A woman and her boyfriend who were shot by her estranged husband inside a Baton Rouge General Medical Center-Mid City patient room in September 2010 are suing the hospital and the imprisoned shooter.
Kwonesha Butler and Malcolm Jerome Phillips contend the hospital was negligent in allowing Darrell Garner into the room of Butler’s teenage son on Sept. 3, 2010.
The lawsuit says Butler had a restraining order against Garner but does not say whether the hospital was aware of the order.
“This was a domestic issue. We know it can occur anywhere. We’re deeply saddened it happened in a place of healing,’’ Baton Rouge General Medical Center spokeswoman Nicole Kleinpeter said Thursday when contacted about the suit.
Chris Shows, the attorney for Butler and Phillips, put the blame squarely on the hospital.
“But for the assistance hospital staff provided to the shooter, this incident would never have happened,’’ he said.
The suit, filed Sept. 6 in Baton Rouge state court, says Garner entered the hospital lobby and asked at the information desk to see Butler. After being told she was not registered at the hospital, Garner asked for Butler’s son, the suit states.
A hospital employee provided Garner with the room number and elevator access, the suit claims.
“Not having any security procedures in place, the security staff not only did not call Ms. Butler’s room and notify them that they had a visitor, but … the staff advised (Garner) of the room they were in and unlocked the elevator so that (he) could more easily get to Ms. Butler and her son,’’ the suit alleges.
Garner was a convicted felon at the time and was armed, the suit says.
Butler and Phillips were dozing on opposite ends of a couch in her son’s hospital room when Garner entered, the suit states. She instructed him to leave and reached for a copy of the restraining order in her purse, the suit adds.
“Garner pulled out a revolver and began firing at Ms. Butler and Mr. Phillips until all chambers were empty, then fled the premises,’’ the suit says.
Phillips is permanently disabled as a result of the shooting, and Butler “continues to suffer the physical, financial and emotional losses arising from this incident,’’ according to the suit, which seeks an unspecified amount of damages.
Garner, 37, pleaded guilty Aug. 24 to two counts of attempted second-degree murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Butler was shot in the arm and Phillips was shot in the arm and head, police have said. Butler’s son was not injured.
A judge granted Butler’s restraining order against Garner 10 days before the shooting. Butler said in the petition for the order that Garner slapped, choked, shoved and stalked her as well as abused her children.
The suit has been assigned to state District Judge Mike Caldwell.