Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Judge Clears North Florida City In Hospital Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Wikimedia Commons
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A federal judge has thrown out most of a lawsuit filed by the family of a black woman who died in December 2015, while police forcibly removed her from a Florida hospital where she sought treatment.

U.S. Judge Robert Hinkle dismissed a civil rights claim Monday in the wrongful-death lawsuit Barbara Dawson's family filed against the city of Blountstown, the Liberty-Calhoun Hospital, two former hospital employees and a former police officer. The judge also dismissed false-imprisonment and battery claims against the hospital and its former employees.

A claim that the hospital failed to provide emergency care for Dawson, who was 57 years old when she died, still stands and could be heard beginning in October.

"The hospital is still liable for damages," said family attorney Daryl Parks. "She will still have her day in court."

Hospital spokeswoman Sandi Poreda said the hospital appreciates that the court "continues to move this matter closer to resolution."

Frances Scott, the personal representative of Dawson's estate, filed the lawsuit last June.

On the day she died, Dawson was discharged from the hospital, but refused to leave because she said she was having difficulty breathing. John Tadlock, a white Blountstown Police officer, handcuffed her in the emergency room and she was charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing. She collapsed when Tadlock tried to put her in a patrol car.

Drew Peacock, an emergency medical technician, and Jennifer Waldorff, a nurse, tried to help Tadlock get Dawson back into the car after she collapsed. Less than 20 minutes later, a doctor reassessed her and she was taken back to the emergency room. Dawson died about 90 minutes later.

The medical examiner's office found that Dawson died from a blood clot due to being excessively overweight.

Tadlock resigned as a police officer last March , but Blountstown Police Chief Mark Mallory said the resignation was not related to the case. A state attorney ruled last year that Tadlock's actions were "appropriate under the circumstances and there was no criminal law violation."

Waldorff and Taylor were fired by the hospital. A search of Florida Department of Health records shows that Waldorff still has her nursing license after completing an eight-hour course in patient assessment.