CHARLOTTESVILLE — An unidentified woman has filed to appeal a lawsuit against University of Virginia Medical Center staff following the suit’s dismissal by a U.S. District Court judge last month.
The woman, identified as Jane Doe in the suit, claims a doctor and other emergency room staff violated her Fourth and 14th Amendment rights by giving her psychoactive and anti-anxiety drugs, forcefully taking a blood sample and restraining her to insert a catheter into her bladder to take a urine sample.
The woman was brought to the ER on an emergency custody order after a suicide attempt, documents show.
On Tuesday, Doe filed a notice of appeal to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, citing as grounds the October dismissal of the case and an earlier ruling dismissing one of the defendants on the grounds that he had qualified immunity.
Last month, Judge Norman K. Moon agreed to dismiss the lawsuit and wrote in a memorandum opinion that his decision was due in part to a late attempt by the plaintiff to amend the complaint. The bulk of the defendants were dismissed for qualified immunity under the currently pleaded facts, Moon wrote.
He continued: “Plaintiff’s original complaint fails to establish that she has standing to ask for a court injunction that would require the Medical Center to respect, inter alia, her right to refuse medication and treatment. Further, Plaintiff has not shown good cause to permit her an eleventh hour amendment — made after a year of litigation and ten months beyond the forty-five-day deadline to amend her complaint — to introduce a request for a declaratory judgment as well as new factual allegations to bolster her claims for relief.”
Dr. Scott A. Syverud, who was the woman’s attending physician, was dismissed as a defendant at an earlier hearing after Moon decided he had qualified immunity.
Syverud’s earlier motion for dismissal shed more light on the incident, detailing that the woman was told that blood and urine samples were needed to assess her condition and they could be collected over her objection. He said she became violent and needed to be sedated and restrained to collect samples.
“[The woman] became combative and required physical and chemical restraint with Ativan, Benadryl and Zyprexa ordered by an [emergency department] physician,” the doctor’s filing states.
A requested injunction against Pamela Sutton-Wallace, the outgoing CEO of UVA Medical Center, also was denied. The plaintiff sought to require all physicians, nurses and other health care providers at the medical center to inform patients of the medications being administered and to obtain consent.
The suit also sought compensatory damages and attorney fees to be determined by a jury.
The 4th Circuit has not yet decided whether Doe’s appeal has merit.