When last we heard of Dr. Michael LaPaglia, anal examiner extraordinaire at the Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge, it was for sticking his fingers into a 21-year-old named Felix Booker. The physician’s excuse was that someone was going in whether Booker consented or not, and he wasn’t about to miss the chance to get his hands dirty. Well, Dr. LaPaglia is back.
Via Knox News :
An Oak Ridge man who says he was forced in June 2011 to submit to a digital rectal exam for suspected drugs — and no drugs were found — has filed a lawsuit in Anderson County Circuit Court.
Wesley Antwan Gulley’s legal action contends his constitutional rights were violated and he was subjected to false arrest and imprisonment, assault and battery and medical battery.
The lawsuit alleges Gulley was in shackles and reluctantly consented to the exam, but only after Dr. Michael A. LaPaglia ordered an injectable sedative and threatened to use it “in performing the digital rectal exam …
At least with Booker, LaPaglia pulled out a plum. But Gulley had nothing to hide. The justification for suspecting that there were drugs hidden in his anus?
Gulley was stopped in Oak Ridge for an alleged traffic violation on June 3, 2011, and told he was being arrested for drugs, according to the lawsuit. He was 19 at the time, records show.
A drug-sniffing dog alerted on a $20 bill found on the driver’s seat of the vehicle, and Gulley underwent an extensive pat-down search.
He was then taken to Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge for the exam, the lawsuit states.
It all started with a traffic violation, which devolved when a drug dog alerted to a $20 bill. What are the chances? Incredibly good, actually, since almost all currency will give rise to a dog alert. Then there’s the question of dog sniff alerts, notoriously subject to the influence of the handler and the false-positive problems with dogs. But hey, it was a traffic violation. Nothing says drug in the anus more than a traffic violation.
So naturally, Gulley was taken to the hospital in the usual course of a traffic violation and dog hit. You can never be too sure of such miscreants.
Three Oak Ridge police officers and two nurses were in the hospital room at Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge at the time of the exam, according to the complaint.
Nothing was found and Gulley was never charged with any drug-related crime, the lawsuit states. A resisting arrest charge filed against Gulley was later dismissed by the state, the lawsuit states.
There was no question what to do with Gulley after his seizure: Bring him to LaPaglia, who not only has no reservations about performing medically unnecessary procedures and facilitating the police officers whimsical, baseless (and warrantless) intrusions into the bodies of their suspects, but a doc who seems always ready to stick his fingers into another man’s anus. If there’s an anus to be searched, Dr. LaPaglia’s the man to do it. With gusto.
The cavity search performed on Felix Booker, who was subsequently convicted of possession and whose case is before the 6th Circuit on appeal, was outrageous in that always eager LaPaglia paralyzed Booker to stick his fingers where the sun don’t shine at the mere request of the police. No warrant. No consent. No nothing.
But compounding the perversity, LaPaglia used his medical license to become a happy tool of law enforcement, only too willing to once again dive in with a suspect whose only purported connection to drugs was a hit on a $20, about as worthless as any evidence could be, As much as this is a legal outrage, what the heck do other physicians think about this conduct? Are they good with their fellow physician performing these procedures whenever a cop asks?
As for the folks in Oak Ridge, if you end up in the hospital and a doc named LaPaglia happens to show up, I strongly urge you to demand that he wash his hands. You never know where they’ve been.
H/T Knoxville lawyer R. Arthur Jenkins