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Alarming Claim Against Methodist Hospital

HOUSTON (CN) - Married lawyers in their 60s say security guards refused to let them leave The Methodist Hospital, then had the husband taken to jail while the hospital held the woman overnight, injected her with Ativan against her will, and checked her needlessly into its psych ward.

The hospital did this even though a doctor said "he saw no reason why they couldn't leave," Lisa and Russell Guttshall say in their complaint in Harris County Court.

According to the complaint: "On Tuesday, August 17, 2010 Russell Guttshall called 911 for his wife, Lisa Guttshall. They had a dispute, and he feared that she might have overdosed on prescription drugs. Lisa Guttshall was taken by ambulance to Methodist. Russell Guttshall went to Methodist in his car."

The Guttshalls say blood tests showed that Lisa was OK, and they decided to leave the hospital.

However, "As Lisa Guttshall and Russell Guttshall attempted to leave Methodist, a security guard blocked them," the complaint states. "Both Lisa Guttshall and Russell Guttshall are in their sixties, and they posed no threat to this security guard. They simply made it clear that they wanted to leave the hospital, even if it was against medical advice. Both Lisa Guttshall and Russell Guttshall are also lawyers, and they told this security guard that he did not have authority to keep Lisa Guttshall at Methodist against her will.

"Despite this, the security guard grabbed Lisa Guttshall and started pulling her away. Russell Guttshall asked the security guard to leave his wife alone. At this point, other Methodist security guards joined the dispute. On information and belief, at least one of these security officers was an off-duty police officer. Russell Guttshall was grabbed, thrown to the floor and held down against his will. Lisa Guttshall was grabbed and thrown into an enclosed room while she was pleading with security to leave her husband alone. Russell Guttshall was eventually let up and put into the room with Lisa Guttshall.

"At this point, Dr. Chang with Methodist got involved in the dispute. He spoke with Lisa Guttshall and determined she was not a danger to herself or others. He told Lisa Guttshall and Russell Guttshall that he saw no reason why they couldn't leave. After talking with security, Dr. Chang told the Guttshalls that security was insisting that Russell Guttshall be arrested. Lisa Guttshall was also going to be arrested unless she agreed to stay at Methodist."

Then, the Guttshalls ,say an on-duty police officer arrived at the hospital.

"On information and belief, the off-duty officer lied to the on-duty officer about the Guttshalls' conduct in an attempt to anger the on-duty officer. The Guttshalls came out of the room where they had been detained. They were acting peaceably and with their hands out, anticipating being arrested. Without any provocation, the on-duty officer threw Russell Guttshall against a wall, handcuffed him and put a Taser gun against his ribs. The on-duty officer threatened to Taser Russell Guttshall," according to the complaint.

It continues: "The on-duty officer took Russell Guttshall out to the patrol car in handcuffs. Russell Guttshall explained to his officer that he had done nothing wrong, and there was a videotape of the incident which would verify his version of the facts. The on-duty officer said, 'I'll fix that,' got out of the car and went back into Methodist."

The Guttshalls say the officer took Russell to jail, where he told jailers "that Russell had 'beaten up a cop.' He was therefore treated terribly while in jail," the complaint states. "He was placed in the 'bullpen' with numerous other detainees. He was told that his wife had committed suicide. His paperwork was purposefully ignored. When he finally got before a judge at 1:00 p.m. the next day, the judge properly found that there was no probable cause to detain him and he was ordered to be freed. However, jail personnel would not let him go until he had been 'processed,' which they did as slowly as possible. Despite the fact that they had all of his paperwork that same day, Russell Guttshall was not released from prison until 7:00 a.m. on Thursday, August, 19, 2010."

The bizarre complaint continues: "Meanwhile, Lisa Guttshall was being detained against her will at Methodist. The first night she was kept in the room where she had been first detained. Security officers would look at her through the window and laugh at her. She was forcibly injected with Ativan against her will. She was bruised on her legs, arms and inner thighs due to Methodist's treatment of her. She was then checked into the psychiatric ward, which is locked down, against her will. She was finally evaluated by a psychiatrist, who found no reason to continue to detain her. Despite this fact, she was detained in the psychiatric ward of Methodist Hospital until 2:00 p.m. on Thursday August 19, 2010. She was released without a hearing, which would normally be required of a psychiatric patient."

The Guttshalls seek damages for assault, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, negligent hiring, aiding and abetting and conspiracy.

They are represented by Craig Keener.

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