Four Tops Singer Sues, Says Hospital Placed Him in Straitjacket

June 12, 2024
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A singer in the Four Tops is suing a Michigan hospital with claims its staff dubbed him “delusional” and placed him in a restraining jacket instead of believing he was a member of Motown’s legendary vocal quartet seeking care for chest pains related to a “severe” heart condition.

Alexander Morris, who is Black, filed his lawsuit in federal court in Michigan on Monday. He alleges the staff at Ascension Macomb Oakland Hospital north of Detroit assumed he was lying when he appeared in an emergency room on April 7, 2023, and said he was suffering from chest pain and had difficulty breathing while serving as lead singer for the Four Tops on a national tour with The Temptations. Morris alleges white hospital staff placed him into “a restraining jacket and/or a four-point restraint mechanism,” removed his oxygen and told him he first had to wait for a compulsory psychological evaluation, his 17-page complaint obtained by Rolling Stone says. The suit was first posted by journalist Seamus Hughes.

Morris claims that for 90 minutes, hospital staff including a white male security guard “wrongfully assumed he was mentally ill.” He alleges they declined to confirm his identity as he tried to explain he had a “significant” history of cardiac disease that included the placement of stints and a defibrillator.

“[Morris] asked if he could prove his identity by showing his identification card, and the white male security guard ordered him to ‘sit his Black ass down,’” the lawsuit states. “None of the nursing staff intervened to stop the racial discrimination and mistreatment.”

Finally, according to the lawsuit, Morris convinced a nurse to review a video of him performing at the Grammys. The nurse then “realized” Morris was a member of the Four Tops — he joined the group in 2019 — and purportedly informed other staff, the lawsuit said. Morris’ psychological evaluation was subsequently cancelled and he was released from restraints and treated, the lawsuit says. He was ultimately diagnosed at the hospital with a “severe heart condition and pneumonia,” the filing alleges.

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

According to the lawsuit, a hospital security guard reached out to Morris after the incident to say the guard who restrained Morris had a history of making racist comments and jokes and “frequently used excessive force with patients.” The whistleblower guard also allegedly said employees tampered with the incident report involving Morris and that employees were instructed not to discuss what allegedly happened.

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Morris’ lawyer, Maurice Davis, tells Rolling Stone that the whistleblower guard has agreed to testify if necessary. “This case is important because the hospital staff assumed that because he was a Black man, he was having some kind of psychotic episode, he was out of his mind, and he needed to be physically restrained, like he presented some type of danger to the hospital staff,” Davis says. “They wanted to restrain his hands, bind him, and make sure he couldn’t harm anyone. So instead of assuming that he’s a successful Black man, leader of the Four Tops that he is, they assumed he posed a danger.”

Davis says the outcome of the incident could have been catastrophic. “He could have died. Instead of providing him with treatment, they were restraining him,” Davis says. “He was going through a pretty serious medical situation, and he was mistreated and discriminated against.”



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