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Calhoun Liberty Hospital Sued Over Barbara Dawson Death

ischarged from the Calhoun-Liberty County Hospital

Lawyers for the family of a Blountstown woman who died outside the Calhoun Liberty Hospital are now suing the hospital, some of its staff and the city. Barbara Dawson died in December of last year after being forcefully discharged from the hospital. Dawson died outside of the hospital from a blood clot. She had been removed from the facility and handcuffed when she collapsed.

A lawsuit claims the arresting officer, John Tadlock, the city of Blountstown, two former Calhoun-Liberty Hospital nurses and the hospital itself are responsible for Dawson’s death. It accuses them of violating Dawson's civil rights, along with false imprisonment and battery. Dawson's estate is represented by Tallahassee-based attorney's Darryl Parks and Ben Crump.

In the aftermath of the incident, the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration leveled fines against the hospital and it was ordered to revamp its patient policies. Three staffers were fired.

“That hospital provides a critical service. So, the lawsuit will be responded to in an appropriate manner in a court of law," says hospital spokeswoman Sandi Poreda. "But we want the community to know that no matter what, we will be there for them.” 

Poreda says the hospital hasn’t received an official notice of the lawsuit yet—but someone sent them the paperwork. The hospital has been holding bake-sales and other fundraisers to pay its fines. It's a small, rural hospital that's been on shaky financial ground for years.

Blountstown police officer John Tadlock was cleared by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in an investigation into Dawson’s death, but resigned in June. He is named as a defendant in the wrongful death lawsuit, along with nurses Drew Peacock and Jennifer Walforff who were among three people fired from the hospital in the aftermath. The hospital is facing more than $150,ooo in fines related to the incident.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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