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The lead singer of the Motown band Four Tops is suing a Michigan hospital and two staff members for racial discrimination after they wrongly treated him as a mental patient when he identified himself as a member of the group.

Alexander Morris, who is black, said in his lawsuit that Staff at Ascension Macomb-Oakland Hospital in southeast Michigan suspected he was delusional after he was admitted by ambulance in April 2023 with “clear symptoms of heart disease.”

After he identified himself as a member of the Four Tops, staff denied him medical treatment by depriving him of oxygen, Morris, 53, said. Instead, they ordered him to undergo a psychological evaluation and placed him in a bondage jacket. After 90 minutes, the singer was freed from the restraints when he was able to show a nurse a video of his performance at the Grammys, the lawsuit says.

In a statement Tuesday, Ascension said it would not comment on pending litigation. “The health, safety and well-being of our patients, employees and community members remain our highest priority,” it said. “We remain committed to respecting human dignity and acting with integrity and compassion toward all people and the community. We do not tolerate racial discrimination of any kind.”

Racial inequality in access to health care is a deep-rooted problem that can have dire consequences, many doctors and experts say. Black Americans die younger than their white counterparts and have higher death rates from heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma and diabetes.

Morris is suing for at least $75,000 in damages, claiming he was misdiagnosed and mistreated by the hospital, a nurse and a security guard because of his race.

According to the lawsuit, Morris arrived at the hospital by ambulance on April 7, 2023, with difficulty breathing and chest pains.

“Upon arrival at the emergency room, (Morris) told a nurse and a security guard that he was a member of the famous Motown group ‘Four Tops’ and that he was currently experiencing safety concerns due to stalkers and fans,” the lawsuit states.

The Four Tops – who brought Detroit’s contemporary soul scene to worldwide fame as a hit machine for Motown Records in the 1960s – continue to tour with founding star Duke Fakir.

Hospital staff “wrongly believed he was mentally ill” and “made the decision to withdraw his oxygen and subject him to a psychiatric evaluation instead,” the lawsuit says.

When he tried to make amends by asking for his identification, a white security guard told him to “sit your black ass down,” the lawsuit says.

Morris claims that instead of receiving “urgently needed” treatment for a cardiac emergency, he was stripped of his belongings and placed in a restraint mechanism under the supervision of several security guards who refused his requests to seek treatment elsewhere. Morris “instead received… an intentional misdiagnosis and inferior medical care based on his race, which amounted to racial discrimination and delayed his actual diagnosis.”

After Morris showed a nurse a video of his performance at the Grammys, the lawsuit says, “the nurse realized that plaintiff was a member of the Four Tops and called the emergency room doctor to inform him. The emergency room doctor returned and said he was canceling the psychological evaluation,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit states that Morris was ultimately diagnosed with a heart condition that may require a transplant, as well as pneumonia, and suffered three epileptic seizures while in the hospital.

As an apology, Morris said, the hospital offered him a $25 grocery store gift card, but he declined.

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