Motown Star Sues Hospital Over Unreal Straitjacket Screw-Up

Pedro Becerra/Redferns/Getty
Pedro Becerra/Redferns/Getty

The lead singer of a legendary Motown group has filed a federal lawsuit against a Michigan hospital after he says he was deemed “mentally ill” and restrained against his will by emergency room staff who didn’t believe he was a celebrity.

Alexander Morris of the Four Tops was rushed to the Ascension Oakland-Macomb Hospital in April 2023 with difficulty breathing, chest pain, and a well-documented history of cardiac disease. But after he told a nurse and a security guard that he had security concerns due to his status as a member of the Four Tops, his lawsuit notes, things took a nightmarish turn.

A doctor immediately ordered a psychiatric evaluation and “made the decision to remove him from oxygen… despite his clear symptoms of cardiac distress and significant medical history,” the lawsuit states. Filed Monday in a Michigan federal court, the lawsuit names the hospital and two of its staffers, a nurse and a security guard, as defendants.

Morris alleges that racial discrimination was at the heart of the hospital’s decision to assume he was mentally ill and ignore his very real health issues, “namely a severe heart condition and pneumonia.”

In the lawsuit, he alleges that no attempts were made to verify his identity, and when he “asked if he could prove his identity by showing his identification card… the White male security guard ordered him to ‘sit his Black ass down.’”

Even after Morris’ wife visited and informed a security officer that he really was a member of the Four Tops and was not delusional, “he was left in the restraints and denied medical treatment,” the lawsuit says. The psych eval was finally canceled after Morris was able to show a nurse video of himself performing at the Grammys, but by that time he’d already been restrained and deprived of oxygen for 90 minutes, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says Morris “was offered a $25.00 gift card to Meijers as an apology for the dehumanization and discrimination he faced at the hands of the hospital.”

He did not accept it. Morris says he suffered damages of at least $75,000 due to the hospital’s “disparate treatment” of him.

“Plaintiff was denied medical care for his true medical emergency and was misdiagnosed and mistreated due to his race, and/or his true diagnosis was delayed, he was subjected to disparate treatment based upon his race, and his medical condition was worsened and/or exacerbated due to racial discrimination,” the lawsuit alleges.

He also accuses the hospital of gross negligence and false imprisonment for restraining him against his will. The hospital previously issued a statement on Morris’ allegations saying the case was “under investigation.”

“The health, safety and well-being of our patients, associates and community members remains our top priority. We remain committed to honoring human dignity and acting with integrity and compassion for all persons and the community. We do not condone racial discrimination of any kind,” the statement said.

Morris joined the Four Tops, known for hits including “Baby I Need Your Loving” and “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” in 2019. Three of the original members have died since the group was first formed in the 1960s, though the sole surviving original member, Abdul “Duke” Fakir, continues to perform with the group.

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