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Four Tops singer accuses hospital of racism, putting him in straitjacket



The lead singer of the Four Tops Motown band is suing a Michigan hospital and two staff members, 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 that staffers at southeast Michigan’s Ascension Macomb-Oakland Hospital assumed he was delusional after arriving at the hospital in an ambulance with “clear symptoms of cardiac distress” in April 2023.

After identifying himself as a member of the Four Tops, said Morris, 53, workers denied him medical treatment by removing him from oxygen — and instead ordered him to undergo a psychological evaluation and placed him in a restraining jacket. After 90 minutes, the singer was released from restraints when he was able to show a video of himself performing at the Grammys to a nurse, the lawsuit alleged.

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

Racial inequity in accessing medical care is a deep-seated problem that can have fatal consequences, many doctors and experts say. Black Americans die younger than their White counterparts and have higher rates of death for heart diseases, 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.

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

“When he presented to the emergency room [Morris] informed a nurse and a security guard that he was a member of the famous Motown group the ‘Four Tops,’ and that he had current security concerns due to stalkers and fans,” the lawsuit said.

The Four Tops — which propelled Detroit’s contemporary soul scene to worldwide fame in the ’60s as a hit machine for Motown Records — continues to tour with founding star Duke Fakir.

Hospital employees “wrongfully assumed he was mentally ill” and “made the decision to remove him from oxygen and pursue a psychiatric evaluation instead,” the lawsuit alleged.

When he tried to resolve the mistake by asking to show identification, the lawsuit alleges, a White security guard told him to “sit his Black ass down.”

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

After Morris showed a nurse a video of his performance at the Grammys, the lawsuit said, “the nurse realized Plaintiff was a member of the Four Tops, and the nurse went and got the emergency room doctor to inform him. The emergency room doctor returned and said he was canceling the psychological evaluation,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit said that Morris was ultimately diagnosed with a heart issue requiring a potential transplant and pneumonia and that he suffered three seizures during the hospital stay.

As an apology, Morris said, the hospital offered him a $25 gift card for a supermarket, which he declined.

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