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Four Tops Singer Files Lawsuit Against Hospital Over ER Incident

The lead singer of Motown group The Four Tops is suing a Detroit-area hospital over allegations that staffers “assumed he was mentally ill” and put him in a straight jacket when he informed them that he was a famous musician.

In a complaint filed Monday in Michigan federal court, singer Alexander Morris claims that when he visited the emergency room at Ascension Macomb-Oakland Hospital in April 2023 with difficulty breathing and chest pain, he was both racially profiled and unfairly treated as if he was “delusional.”

Even though he was showing “clear symptoms of cardiac distress” and had a history of such problems, Morris says that staffers removed him from oxygen support and ordered a psychological evaluation after he “revealed his identity as a celebrity figure.” When he offered to prove his identity, Morris says a white security guard ordered him to “sit his Black ass down” and physically restrained him.

“Plaintiff had a valid identification on his person and could easily have been identified as a singer in the Four Tops group,” attorneys for Morris’ write. “Defendant hospital  … blatantly refused to provide plaintiff with medical treatment due to his race and/or perceived mental disability.”

Eventually, Morris says, his wife arrived and learned “that the doctors thought he was delusional.” When he was able to show a nurse a “video of him performing at the Grammys,” he says the hospital finally agreed to cancel the psych evaluation. He was ultimately diagnosed with heart infraction – and offered what he says was an insulting mea culpa.

“Plaintiff was offered a $25.00 gift card to Meijers as an apology for the dehumanization and discrimination he faced at the hands of the hospital,” the singer’s attorneys write. “He refused to accept the gift card.”

Founded in the early 1950s, The Four Tops roared to widespread success in the 1960s and fueled the rise of the growing Motown record company. The original lineup, consisting of Levi Stubbs, Abdul “Duke” Fakir, Renaldo “Obie” Benson and Lawrence Payton, stuck together for more than 40 years and are enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Fakir is the sole original member still in the group.

Morris, who joined the group in 2019, had already publicized his alleged ordeal in the past. Last spring, he threatened to sue over the alleged incident, claiming that it would have taken “two minutes” to verify his identity: “My health should’ve been first.”

In a statement to Billboard on Tuesday, a spokesperson for hospital owner Ascension said the company was “unable to provide details on cases under investigation.”

“The health, safety and well-being of our patients, associates and community members remains our top priority,” the spokesperson said. “We remain committed to honoring human dignity and acting with integrity and compassion for all persons and the community. We do not condone racial discrimination of any kind.”

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