Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Mar. 5, 2013, 10:26am

MARSHALL - An 89-year-old Tyler woman has filed a lawsuit against the Tyler Fire Marshal and two Tyler physicians claiming she was involuntary committed to a hospital and assaulted.

Sarah R. Mason filed suit against James Suggs Jr., Dr. John Lane Schnell and Dr. Brad A. Brazeal on Feb. 27 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

According to the lawsuit, 89-year-old Mason was a resident of Providence Park Nursing Center in Tyler and was admitted there for a closed head injury she had suffered several days prior to May 16, 2012. Although Mason was at the facility voluntarily, she was not free to leave the facility as it was locked for the patient’s safety and protection.

On the night of May 16, 2012, a fire broke out in Mason’s room, in her purse. The fire was put out using a fire extinguisher. After a brief investigation, the Tyler Deputy Fire Marshal threatened to charge Mason with arson.

After protests by the nursing staff, the Fire Marshal decided to apply for emergency detention without a warrant of Mason. She was transported to a Tyler hospital and treated for a urinary tract infection. She was then involuntary committed for “inpatient psychiatric care.”

The defendants are accused of violating Mason’s due process rights, Fourteenth Amendment rights, the Texas Health and Safety code, the right to be free from illegal and unauthorized confinement and liberty interest and false imprisonment.

The plaintiff is seeking an award of damages for illegal restraint, assault, invasion of privacy, humiliation, embarrassment, pain and mental anguish, compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorney’s fees.

Mason is represented by Dan Stroup of Dan Stroup PC in Longview. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:13-cv-00181

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