Family members and loved ones often do not know where to turn when someone close to them dies in custody. Some individuals may lose themselves in anger, while others shut down and do not think anything can be done to vindicate the death of an innocent person. However, you can enforce your legal rights and hold those responsible for your loved one’s death liable in a civil lawsuit.
Excessive Restraints and Over Medication of Stella Summers
Chrystie Anagnostou’s daughter Stella Summers was a patient at the Los Angeles County—USC Hospital. Stella Summers resided in a board and care facility known as Del Vista Mar when she was nineteen years old. Chrystie Anagnostou obtained a conservatorship over Stella Summers in 2018 due to Stella being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, manic depressive disorder, and asthma.
Los Angeles Police Department officers transported Stella Summers to LAC-USC on September 21, 2018. Stella Summers was placed on a 5150 hold and was in the psychiatric department until September 27, 2018. Under California Welfare and Institutions Code section 5150, an officer may detain any person that the officer determines, “as a result of a mental health disorder, is a danger to others, or to himself or herself” for up to 72 hours for “assessment, evaluation, and crisis intervention.” The hold may be extended to up to 14 days under certain conditions.
Although Stella’s condition had improved by September 25th, 2018, she was not discharged from the psychiatric department. Summers’s hold expired on September 24th, 2018, but she remained at the psychiatric emergency department against her wishes. Stella underwent long periods where she remained in restraint and was administered heavy cocktails of sedative to keep her in a continuous vegetive state. The medical staff wrongfully used both chemical and physical restraints as prophylactic measures even when Stella no longer posed any danger to anyone.
The hospital administered Haldol and other psychiatric medications to Stella Summers. Her mental and physical condition deteriorated until Stella was placed in hard restraints on September 26th, 2018. Stella remained in restraints and under sedation the following day when she was transferred to LAC-USC psychiatric unit.
Stella’s mother visited the psychiatric unit on September 28, 2018, and noticed Stella was not able to move and that and her speech was slow. Stella felt weak and she could not lift her legs. Stella’s mother notified the hospital about her concern for her daughter’s health and safety on September 29, 2018.
Stella Summers fell on her buttocks on September 30, 2018. Despite asking for someone to watch her while she stands up, her concerns were dismissed and Stella remained on restraints until October 3, 2018. On October 4, 2018, while supposedly being watched by staff escort, Stella fainted, fell and struck her head on the ground. At 1:55 PM on October 4, 2018, Stella lost consciousness. At 3:00 PM on October 4, 2018, Stella was pronounced dead.
Cause of Death
An autopsy revealed that Stella died of pulmonary emboli due to deep vein thromboses. The autopsy also revealed that Stella suffered from blunt force trauma to her skull, scalp hemorrhages, and a pronounced laceration to her liver likely due to improper chest compressions during CPR.
The surviving family members approached the Sehat Law Firm for legal representation regarding the wrongful death of Stella Summers. After reviewing the facts and analyzing the case, the Sehat Law Firm gathered necessary evidence, conducted depositions, and prepared to take the case to trial. The parties entered into a settlement agreement for $600,000 on January 31, 2022.
Read related LA Times Article: Strapped down: Psychiatric patients are restrained at sky-high rates at this L.A. hospital