Kia Franklin

Access Denied: No Health Care, No Lawyer, No Justice for One SF Man

A recent commenter on TortDeform shared his harrowing experience (in this comments thread) fighting for his right to mental health care after being denied emergency medical attention and jailed for insisting on treatment. His story demonstrates once again the importance of having access to the courts, including representation in important civil cases if you can't afford it, a right currently not provided but which is gaining national attention.

A recent SF Bay Guardian article provides the details of Jason Grant Garza's experience. Here's a summary of his experience:

** Garza went to the hospital for emergency mental health treatment and was put in jail for refusing to leave after being denied even a preliminary examination. While in jail a nurse determined that Garza indeed was in need of care. He was strip-searched and left naked in his cell, then brought back to the same hospital that had previously denied him care.

** Garza requested his arrest record, which a lawyer for the Sheriff's Office denied in a letter signed under the pen-name R.N. Ratched--as in the nurse character from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Understandably, Garza did not find this "humor" appropriate, so he went to San Francisco's Sunshine Ordinance Task Force to fight the denial of his records and the mockingly unprofessional conduct with which this denial was executed, and the task force agreed.

** After the ordeal, Garza sued the city, SF General, the triage nurse that denied him care, and other city employees, contending they violated his rights under a law regarding emergency medical treatement. He could not afford a lawyer, so he represented himself and lost. However, his six years of fighting for an investigation into his experience ended when the hospital paid a $5,000 fine and admitted that they "did not provide [Garza] with an appropriate medical screening examination on April 22, 2001," in a settlement with the Office of the Inspector General. (Source: SF Bay Guardian article)

It is disturbing that because Garza could not afford a lawyer he was forced to choose between doing nothing and representing himself in court. It forces reflection upon what the outcome would have been had he been able to consult an experienced attorney. One also has to wonder what would have happened if Garza had not been so persistent about demanding care and holding the hospital accountable after his outrageous experience. Is a $5,000 fine enough to prevent this from happening to others in the future?

Kia Franklin: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 12:15 PM, Jul 09, 2007 in
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Kia: The hospital paid a fine, making their malfeasance a per se tort, by its violation of a relevant law or regulation. The patient lost his case, not on merits, because the merits are per se, but likely on procedure.

The biased land pirate on the bench has criminally converted the chattel of the public, the law, to a rent seeking enterprise for lawyers. If he had paid a lawyer a fee, he would have done better, you are claiming.

Thank you for reporting this case.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | July 9, 2007 7:33 PM

Wait a minute ... I did represent myself in court, asked the judge as a disabled medicare receiptant for a lawyer ... stated the truth ... was denied due process [told I could not speak for my tesimony did not carry the weight of opinion expert testimony; (also see city attorney paperwork making such claim); my asking the judge where was MY DUE PROCESS.] I have the paperwork .... Let's not forget my false 5150 at my deposition. Also the comment about finding a lawyer, what a farce ... I can show a list of them that I went to ... fight the city, a cap on malpractice, etc. There are two systems of JUSTICE (JUSTICE for the RICH - Scooter Libby and the other for JUST US!) Now ask me if the hospital has called me after admitting liablity in order to remedy, compensate, apologize ... when I called them ... I was told to file another complaint.

Posted by: Jason Grant Garza | July 12, 2007 12:31 PM

Dear Kia: While on the subject of lawyers ... ask me if a single lawyer has called San Francisco Bay Guardian in order to get my name and number. Since I now have a copy of the settlement agreement signed 4/19/2007 ... I would like to find a lawyer to represent me for the fraud and perjury against the city, city attorney and hospital and to represent me against Medicare and the governmental agencies that had a duty to me and failed. I am asking that you allow this post ... Jason Grant Garza

Posted by: Jason Grant Garza | July 12, 2007 12:59 PM