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Ex-UVa patient refiles lawsuit related to forced sample collections

A Charlottesville attorney has refiled a narrowed complaint on behalf of an unidentified woman against the University of Virginia Board of Visitors and the interim chief of the UVa Medical Center.

The complaint again argues that the woman, identified as Jane Doe, had her Fourth and 14th Amendment rights violated by a doctor and other emergency room staff who gave her psychoactive and anti-anxiety drugs, forcefully took a blood sample and then put her in restraints to insert a catheter in her bladder to take a urine sample.

Doe has been the subject of “dozens” of emergency custody orders, according to the complaint, and is currently being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder. Given her mental health history and PTSD treatments, she likely will be taken again to the UVa Medical Center, the complaint argues, the only local hospital where people under emergency orders are taken.

A previous version of the lawsuit was dismissed in October. In an opinion, Judge Norman K. Moon denied a late attempt by the plaintiff to amend the complaint, and the bulk of the defendants — many of whom are medical staff — were dismissed on the basis of having qualified immunity.

A requested injunction against Pamela Sutton-Wallace, the then-CEO of the Medical Center, also was denied. The plaintiff sought to require all physicians, nurses and other medical care providers at the Medical Center to inform patients of the medications being administered and to obtain consent, a request that has been renewed in the new complaint.

The new complaint narrows the list of defendants to the rector of the university, the Board of Visitors and Chris Ghaemmaghani, the interim chief of the Medical Center.

Jeff Fogel, the attorney representing Doe, said this complaint seeks declaratory judgments and injunctions.

“In his opinion, Judge Moon did not decide whether my client’s rights were violated but rather whether the law was clear,” Fogel wrote in an email to The Progress. “That principle called ‘qualified immunity’ is not applicable to this kind of relief, only money damages.”

Doe’s protected liberty to refuse unwanted medical attention and to refuse psychoactive drugs, her due process rights to know what drugs she is being administered and her rights to be free of restraints were all violated, per the complaint.

The complaint seeks declaratory judgments that Doe had her Fourth and 14th Amendment constitutional rights violated. It also seeks an injunction forcing the defendants to require medical staff to respect Doe’s rights, so long as she is competent, and to inform her of medications being administered to her, including their intended effects and potentially adverse effects.

Also requested are attorney fees and other relief deemed reasonable by a jury.

No hearing dates have been set.


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