June 14, 2024

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Four Tops singer Alexander Morris accused the hospital of racial discrimination

The lead singer of the Motown band Four Tops has sued a Michigan hospital and two employees, alleging racial discrimination after they wrongly treated him as if he was mentally ill when he identified himself as a member of the group.

Alexander Morris, who is black, said in his lawsuit: Staff at Ascension Macomb-Oakland Hospital in southeastern Michigan assumed he was delusional after he arrived at the hospital in an ambulance with “obvious symptoms of cardiac distress” in April 2023.

Morris, 53, said that after identifying himself as a member of the Four Tops, workers denied him medical treatment by cutting off his oxygen — instead ordering him to undergo a psychological evaluation and putting him in a straitjacket. After 90 minutes, the singer was released from the restraints when he was able to show a nurse a video of himself performing at the Grammy Awards, the lawsuit alleged.

Ascension said in a statement Tuesday that it would not comment on pending litigation. “The health, safety and well-being of our patients, colleagues and community members remains our top priority. We remain committed to respecting human dignity and acting with integrity and compassion for all people and the community. We do not,” she said. Condoning racial discrimination of any kind.”

Many doctors and experts say racial inequality in access to medical care is a deep-rooted problem that can have serious consequences. Black Americans die younger than their white counterparts, and have higher rates of death from heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma, and diabetes.

Morris is suing for at least $75,000 in damages, alleging he was misdiagnosed and mistreated because of his race by the hospital, a nurse and a security guard.

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According to the lawsuit, Morris arrived at the hospital on April 7, 2023, in an ambulance, suffering from difficulty breathing and chest pain.

“When he came to the emergency room [Morris] “He informed a nurse and a security guard that he was a member of the famous Motown band the Four Tops and that he currently had security concerns due to stalkers and fans,” the lawsuit states.

The Four Tops – who catapulted Detroit's contemporary soul scene to international fame in the 1960s as a hit machine for Motown Records – continue to tour with founding star Duke Fakir.

The lawsuit alleged that hospital staff “mistakenly assumed he was mentally ill” and “made the decision to take him off oxygen and conduct a psychiatric evaluation instead.”

The lawsuit alleges that when he tried to resolve the error by asking to show his ID, a white security guard asked him to “sit on his black butt.”

Morris alleges that instead of receiving “much needed” treatment for a heart emergency, his belongings were removed and he was placed in a restraint mechanism under the supervision of several security guards, who denied his requests to seek treatment elsewhere. Morris “instead…received an intentional misdiagnosis and received a lower standard of medical care based on his race which amounted to racial discrimination and delayed his actual diagnosis.”

After Morris showed the nurse a video of his performance at the Grammy Awards, the lawsuit said, “The nurse realized that Plaintiff was a member of the Four Tops, and the nurse went and asked the emergency room doctor to notify him.” The emergency room doctor came back and said he had canceled the psychiatric evaluation, the suit said.

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Morris was eventually diagnosed with a heart problem requiring a possible transplant and pneumonia, and that he suffered three seizures during his hospital stay, the lawsuit said.

As an apology, the hospital offered him a $25 gift card to buy a supermarket, but he declined, Morris said.