Hospital Can’t Duck Jail-|Suicide Claims, for Now

     SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) – A federal judge denied a hospital’s bid to dismiss claims that it refused to help a mentally ill man who later killed a taxi driver and then hanged himself in jail.
     Joshua Claypole showed up at the Community Hospital of Monterey County requesting help, having been a patient at the facility before. Claypoole had just been released from the Redwood City County jail after having his car impounded because he was suspected of driving under the influence.
     But instead of helping 20-year-old Claypoole, members of the hospital’s staff called the police and ordered him to leave. Several hours later, the man fatally stabbed a taxi driver, Daniel Garcia Huerta.
     While in the custody of the Seaside and Monterey Police Departments – and later the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department – Claypoole exhibited signs of mental illness that included bizarre behavior and claiming to hear voices. But none of the law enforcement agencies ever evaluated him for mental illness.
     Jail officers eventually put Claypoole on suicide watch at the request of his attorney but returned him to the general population for reasons that remain unclear. Hours later, officers found the man hanging in his cell from a noose made of torn bed sheets.
     Claypoole’s mother, Silvia Guersenzvaig, sued San Mateo and Monterey Counties, several local and county law enforcement officers and agencies, and two hospitals – including Community Hospital – for their involvement in her son’s death. Last month, U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman refused to dismiss many Guersenzvaig’s claims against the city and county defendants because so many questions remain about her son’s death.
     In a single-page order Wednesday, Freeman also denied Community Hospital’s bid to get out of the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. She wrote that Guersenzvaig’s claims against the hospital “arise out of the same nucleus of facts as the remainder of the action and that there are no applicable exceptions to the exercise of supplemental jurisdiction.”
     Freeman gave the community hospital 14 days to file its answer.

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