Can You Sue for Malpractice If a Doctor Holds You Against Your Will?

Posted on January 30, 2015 by Shapiro Law Group

A Florida man’s 19-year imprisonment in a Nebraska mental hospital has resulted in a lawsuit against his doctors, who the man claims kept him locked up under the false pretense that he was mentally ill. His treatment team decided in 2013 that the incident that led to his long-term treatment happened during a medication-induced psychosis.

In 1993, the man took medication for his back pain, which led to a psychotic episode in which he attempted to take a family’s home, claiming it belonged to his ancestors and was rightfully his. After he was subdued, he was committed to the Lincoln Regional Center, where he remained for 19 years.


The man sued his doctors for medical malpractice, claiming that his doctors did not exercise a quality standard of care. He seeks $22 million in damages for being labeled mentally ill, held against his will and given treatments he did not need. He also wants $760,000 for lost wages and $10 million in punitive damages.

The doctors sought to have the case thrown out, but the judge disagreed. However, the judge only allowed some parts of the man’s argument to go forward. While the man was held in a hospital for 19 years, he was never physically shackled to the bed or otherwise restrained, so he cannot go forward on charges of unnecessary bodily restraint. He also cannot claim that the doctors should have realized that their diagnosis was wrong. He can, however, accuse the doctors of retaliatory action.

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