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Case Name Sampson v. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center DR-MA-0008
Docket / Court 1:06-cv-10973-DPW ( D. Mass. )
State/Territory Massachusetts
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Mental Health (Facility)
Attorney Organization Bazelon Center
Case Summary
On June 8, 2006, an African American woman with psychiatric disabilities filed this complaint in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts against the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (“Beth Israel”) and two employees of the hospital (one whose claim was dropped on June 24, 2008). The ... read more >
On June 8, 2006, an African American woman with psychiatric disabilities filed this complaint in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts against the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (“Beth Israel”) and two employees of the hospital (one whose claim was dropped on June 24, 2008). The plaintiff, represented by the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Center for Public Representation, and private counsel, brought suit under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. She also brought state tort claims for negligence, assault, battery, and intentional or reckless infliction of emotional distress. Specifically, the Plaintiff alleged that she had sought treatment for migraines from the Defendant institution on her doctor’s instructions. While under the Defendants’ care, she was forcibly restrained and assaulted. The Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on June 13, 2007.

The Plaintiff was an individual with a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act because her psychiatric impairments severely limit her day-to-day activities, including caring for herself, working, and interacting with others. Her disabilities stemmed from years of extreme emotional and sexual abuse as a child, and were exasperated by the death of her son shortly after he was born. Beth Israel was familiar with the Plaintiff’s condition, as she had used the clinical and emergency services to treat her conditions for more than two decades.

In March 2005, the Plaintiff began experiencing severe migraines and after several days, during which she spoke with her neurologist and his assistant, went to Beth Israel to meet with her primary care physician. This doctor was unavailable, but advised her to go to the hospital’s emergency department for treatment. After explaining to the triage nurse her symptoms and mentioning she had struggled with safety issues, the Plaintiff was told she needed a psychiatric evaluation and that her migraines would also be treated. Hospital policy at the time required patients in the psychiatric portion of the emergency department to disrobe or be forcibly stripped if they refuse.

The Plaintiff was ultimately forcibly restrained and stripped. She was left alone in the room for several hours before receiving treatment from a mental health professional. The incident caused severe and long lasting mental and emotional harm to the Plaintiff.

For the next two years the parties engaged in extensive litigation over discovery. On November 3, 2008, the Plaintiff moved for summary judgment, but the court never ruled on the motion because on January 13, 2009, the Parties notified the Court that they had reached a tentative settlement agreement and were finalizing details. On March 10, 2009, Judge Douglas Woodlock approved the agreement. We do not have the precise conditions of the settlement agreement, but the hospital agreed to implement a new search policy and a new restraint policy for patients. According to a jury verdict report from Lexis dating from June 4, 2007, the plaintiff was awarded zero damages. The Court retained jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the settlement for two years, subject to extension for substantial non-compliance. No motions were filed suggesting non-compliance during the following two years, and the case was automatically dismissed as of March 10, 2011.

Kaley Hanenkrat - 02/05/2018

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Hospital/Health Department
Mental impairment
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
Assault/abuse by staff
Commitment procedure
Excessive force
Failure to train
Individualized planning
Neglect by staff
Personal injury
Placement in mental health facilities
Reasonable Accommodations
Reasonable Modifications
Reassessment and care planning
Restraints : physical
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Medical care, unspecified
Mental health care, general
Mental health care, unspecified
Self-injurious behaviors
Suicide prevention
Mental Disability
Mental Illness, Unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Type of Facility
Non-government non-profit
Causes of Action Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
State law
Defendant(s) Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Plaintiff Description Plaintiff was a woman with a history of severe sexual abuse who was harmed during an evaluation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She filed a complaint requesting compensation for her injuries and a change to the hospital's restraint and search policies.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Bazelon Center
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2009 - 2011
Filing Year 2006
Case Closing Year 2011
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Sampson v. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

1:06-cv-10973-DPW (D. Mass.)
DR-MA-0008-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/24/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
DR-MA-0008-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/05/2006
Second Amended Complaint [ECF# 73]
DR-MA-0008-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/02/2007
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Beth Israel's New Patient Search Policy
DR-MA-0008-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/06/2009
Beth Israel's New Patient Restraint Policy
DR-MA-0008-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/06/2009
Judges Woodlock, Douglas Preston (D. Mass.)
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bergstresser, Clyde (Massachusetts)
DR-MA-0008-0001 | DR-MA-0008-0004
Bower, Karen A. (District of Columbia)
DR-MA-0008-0001 | DR-MA-0008-0004 | DR-MA-0008-9000
Burnim, Ira Abraham (District of Columbia)
DR-MA-0008-0001 | DR-MA-0008-0004 | DR-MA-0008-9000
Heidorn, Scott M. (Massachusetts)
DR-MA-0008-0004 | DR-MA-0008-9000
Kures, Megan E. (Massachusetts)
Schwartz, Steven J. (Massachusetts)
DR-MA-0008-0001 | DR-MA-0008-0004 | DR-MA-0008-9000
Stefan, Susan (Massachusetts)
DR-MA-0008-0001 | DR-MA-0008-0004 | DR-MA-0008-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Carpenter, Curtis L.S. (Massachusetts)
Flanagan, William J. (Massachusetts)
Hamel, Robert Reid Jr. (Massachusetts)
Linson, Angela L. (Massachusetts)
Powers, Robert P. (Massachusetts)
Rooney, John F. (Massachusetts)

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