Huntington Beach, UCLA Sued by Man for Allegedly Breaking His Arm, Subsequent Misdiagnosis

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

By Luke Kyaw and Lois Yoo


HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA – Earlier in February of this year, Brent Mather Swan swears he was wrongfully arrested, and he has now filed a Los Angeles County Superior Court lawsuit against the city of Huntington Beach, alleging wrongful arrest, excessive force and false imprisonment.


In his lawsuit, Swan is requesting $600,000 from the city of Huntington Beach, the entire cost to treat his broken arm and replace his car, court costs and attorney fees incurred, and a requirement city police attend sensitivity classes.


Swan also filed a lawsuit against UCLA for misdiagnosis of his broken arm. His complaints in his lawsuit against UCLA include professional negligence, breach of contract, fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and misdiagnosis.


His UCLA pleading asks payment of $6,000 monthly for every month before he obtained the medical diagnosis. And asks the court to be awarded money for his whole treatment process for his arm and that the attending physicians go through sensitivity training.


In February, seeking help from the police, Swan said he called the local police station three times and even text messaged them over the span of one hour, but said he received no response. He then eventually went to a Huntington Beach Lifeguard Station nearby, where he asked staff to call the police for him.


However, contrary to Swan’s expectations, the police immediately arrived at the station and “arrested [him] … onsite on a false charge of burglary” without even asking him any questions.


In the midst of the arrest, according to Swan’s court pleading, the police dislocated and broke the left arm of Swan – who had already surrendered – by twisting it with excessive force. Swan noted,  “There is something physically preventing my arm from extending … my arm is permanently crippled … due to that injury.”


After he was arrested, Swan wrote he was held in Orange County Jail for a month until the prosecutor reviewed his case and noticed the wrongful charge.


According to Swan, the police had also “stole[n] his car” and would not allow him to get out of jail unless he “agreed to plead guilty to the false charge of resisting arrest.”


On May 28, Swan went to the UCLA Emergency Room for a medical diagnosis and to get his temporary disability form signed. At this point, his broken arm was still in the process of healing. However, the doctors denied Swan medical care, Swan said.


Swan claimed the doctor refused to sign his temporary disability form and diagnosed him with mere left elbow pain by the end of the appointment. The doctor’s explanation as to why Swan’s arm was not properly functioning was that “maybe [he] ha[d] a bone chip in the joint.”


However, there was no formal acknowledgement of the fact that Swan’s arm was clearly broken, according to paperwork provided by Swan in his court filings.


This severely inconvenienced Swan, he declares, because the signed forms would have allowed him to swiftly proceed with his treatment and healing process.


In an ED Triage Note written by a nurse and included in Swan’s public court pleading, it was stated that Swan was “found breaking into [the] lifeguard tower [and that] PD called to apprehend … [which] resulted in [an] abrasion to [the] chin.”


A doctor also noted in an ED Provider Note – again, provided by Swan – that the “patient was kicking and spitting while being arrested … [and was] complaining of left elbow pain which the police officer suspect[ed was] due to straining when he was placed in handcuffs.”


According to a statement of booking officer at the jail, it was noted that Swan may have been under the influence of drugs and sustained injuries.


Swan’s medical records state that the “patient is combative [and] uncooperative and not giving additional history … [and] shouting profanities at the staff.” It was also written down that the X-ray of his arm apparently “shows a minimally displaced fracture of the coronoid process.”


An RN recorded that Swan also refused to learn about pain management for his arm. He was eventually given medical clearance to be taken into custody. Around the time of his departure from the hospital, Swan was handcuffed to a gurney by a police officer due to his arrest status and apparently continued being uncooperative.


Every few days, Swan would have his vital signs checked in jail but his paperwork – again, provided by Swan in his lawsuit filing – it was recorded twice on March 14 that he was “too agitated to take VS from him.”


On March 3, Swan had a similar situation where “he yelled ‘f*ck you b*tch!’ ‘Get out of my cell.’” and when staff “[a]ttempted to assist with vital signs and speak to him … he started banging on the door and kicking the door,” according to his progress notes.


In Swan’s custody progress notes, it was recorded on March 5 that Swan stated, “I’m hearing voices. I normally self-medicate with CBD. I’m feeling anxious. I try to keep voices to help with the voices. I need to go to a mental facility.”


It was then recorded on March 12 by the jail that Swan said to the staff, “You guys just stopped giving me pain meds. I think I should be in the hospital, not here.”


Later that same day, it was recorded that Swan was “seen by Mental Health … per Deputy referral due to mumbling to self and odd behavior. Clt sitting on holding cell bench talking to self about ‘Made in China.’ good eye contact… clear & coherent speech … states he talked to his ancestors … states ‘I feel like my life is being threatened.’”

About The Author

Luke Kyaw is an incoming third-year at UCLA majoring in Public Affairs. He immigrated from Myanmar in 2015 and currently resides in San Gabriel, California.

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