Press Releases

July 06, 2015

Lawsuit Demands L.A. Area Hospital End "Patient Dumping," Uphold Responsibility for Patient Care and Custody

JULY 6, 2015--In a case that highlights the continued need to ensure L.A. area hospitals discharge our community's most vulnerable people with dignity and humanity, a former patient is suing Glendale Adventist Medical Center (GAMC), seeking compensation and reforms to its practices for discharging homeless mentally ill patients.

On June 6, 2014, GAMC prematurely discharged patient Rafaeli Apollinaire without his consent. At the time of his discharge, Apollinaire, 43, was psychiatrically unstable, suicidal, depressed and homeless. Despite his repeated requests to be released in Glendale near his family, GAMC staff coerced Apollinaire into a cab, threatening him with "a shot" if he continued to protest; refused to tell him where they were taking him; and dumped him alone and afraid on a corner of Skid Row.  The hospital failed to confirm placement in a shelter, and didn't provide Mr. Apollinaire with the prescription medications and chest x-ray that he would need to be admitted to a shelter.

The case, filed last week in L.A. Superior Court by Public Counsel and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP serving as pro bono counsel on behalf of Apollinaire, seeks compensation and reforms to GAMC practices to ensure that the hospital's failure to appropriately treat and protect a dependent adult in its care and custody is never repeated.

In spite of a city ordinance forbidding the practice and widespread public attention and criticism, GAMC's handling of Apollinaire's discharge highlights that incidents of area hospitals dumping vulnerable patients on the dangerous streets of Skid Row, where homeless people suffering from mental illness are particularly vulnerable to victimization and exploitation by criminal predators, persist. 

 

"Every life matters. If we really are the society we think we are, we should be doing something to make sure our most vulnerable get the help they need," said Patrick Dunlevy, Directing Attorney of Public Counsel's Consumer Law Project (CLP).

"The law places responsibility on hospitals for the care of dependent patients like Mr. Apollinaire," said Michael D. Kibler, a litigation partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP in Los Angeles. "We must ensure that the hospitals in our community uphold their legal obligations to treat every patient-especially the mentally ill homeless-with appropriate care."

For more details on the case, read the complaint here

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