Court of the Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that the district court erred in denying paramedic's motion for summary judgment in plaintiff-decedent's section 1983 action. Plaintiff’s estate alleged that paramedic had violated plaintiff-decedent's Fourth Amendment rights when the paramedic administered sedative to decedent to calm decedent down after decedent was discovered by police lying prone while nude in street and being combative with police.
Overview: Police responded to a report that decedent was nude, belligerent, and roaming the streets. Police tased decedent after multiple verbal warnings, however, decedent pulled the wires out of the taser before eventually being restrained. Paramedic then arrived on the scene, assessed decedent and suspected decedent was on amphetamines. Decedent was then administered a sedative by the paramedic in order to calm down. Once in the ambulance, paramedic saw that decedent was not breathing, performed CPR, and restored decedents heartbeat and breathing after several minutes. Decedent lost brain function and died eight days later. Although decedent died shortly after sedative was administered, case law did not clearly establish at time of 2014 incident that paramedic had "seized" arrestee or that paramedic was subject to 4th Amendment limits on excessive force by sedating arrestee, who otherwise appeared to paramedic as suffering from medical emergency prior to officials taking arrestee to hospital. Also, plaintiff's state-law medical malpractice claims against paramedic and others should be dismissed without prejudice, where plaintiff had failed to comply with Indiana law requiring plaintiff to submit case to medical review panel prior to filing instant lawsuit, since said directive is substantive feature of Indiana statute that must be enforced in federal court.
Outcomes: With tens of thousands of paramedics and emergency medical technicians employed by city or county fire departments, municipalities will find this ruling of interest as it addresses whether a paramedic who administered a sedative to a naked, belligerent man who was resisting police arrest was subject to Fourth Amendment limits on excessive force. Further, state administrative procedures for the filing of state law medical malpractice complaints do apply to federal civil rights litigation.
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