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Royal Oak police are guilty of over-reacting to man's medical seizure

Scott McKenna is a single father who lives in Royal Oak with his three daughters.  His family called 911 when they observed that he was suffering from a seizure in the early morning of March 18, 2004.  Police arrived before the EMTs and their response to McKenna's "breathing difficulties" was to instruct him to "stand up and put his pants on." According to his 14 year-old daughter, McKenna several times started to comply with officers' commands before sagging back to his bed.  At that point, officers hand-cuffed his wrists and ankles and his daughter claimed he began to struggle with them in response.

The officers claimed that when they woke McKenna he reacted violently and pushed one of the officers, and that was why they handcuffed him.  Apparently the jury did not believe the officers' account, since they awarded McKenna a verdict for $250,000.00 in pain, humiliation, and other damages including medical expenses.  Perhaps they preferred the daughter's story in part because while McKenna was handcuffed, officers took the opportunity to search his home "looking for prescription or illegal drugs." 

The officers appealed the verdict, arguing that their conduct was immune from liability because they were in the process of providing medical care to McKenna in a non-law enforcement role.  They argued that McKenna was actually claiming medical malpractice because the officers merely "mis-treated" McKenna's medical condition.  Noting the accompanying search and the absurd claim that hand-cuffing McKenna's wrists and ankles was treatment for seizuring, the Sixth Circuit rejected the officers' appellate claims.  McKenna will not receive the compensation awarded by the jury, however.  He did not object when the trial court reduced the non-economic aspect of the award from $250,000.00 to $10,000.00 and therefore he is bound by the lower court's "remittur" decision.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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