Judge Dismisses Parts of Lawsuit on King/Drew Medical Center
A federal judge on Monday tentatively dismissed parts of a discrimination lawsuit filed by Friends of Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, saying the group was not directly injured by the closure of the hospital's trauma unit, the AP/Los Angeles Daily News reports (AP/Los Angeles Daily News, 3/8).
Friends of King/Drew -- which includes patients, doctors and community members -- filed a discrimination lawsuit in October 2004, accusing the county of "violating the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause." The suit also accuses the county of violating the 1964 Civil Rights Act, as well as Medicare and Medicaid regulations and various state laws.
The lawsuit states that layoffs, transfers and funding cuts have "systematically dismantled the medical care safety net" and resulted in service delays at King/Drew (California Healthline, 10/28/04).
U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper said she would allow other portions of the lawsuit to proceed, including a claim that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors violated the open meetings law by allegedly deciding to close the trauma unit before publicly disclosing their intentions.
Defense attorney Alisa Morgenthaler Lever, said, "We are obviously happy" with the decision. "It seems to eliminate the case as it pertains to the closure of the trauma center," she said.
Friends of King/Drew attorney David Martin said the group would continue to pursue the lawsuit and hopes to show direct harm caused by the trauma center's closure. According to Martin, the group has evidence that trauma patients have died during the time it took to transport them to different hospitals.
"At the end of the day, the good news is we're still alive. We're going ahead with our case," Martin said (AP/Los Angeles Daily News, 3/7).