Patient sues for assault

Sinai Hospital security guard's trial on reduced charges begins Monday in incident that led to suit

October 18, 2008|By Liz F. Kay | Liz F. Kay,liz.kay@baltsun.com

A former Sinai Hospital patient is suing the hospital and a security guard for $77 million after he says he was assaulted in the emergency room on Labor Day.

Felony assault and attempted-murder charges had been filed against the guard, Timothy Hough, but the state's attorney's office intends to reduce those charges to misdemeanors, the patient's attorney, Quinton M. Herbert, said yesterday. The case goes to trial Monday.

"What's most astonishing is that it appears this decision was made without reviewing the medical records, without reviewing the photographs," Herbert said.

Margaret T. Burns, a spokewoman for the state's attorney's office, declined to comment because of the pending trial. "We want to proceed based on the law, the facts and the evidence, and make sure that justice is served and each case is handled fairly," she said.

Hough filed second-degree assault charges against the patient, Gerrod Lewis, on Sept. 2.

Sinai Hospital spokeswoman Sandra Crockett said in a statement that it was unfortunate that the incident occurred, but "Officer Timothy Hough was defending himself against a violent and out-of-control patient." He remains on staff at the hospital.

"We stand behind Officer Hough and plan to defend him vigorously against all charges," Crockett said in the statement.

According to court documents, Lewis was in an exam room at Sinai Hospital on Sept. 1 when an emergency room technician told him to remove his earring. Lewis said he did not want to, and Hough repeated the instruction. Lewis alleges in his suit that when the technician left the room and Lewis turned his head, Hough began to beat him on the head and body.

Lewis suffered injuries to his head and eye, including nasal and orbital fractures, Herbert said.

A Baltimore police officer investigated, and Hough was charged with attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault and reckless endangerment on Sept. 4.

Hough says the patient became verbally abusive after he was asked to remove his earring, later spitting on Hough, who then used "self-defense techniques" and called for other officers for backup.

Crockett said the hospital conducted a background check on Hough before he was hired, and it came back clean.

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