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Charges against St. Joseph's Medical Center dismissed in Jameek Lowery case

Source: , Posted On:   07 December 2020

Charges against St. Joseph’s Medical Center dismissed in Jameek Lowery case

Joe Malinconico  |  Paterson Press

PATERSON — A judge handling the federal lawsuit over Jameek Lowery’s death has dismissed the charges against St. Joseph’s University Medical Center and one of its emergency room doctors.

Shaquana Duncan, the mother of Lowery’s child, agreed last Thursday to dismiss the medical negligence accusations against the hospital and the doctor, Joseph Affortunato, according to court records. The 31-word order signed by the judge on Friday said the dismissal came “without costs to either party.”

The hospital may be off the hook, but Duncan’s case against the city, the Paterson Police Department and the three police officers involved in Lowery's death is still pending.

Lowery’s death in January 2019 — after he posted a video on social media channels recorded from Paterson police headquarters in which he said police officers wanted to kill him — sparked a series of angry public protests that rocked the city that winter.

Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdes has said the state medical examiner’s autopsy determined that Lowery, who was 27, died from a medical reaction to illegal drugs he ingested. But the lawsuit filed by Duncan last July accused the three Paterson cops of causing Lowery’s death when they forcefully restrained him and struck him during the ambulance ride from headquarters to St. Joseph’s emergency room.

Lowery’s family members have said a private autopsy done by renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Joseph Baden confirmed their assertions that he died from the blows suffered in the ambulance. That autopsy has not been made public.

Earlier: Jameek Lowery's family says Paterson's claim he died of drug use is 'slander,' 'offensive'

Lawsuit: Family claims Paterson cops, hospital responsible for death of Jameek Lowery

The lawsuit’s accusations against St. Joseph’s stemmed from the fact that Lowery had been taken by ambulance to the emergency room because he became paranoid from taking drugs about an hour before he recorded the video at police headquarters.

Affortunato discharged Lowery from the hospital about 30 minutes after his arrival, according to the lawsuit. While waiting for a cab in the hospital lobby, Lowery began jumping on furniture and refused to leave, but Affortunato would not see him again, the lawsuit said. Hospital security guards forcefully removed Lowery from the building, the suit said.

In response to the lawsuit, St. Joseph’s lawyers filed court papers denying that security guards forcefully escorted Lowery out of the hospital. The court papers said the hospital lacked information regarding the truth of the other allegations.

On his way home, Lowery hopped out of the cab, leaving the vehicle through a window, and ran to Paterson police headquarters, according to the Prosecutor’s Office.

After recording his video, in which he repeatedly said he was paranoid from doing drugs, Lowery was taken by ambulance to St. Joseph’s a second time. It was during the second trip that Lowery’s family claims he suffered the fatal injuries at the hands of the police officers.

Lowery was unconscious when he arrived at the emergency room after the second ambulance ride and needed to be resuscitated, according to the Prosecutor’s Office and the family’s lawsuit.

Paterson’s lawyers in the case filed court papers in August asking the judge to dismiss the accusations against the cops, saying he died because of his own drug use. Duncan’s lawyers called the city’s assertion slanderous and offensive.

The judge has yet to issue a decision on the city’s attempt to get the case dismissed.

Duncan’s lawyers declined to comment on the dismissal of the complaint against the hospital. 

Email: editor@patersonpress.com