Freeman Health System, Deanna Marquis, Defendants: Andrew J. Donelan, David E. Overby, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Hyde, Love & Overby LLP, Springfield, MO.

For D.O. James Pletcher, Defendant: C Bradley Tuck, LEAD ATTORNEY, Evans & Dixon-Spfld, Springfield, MO.

For City of Joplin, Missouri, Shawn Dodson, Steven Feken, John Watkins, Cindy Brannan, Defendants: Karl W. Blanchard, Jr, LEAD ATTORNEY, Blanchard, Robertson, Mitchell & Carter, Joplin, MO.

Page 966

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS

GREG KAYS, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

These consolidated cases allege that Plaintiff Cris Christenson (" Christenson" ) was assaulted in his hotel room, taken to a hospital against his will, committed to a mental health hold without good cause, and given deficient medical treatment while there. Pending before the Court are the motions of Defendants James Pletcher (" Pletcher" ), Freeman Health System (" the Hospital" ), and Deanna Marquis (" Marquis" ) to dismiss the Complaint (Docs. 8, 25). For the reasons stated below, the motions are DENIED.

Background

Construing the Complaint liberally and drawing all reasonable inferences in Christenson's favor, the Court finds the facts to be as follows for purposes of resolving the pending motion to dismiss. On June 5, 2012, Christenson checked into a hotel room in Joplin, Missouri. While Christenson ate dinner and watched television in the room, his estranged wife called the front desk and told the desk clerk, falsely, that Christenson might be suicidal. The desk clerk called the Joplin Police Department, which in turn called Christenson's wife. Christenson's wife told the police department, again falsely, that Christenson had informed her that he was suicidal, was drinking alcohol, and had overdosed on prescription pills.

Police officers went to the hotel and forced their way into Christenson's room. The officers searched the room but did not find any alcohol, prescription pills, or any other evidence to corroborate the allegation that Christenson was a danger to himself. Christenson tried to explain to the officers that he was not suicidal, and that his wife had made the false report because she was angry with him. Undeterred, the officers deployed a Taser against Christenson and took him to the Hospital for a mental health evaluation.

Upon arriving at the Hospital, Christenson told Defendant Therese McBride (" McBride" ), a Hospital employee, that he was not suicidal and was being wrongfully held. McBride, without examining Christenson or finding medical evidence that he was a danger to himself or others, admitted him to the Hospital for an involuntary mental health hold. The Hospital and its employees ignored Christenson's repeated requests to be released, to speak to an attorney, and to be evaluated by a licensed mental health professional. Instead, they continued to detain Christenson in the mental health unit, where Pletcher, a physician employed by the Hospital, diagnosed him with Bipolar Type I and prescribed a certain drug. Marquis, a Hospital employee of some kind, coerced Christenson into taking the drug, without explaining the drug's side effects.

The Hospital held Christenson for approximately thirty hours before it allowed a licensed mental health professional to evaluate him. The professional quickly determined that Christenson posed no threat to himself or others and ordered Christenson's release from the Hospital.

Christenson sued the Hospital, the City of Joplin, and certain members of the Joplin Police Department in Case No. 3:13-CV-5073-DGK (" Christenson I " ). A little more than a year later, he sued the Hospital, McBride, Pletcher, and Marquis in this case on claims of negligence, false imprisonment, and assault and battery. The Court has since consolidated ...


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