Four Tops Singer Sues Hospital Over Being Put in Restraints

Four Tops Singer Sues Hospital Over Being Put in Restraints

A singer who joined the storied Motown group the Four Tops in 2018 sued a Michigan hospital on Monday, accusing its staff of placing him in restraints and ordering a psychological evaluation because they did not believe he was part of the band.

The singer, Alexander Morris, who is Black, filed a lawsuit accusing Ascension Macomb-Oakland Hospital of racial discrimination and two employees of negligence for an incident in April 2023, when he was taken there by ambulance with chest pain and difficulty breathing.

When Mr. Morris, 53, told hospital staff that he was a member of the Four Tops — which helped define the Motown Sound in the 1960s with hits such as “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” and “Reach Out I’ll Be There” — the staff “wrongfully assumed he was mentally ill” and a security guard was instructed to put him in restraints, the lawsuit alleges.

When Mr. Morris offered to show his identification card, the lawsuit said, the security guard, who is white, told him to “sit his Black ass down.”

“None of the nursing staff intervened to stop the racial discrimination and mistreatment,” said the lawsuit, which accused the staff of taking Mr. Morris, who had a history of heart problems, off oxygen while they pursued a psychiatric evaluation.

The nonprofit health system that oversees the hospital, Ascension, released a statement in which it declined to comment on the pending litigation but said, “We do not condone racial discrimination of any kind.”

The Four Tops has seen a rotation of replacement singers since its heyday. Its only surviving original member, Abdul Fakir, invited Mr. Morris to join the group in 2018 and he has been performing with them since 2019. At the time of Mr. Morris’s hospital visit last year, the lawsuit said, the Four Tops had been touring with another Motown jewel, the Temptations, and the group had recently performed at a Grammys charity event honoring Berry Gordy, Motown’s founder.

Seeking to convince the hospital that he was not “delusional,” Mr. Morris’s lawsuit said, he showed a nurse a video of him performing at the Grammys event. Then the staff canceled the psychiatric evaluation, removed the restraints — which the suit said had been in place for about 90 minutes — and placed him back on oxygen.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, said that after the ordeal, Mr. Morris was offered a $25 gift card to a supermarket, which he said he refused to accept.

“The hospital denied my identity and my basic human dignity and then offered me a gift card,” Mr. Morris said in a statement provided by his lawyers.

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