Newsletter (18 January 2004)

Fwd: NEWS: Jury Awards Psychiatric Survivor for Forced Drugs, Lock Up

Hi Klaus:  Please post this on your Citizens Initiative Omega.

The implications of this jury award of close to one million dollars to the plaintiff Robert Lee Marion has terrific legal implications for those of us who have suffered very similar medical mishaps of finding ourselves locked up/deprived of our freedom and involuntarily plus inappropriately medicated when we present with EHS symptoms.  

Due recognition is given in the published account of the court case (see attachment) to the essential contribution for its success made by a team of third year law students led by Professor William Brooks, Touro Law School, Huntington, New York. Professor Brooks was the plaintiff's attorney. The positive feed back by some members of this student team and career benefits for them from working on such a ground breaking legal area as the human rights of those medically labelled/mislabelled mentally ill, "sectioned" and forced to submit to various dangerous and inappropriate medical treatments are  also highlighted.

I recall that it was also a group of U.S. law students who took on the project some years ago of establishing the innocence of a destitute man on death-row. Apart from any career ennobling benefits,  how great they must have felt at winning the freedom and right to life of this legal victim. I also and more wryly recall that among the various legal agencies I petitioned for help in Ireland a few years ago  to  bring my own similar (but based on EHS misdiagnosis: see Citizens Initiative Omega postings of 13/12/03, 16/1/03, 13/2/03, et al) case to court was the Law Department in University College Cork. And I specifically suggested to the Law faculty member that it could make for a very interesting group law student project as it would be breaking new legal ground.  My plea was politely but firmly rejected.

Lastly, I suggest that EHS patients who have suffered similar medical mishaps of being snap-judged mentally ill, locked up, etc should now contact Professor William Brooks at Touro Law Centre, Huntington, New York. It would appear to me that an important legal precedent for favourable legal judgements in this medical area has now been established.

Best,  Imelda, Cork,  Ireland


NEWS: Jury Awards Psychiatric Survivor for Forced Drugs, Lock Up

Mind Your Freedom - 14 January 2004 - please forward

Robert Lee Marion, Psychiatric Survivor, Wins $975,000 Jury Judgment After Being Locked Up in Psychiatric Unit and Forcibly Drugged.

Today's _Newsday_ Article on Victory is Below.

How You May Congratulate Plaintiff, Attorney & the Unique Legal Clinic that Won the Victory.

Robert Lee Marion went to a hospital for diabetes. But he was held because he was considered "mentally ill," and force injected with psychiatric drugs.

A law clinic took up Marion's cause, and now a jury has awarded him nearly one million dollars (see today's _Newsday_ article below). Prof. William Brooks at the Touro Law Center directs the mental disability law clinic.

Brooks said: "The award sends a message to psychiatric hospitals and doctors that you can't routinely admit someone and label them dangerous ... and inject them with mind-altering drugs because you have a desire to treat them."

MindFreedom director David Oaks said, "As someone who has been forcibly injected myself, I celebrate this victory with Mr. Marion and the law clinic that helped him win. We encourage supporters to congratulate these champions!"

The plaintiff, attorney and law clinic can be written here:

Robert Lee Marion

c/o Prof. William Brooks

Touro Law Center

300 Nassau Road

Huntington, New York 11743 USA


PLEASE FORWARD this news to educate the public and mental health system!

For more information on campaigns to resist forced psychiatric drugging see,

BELOW is an excerpt from today's _Newsday_ article:

  _Newsday_ 14 Jan. 2004

'Liberty' for the Mentally Ill

When Robert Lee Marion went to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan for a minor medical procedure, he hadn't planned on a six-day stay there -- against his will.

In December 1998, Marion, then 59, of Manhattan, went to the emergency room, saying he needed the surgery because of his diabetic condition. But when doctors told him there was no surgery scheduled for him, Marion, who was unemployed and has a history of mental illness, became very upset.

He grew loud, saying the government was trying to systematically kill poor people. After two brief interviews with doctors, Marion was involuntarily committed and injected with a potent psychiatric medication.

Under state law, doctors have the right to keep patients hospitalized against their will on an emergency basis, if they appear to be a danger to themselves and others.

Marion claimed in a lawsuit filed in 2000 against Bellevue and the doctors who treated him that his behavior didn't warrant confinement. During the trial in federal court in Manhattan, his lawyer, William Brooks told jurors that while Marion wasn't acting normally, his behavior had not crossed the legal threshold that would require him to be locked up.

Instead, Brooks -- a professor at Touro Law School in Huntington -- argued that doctors committed Marion because they felt he needed treatment for mental illness and illegally deprived him of his freedom. Marion, who had no history of being hospitalized, was released six days later, only after a hearing at Bellevue.

"This case is quite frankly pure and simple about liberty," Brooks told jurors last year during opening statements, according to a transcript. "It's about one's liberty to come and go when one wants, without interference from the government. And it is also about ... the freedom to have one's thoughts, no matter how off-beat or off-center or ... even radical, without being labeled mentally ill or crazy or dangerous and then being shut off to a psychiatric hospital because physicians, upon the most cursory evaluations, believe you are mentally ill."

Lawyers for the New York Health and Hospital Corporation in Manhattan, which runs Bellevue, had a different view. According to the court transcript, in her opening statement, city attorney Nancy Botta told the jury, "... the plaintiff was aggressive. He was getting close to people. He was getting in their faces. As he pointed and waved his finger, he was loud and threatening ... the plaintiff was actively manic, he was psychotic and he was delusional."

Bellevue doctors who committed Marion determined that he was "not only mentally ill, but that he was a danger to himself and a danger to the community," Botta told jurors.

After a four-day trial, the jury awarded Marion $750,000 in damages for his confinement and $225,000 for the injections -- one of the largest awards nationally in cases involving the involuntary commitment of the mentally ill, experts said.

It's also an extraordinary verdict because, in most cases, people like Marion don't have the means or the opportunity to bring their case to court. ...

Marion was referred to Brooks' legal clinic at Touro that specializes in cases involving the mentally ill. Brooks and several students had worked with Marion since 1999.

The clinic filed the suit in January 2000, asking for unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. Over the years, different third-year students and a staff attorney who is a recent Touro graduate worked on it, along with Brooks.

He added: "The award sends a message to psychiatric hospitals and doctors that you can't routinely admit someone and label them dangerous ... and inject them with mind-altering drugs because you have a desire to treat them."

Stephanie Muick, a former Touro student said the experience of doing research on the case shifted her career focus from criminal defense law to legal advocacy for the mentally ill. "It really had an effect on me," said Muick, 23, who is now at home in Pittsburgh studying for the bar exam. "When Professor Brooks called me and told me about the verdict, I was in shock."

Brooks and the students took no portion of the award, although the city will have to pay Touro for their legal fees, which will go back to the clinic program.

Marion could not be reached for comment. But Brooks said his client, although pleased with the verdict, thought he deserved much more. "He believes," Brooks said, "he is entitled to billions."

Copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc.

PLEASE FORWARD to all appropriate places on and off the Internet. Educate the public and the mental health system!

Forwarded by:

MindFreedom Support Coalition International

United Action for Human Rights in Mental Health.


'Illegal' phone masts removed

The Tetra police radio masts were erected in the middle of the night

A phone company has dismantled two masts erected without permission after complaints from residents.

O2 Airwave put up the masts at Rogate and East Marden in West Sussex last weekend - despite not having planning permission.

The firm admitted it had pre-empted the outcome of planning meetings when it built the masts, designed to be used by emergency service radios.

It removed the main masts at both sites on Friday and said the rest of the equipment would be cleared when weather improved.

O2 Airwave had been refused permission for the Rogate mast but an appeal against the decision is waiting to be heard.

A planning application for the East Marden mast has not yet been considered by councillors.

Residents had started a vigil at both sites amid fears the masts could be harmful to health.

It has been suggested the technology used in Terrestrial Trunked Radio (Tetra) masts can cause cancer.

On Wednesday O2 Airwave agreed to remove the masts, which were installed at 0200 GMT last Saturday.

At one stage Roman Abramovich the Russian billionaire owner of Chelsea Football Club had joined the campaigners. His 424-acre estate at Fyning Hill is next to the Rogate site.

"We hope that further actions, such as the ones we have seen, are not repeated again.

"The council takes breaches of planning control very seriously and we shall therefore be monitoring the situation very closely."

The Tetra radio network, which is being installed for 29 police forces in the UK, offers better coverage than mobile phones as well as secure high-quality transmissions.

Informant: Robert Riedlinger


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