Estate of man suffocated by security officers in E.R. may move their death claim to federal court
Ambulance attendants transporting Edward Collins to the Emergency Room at Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital called in to warn personnel that he was agitated and combative. On arrival he was restrained by two nurses and two security officers; in the process he suffered a cardiac arrest. The medical examiner ultimately concluded that he was suffocated by excessive pressure on his chest.
The family sued the involved personnel in federal court, alleging a violation of constitutional rights, and in state court alleging negligence. Eventually, they sought to transfer the entire case to federal court and the state court judge allowed them to dismiss the state claim "without prejudice." The Defendants appealed, arguing that the family was "forum shopping" to avoid state medical malpractice procedural rules which some federal courts have refused to enforce.
The Court of Appeals rejected the defense claim and upheld the dismissal without prejudice. It noted that the case was properly treated in a unified manner and that Defendants' speculation about motive was not a proper foundation to deny a fundamental procedural right.