Four Tops singer sues hospital alleging racial discrimination after he says he was placed in a ‘restraining jacket’

The lead singer of the Motown group the Four Tops has filed a federal lawsuit against Ascension Macomb Oakland Hospital in Warren, Michigan, alleging racial discrimination.

Alexander Morris says he was put in a restraining jacket and initially denied treatment for a medical emergency after he arrived at the hospital in an ambulance. He is also suing a nurse and a security guard who worked for the hospital.

According to the lawsuit, the hospital and nurse “blatantly refused to provide (Morris) with medical treatment due to his race and/or perceived mental disability. Instead, (Morris) received a deliberate misdiagnosis and received a lower standard of medical care based on his race that amounted to racial discrimination and delayed his actual diagnosis.”

On April 7, 2023, Morris was transported to Ascension Macomb Oakland Hospital in an ambulance and “presented to the emergency room with difficulty breathing and chest pain, he was on oxygen, and he had a significant known history of cardiac disease including the placement of stints and defibrillator,” the lawsuit states.

At the hospital, Morris “informed a nurse and a security guard that he was a member of the famous Motown group the ‘Four Tops’, and that he had current security concerns due to stalkers and fans,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims the nurse, security guard and an emergency room doctor “racially profiled him and/or profiled him based upon a perceived disability and placed an order for a psychological evaluation” because they didn’t believe Morris was “a singer or member of the ‘Four Tops.’”

CNN has reached out to Ascension Macomb Oakland Hospital for comment.

An ER doctor decided to “remove him from oxygen and pursue a psychiatric evaluation instead, despite his clear symptoms of cardiac distress and significant medical history,” the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit states “a security guard was instructed to ensure he was placed into a restraining jacket and/or a four-point restraint mechanism.”

Morris told CNN he told the hospital staff, “I have never been so demeaned, so dehumanized and so disrespected in all my life.”

According to the lawsuit, Morris attempted to prove his identity, offering to show his identification, but was told by the security guard, who is White, to “sit his Black a** down.”

The lawsuit states Morris “asked to have the restraint device removed and asked for his personal belongings back so he could leave and seek treatment at another hospital,” but was told he was not free to leave.

Morris’ attorney Maurice Davis told CNN his client was going through “a clear medical emergency where he’s having chest pain, he has a history of heart problems, a history of strokes. A situation like that calls for swift medical intervention,” Davis said.

According to the lawsuit, Morris was denied medical care until a nurse allowed him to show her a video of a Four Tops performance at the Grammys.

The lawsuit states, “The restraint jacket was finally removed, and he was placed back on oxygen. (Morris) was restrained for approximately an hour and a half.”

Morris said his identity was proven almost four hours after he arrived at the hospital.

“I said, all it took was two minutes to verify that I am who I am,” Morris told CNN. “Instead of you verifying who I am, you tell me I’m crazy and want to send me to the psych evaluation department.”

The lawsuit states Morris was offered a $25 gift card to a supermarket as an apology by the hospital, but he refused the offer.

“My anxiety, everything, was through the roof. I would not eat, I was afraid to eat anything brought to me that was not sealed,” he told CNN.

Morris said he believed he was “close to death” because of his health history.

“Because I had several heart attacks and things like that … my heart was already compromised,” Morris told CNN.

Morris said he had three seizures and stayed in Ascension Macomb Oakland Hospital for about five days because he was too sick to be moved to another hospital. It’s unclear if the alleged actions by the hospital contributed to Morris’ subsequent medical issues.

“If a person is coming in for help, I don’t care what their nationality, their ethnicity, their religious beliefs or their sexual orientation — if they come to your emergency room for help, help them first,” Morris said.

Davis told CNN the hospital should compensate Morris for what his client endured. According to the lawsuit, Morris is seeking compensation for damages from the defendants to be determined by a jury in excess of $75,000.

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