Subject: Death of Mr. John Freeman
Personal Statement: Mr. Ralph Johnson, Legal Representative, Gracie Burns Hospital, Georgia, USA.
Date: September 2, 2017.
Notes: This is transcribed version of recording. See File number #2398B-C23 for recording master.
This is my official deposition and I swear this to be true. My name is Ralph Johnson and I act as the legal representative for the Gracie Burns hospital in this matter.
I thought that I had seen just about everything there was to see or experience when it came to the law in our small out-of-the-way county. But, like everything in this world it’s good to know there may be a surprise around the corner. It keeps you young just to know there’s somebody out there whose only mission in life is to create a surprise in yours. Let me apologize if I ramble a bit here, it’s just you have to understand some small things before you understand the bigger things.
Our small town happens to be in the exact geographical centre of the county and so we were fortunate enough to be just big enough to build ourselves a hospital. Because I, in a much younger self worked hard to find the funds to get the hospital established, I sat on the board in the recognized position as their defense attorney. I must say however, that in all the years of doing this, and I think it’s been about 31 years now, we’ve never had a case go to trial. Oh, there have been complaints and gripes about the food or the service or the outcome of the operation, but when push came to shove the folks around here were just grateful that the hospital existed. Or they were, until this last episode.
You see, and this is where you have to take a side trip to understand a few things. There’s a big old antebellum mansion we call the Jefferson Place out on the edge of town. It’s called that because local legend has it that Jefferson Davis slept there one night on his way north to surrender. We don’t know if that’s true, but that’s the story that’s been passed down. As you might imagine, it’s a big old place with pillars holding up a wide porch just perfect for sitting and rocking in the late evening as the cool settles back down after a hot Southern day. The house doesn’t look as good as it used to look, the white paint is thin in some spots and flaking right off in others. There’s nothing like the Georgia humidity and heat to destroy a good coat of paint. The shutters on the windows have been removed, and now the sun can bake the inside of the house relentlessly throughout the day. And storms have open access to the old glass. The pillars holding up the porch seem to be rotting a bit at the base and unless somebody gets to that and fixes them, the porch will start sagging. And you know when a porch starts to sag the only way to fix it is to tear it right down and rebuild it. Or, let the whole thing fall down.
Somebody from up north bought that place a few years ago at a tax sale. The family that owned it, and I’ll be polite enough not to mention their name, just couldn’t afford to keep the old place up and decided to let her go. They moved north and we’ve not heard from them since. That hasn’t been much of a problem because they were the last of their line anyway and they only left behind a few remote cousins – I think Fred over on the Third Concession is a second cousin twice removed and he’d be the closest.
But, as I said nobody’s done anything with that old place until a bunch of kids decided to move in. They had a piece of paper that said that they could live there, Sheriff Johnson checked that out pretty quickly after they moved in, and it was signed by some relative or other. A check with the Registry Office said that sure enough, they had the signature of the current owner. We’ve never seen him.
Well, as I said it was a bunch kids that moved in. And they started gardening and talking about making it into something called a sustainable homestead, whatever that is. I suspect it just means a dirt poor, hardscrabble farm. But what do I know?
The short version of this story is that one of the kids got sick, had some kind of severe pain in his stomach, and went up to the hospital.
Doc Duncan took a look at him, did all the things that doctors do to try to figure out what was wrong, got some x-rays that indicated there was a problem in his stomach that perhaps extended into his lower bowel, and recommended to the young man that he get an MRI.
Now you have to understand that a small rural hospital like ours can’t always afford an MRI, but a benefactor – one who preferred to remain anonymous – left the money to the hospital with the provision that it be used to buy one of those fancy MRI machines. Because I’m the lawyer for the hospital I know who that person is, but I’m just not at liberty to tell you. And quite frankly it doesn’t matter to this story anyway. All you have to know is that our local hospital has an MRI machine.
Well here’s where the story gets a little interesting. That young man in question was an interesting one. Not only did he have tattoos everywhere you could have a tattoo, but he also had some of those piercings just about everywhere you could have a piece of iron stuck in your body. Now to be precise, some of those pieces of metal were stainless steel, and some were iron, and even a few might’ve been copper. We’re not sure, and it doesn’t matter now anyway.
And here was the problem. The Doc pointed out that those iron bits had to be removed before you go into an MRI. He explained the young man that the strong magnetic currents in the MRI machine would likely just about pull any metal right out of his body and the pain would be intense. The doc was really clear that he wouldn’t do that examination unless the young man agreed to remove the body piercings first.
But the young man refused. Absolutely refused. And that’s when we got into a the depth of the problem.
The young man used his cell phone and called his daddy up north. I don’t think the daddy gave a damn because he found a fancy lawyer in Atlanta, who called me. That lawyer pointed out the young man had the responsibility and the ability to make a decision about this. It wasn’t up to us to refuse this treatment if the young man wanted it.
I allowed as how that might be true in some cases. But given we were going to run this man through a magnetic machine that would rip any metal out of his body, I pointed out to the lawyer that it wasn’t a good decision. The young man might not be quite so healthy at the end of the examination.
As you can imagine, this lawyer got his dander quite raised high and the next thing you know, he faxes and slaps me down with a restraining order on the hospital. He also demands this young man be given the treatment he deserved and wanted
I called the lawyer back and pointed out that nobody would deserve this kind of so-called treatment. But he had wasn’t having anything of it. It was his position the patient had the right to get the treatment he desired.
I pointed out the young man had iron firmly attached to some parts of his body and maybe even inside his body with some of those interior computer chips the young people were using. And once that MRI got a hold of those chips, they’d becoming right off and through that young man. Using that MRI might just kill him.
The lawyer then made some foolish argument that the theory of magnetism was just a theory, and if he took me to court, I’d have to prove that the theory of magnetism was true.
Naturally, I pointed out that the theory of gravity was just a theory as well, and if his client would simply jump off a building, none of this would be a problem for us.
Next, he pointed out the recent Supreme Court ruling – based on our most recent president’s predilections – that ensured that anyone who believed or didn’t believe in a theory had a right to ignore whatever restrictions were imposed by law or normally protected by the Constitution.
Settling my lawyer hat firmly on my head, I pointed out this was normally applied to the theory of evolution. And I really didn’t care what the young man thought about his ancestors, whether they were apes or not, but that if he ignored this theory, he may not live long enough to become an ancestor.
He repeated his demand the young man be given the right to having or not having faith in this theory or he’d file suit immediately to force us to comply.
Now, I had to see his legal argument and I tracked it in my mind through the courts. I knew we’d be fine locally. But I also knew that once we got up into Atlanta – and that’s where this would wind up – we’d lose. Or, rather the hospital would lose and we’d wind up on the wrong end of a lawsuit with those costs.
So I did the lawyerly thing. I said I’d put together a consent form, fax it to him, he could sign it as legally binding, and then the potential victim/patient could sign as well. That way, everybody would be happy and protected.
The lawyer agreed that this was a sound idea, and then off-the-record, he thanked me for making it easy for him to get out of the office early today and off to his golf game. He said if I ever needed a favor, just to give him a call. I said I’d remember that, and I added if he ever needed help on anything locally just to give me a call and I’d sort it out for him. We parted amicably as lawyers tend to do when scratching each other’s back.
I called the Doc, told him the bad news and said I’d be bringing over the legal document within a half-hour. I suggested he continue to talk to that young man and see if he could convince him to remove all those bits of metal. He said he done nothing but that for the last half hour while I was talking to the lawyer. He also added some comments about the likely ancestry of the patient.
Fifteen minutes later, I’d modified the normal patient agreement, faxed it over to Atlanta, and five minutes after that, we were legally clear and free of all future potential problems.
I texted the doc, “I’m on the way. Got the approval for your boy to sign.”
Three minutes later I arrived at the hospital, parked in the administrators parking spot – I knew he was out hunting – and marched into the emergency room area. One of the nurses saw me coming and pointed over to her right at one of the curtained off rooms. I angled over that way and peered in through the edge of the curtain. There was the doc and the young man still arguing about whether the piercings should come out or not.
I interrupted. I told the young man as long as he signed this form, he could have all the examinations he wanted in whatever form he wanted them to take. The damn fool signed.
The doc took a look at the form, looked at me and raised an eyebrow.
I said, “It’s legal. Your malpractice account won’t go down today. You’re fine.”
The doc said, “I won’t do this. It’s against everything I believe.”
I took a deep sigh, and replied, “Doc. You don’t have a choice. If you do this, you’re protected. If you do this and there’s a problem, you’re fine.
But, if you don’t do this, that lawyer will sue your ass off because his client’s constitutional rights have been violated, and you won’t ever be able to retire and golf every day.”
He took a breath, looked at me, and I knew he was thinking about it, so I sealed the deal. “Doc, if you have to work every day, how happy do you think Emma Louise is going to be with you?” The doc’s wife wanted him to retire. And what Emma Louise wanted, she got. And if she didn’t get it, there’d be hell to pay.
The doc gave a big sigh of surrender. He looked at the young man and said, “Sign it.”
Three minutes later, the young man, piercings and all, was lying on the MRI platform. The machine’s humming ramped up to a higher pitch and blotted out any other sound in the treatment room. The automated sequence had been programmed into the machine. All that was left was to press the start button.
In the adjoining room – there’s a window there to look into the room with the machine – the doc looked at the technician who would normally press the button, and they locked eyes. Doc Duncan is really a good man and understood the problem. He said, “Get out of there Tommy, let me get to that control panel and I’ll push the damn button.”
Tommy didn’t hesitate, but pushed his chair back right quickly. Then he stood up, shuffled to the side of the control panel where he could still see through the window to the MRI and said, “I know I don’t want to watch this, but it’s like a train wreck that you can’t take your eyes off of.”
The doc took a deep breath, let part of it out with a loud sigh, reached over and leaned on the button. With a few sensor clicks, the platform started moving towards the humming machine in its programmed sequence and it didn’t take very long before the young man’s head disappeared into the machine.
As it turned out, the piercings that we could see were only one small part of the young man’s electronic armament. He also had chips inserted in various parts of his body so that they would communicate with items such as his cell phone, door locks, and even his car. This was something far beyond what ever happened in our small town. Normally, those kinds of chips didn’t have much metal in them that would respond to a normal magnet. But were talking thousands and thousands of force field units that would pull and attract even the impurities in a small bit of metal.
And pull they did. His screaming only lasted about 10 seconds. It was – in that 10 seconds – the worst screams I have ever heard from a human being in all my years of medicine.
And then they stopped. Nobody in the control room said a thing, and we all avoided looking at each other directly.
The automated sequence of the MRI continued its travel all the way in and then returned to its original position carrying what was now a cadaver with blood and ripped skin tissue everywhere inside the machine and on the patient.
I won’t say the young man’s head exploded, but the chips that were inserted into his eardrums to enhance his hearing made a mess of the side of the face as they moved out through his cheeks. And who knew that he’d had brain implants to operate as a pleasure stimulation centre and what would happen when they came out through his eyes? His chest looked like it had been machine gunned with various holes coming from the chips that it been inserted to monitor his vital organs. As an aside, those intrigued me because I had read about them but didn’t know that they really existed or were used.
But the one that bothered me the most was at his crotch. To put it bluntly, and let me apologize to the ladies who may be reading this deposition, the entire front of his groin seemed to be missing. I looked at the nurse, and raise my eyebrow in a question. Not wanting to meet my eyes, she blushed and turned away, I turned to the technician, and asked what kind of chip would be there?
When he gave me the answer, any dream I may have had about writing this up for a legal journal disappeared.
After all, how can one read “The patient bled to death partially because of an iron ring that a magnet ripped off from around his penis,” in a respected law journal and keep a straight face?