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LINCOLN, Neb.—A nurse who was attacked by a patient brought to the hospital by police should receive workers compensation or sue her assailant rather than suing the municipality employing the police officers, the Nebraska Supreme Court says.
In a ruling Friday, the high court said the city of Bellevue, Neb., and its police department are not liable for Jan Ginapp's injuries, which took place at Midlands Hospital in Papillion, Neb.
The Bellevue Police Department took Ray Gilpin into emergency protective custody in July 2007 after he had an altercation with his mother. Based on the argument and other actions by Mr. Gilpin that day, the police department said the 18-year-old was "mentally ill and dangerous toward others," according to court records.
He was transported to the emergency room at Midlands, which conducted medical screening but had no psychiatric services. Mr. Gilpin remained at the hospital overnight and attacked Ms. Ginapp the next day.
The beating left Ms. Ginapp "seriously injured," and she still suffers from double vision and headaches, according to court records.
Ms. Ginapp sued the city of Bellevue. She argued that the city's police department failed to properly restrain Mr. Gilpin and erred in bringing him to Midlands instead of a nearby mental health facility.
The Sarpy County District Court awarded $350,000 in damages to Ms. Ginapp after finding, in part, that Bellevue police "had a duty to prevent Gilpin from injuring third persons" while in protective custody.
The state Supreme Court reversed that decision in a 6-0 ruling. It said that Bellevue police took reasonable care to detain Mr. Gilpin, and noted that police officers left after Mr. Gilpin was calm and had been at Midlands for nearly two hours.
The court also found that Bellevue no longer had custody of Mr. Gilpin when the assault happened.
"While Ginapp's injuries are clearly substantial, her remedy is from her employer for workers compensation or from Gilpin himself," the ruling reads.
Justice John Wright recused himself from Friday's ruling, records show.