The board of directors on Tuesday voted to settle a federal lawsuit filed by a man who contended that emergency responders "kidnapped" him from his home and took him to the hospital against his will.
The total settlement was for $275,000, but the cost was to be shared by Manchester and South Windsor, Manchester Town Attorney Ryan Barry said after the vote. Barry said he could not say how much each town will pay until he talked with other officials.
Arthur Schofield sued both towns, the Ambulance Service of Manchester and Manchester Memorial Hospital, in 2012. He said police and medical personnel forced him from his South Windsor home because they mistakenly believed he was in danger of having a heart attack, according to the original complaint. The suit said officers slammed Schofield to the floor of his home, handcuffed him, and transported him against his will to the hospital.
Schofield claimed 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, suffered personal injury, economic loss, humiliation, mortification and anxiety, among other injuries.
The tale unfolded in November 2010 when Schofield, age 53 at the time and 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, according to the suit.
Without telling Schofield, Underwood had called 911 for an ambulance, the lawsuit said. Schofield refused to go, saying he knew he was not having any heart problems. He signed an "against medical advice" release that Underwood provided, according to the suit. Outside in the parking lot, Schofield told ambulance personnel that he was not going with them, got in his car and drove home.
Manchester and South Windsor police were informed about Schofield's refusal. A South Windsor police report, which was attached to the suit, says Michael Magrey, a Manchester police officer at the time, 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," according to the lawsuit.
Magrey wrote in his report 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. Suddenly, Magrey "violently grabbed" Schofield's right arm and told him, "You are going to the hospital and this is not up for discussion," according to the suit. 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," according to the suit.