Woman sues David Lawrence Center, alleging assault, improper detention


NAPLES, Fla. A woman sued the David Lawrence Center last week, alleging staff assaulted and improperly detained her.

The woman, identified only as Jane Doe, is seeking more than $15,000 in damages from the Naples mental health provider. She showed up at the center for a January appointment to switch anti-depressant medications and wound up forced into a corner with more than a dozen people, she said.

“Everything, all my personal belongings are gone from me, and they’re dragging me into this room with this bed,” she said. “And next thing I know I had my face down in a bed just being searched, fondled, touched.”

Surveillance video shows staff holding her down on the bed. The woman was detained under the Baker Act, a Florida mental health law that allows detention of up to 72 hours at a time of anyone determined to be a threat to themselves or others.

The surveillance footage carries no audio, making it hard to tell what led up to her detention, Dr. Laura Streyffeler said. Nevertheless, the staff’s actions appear excessive, Streyffeler said.

“Somebody that is having passing suicidal thoughts or is thinking they don’t want to be here anymore, or is just really struggling with severe depression or helplessness or hopelessness does not meet the criteria for a Baker Act,” Streyffeler said.

The woman was never suicidal, according to her attorney, Dennis Webb.

“The record is devoid of any reference to suicide or anything like that,” Webb said.

A staff member explained that she was held because she was “indecisive” and “crying,” the woman said. She was released hours after she was initially detained.


The David Lawrence Center released a statement saying, “The facility is aware of the allegations and does not comment on matters in active litigation. However, we are confident in our process and that the facility will ultimately be found to have acted appropriately.”

The facility charged the woman $1,000 for the visit.

Read her lawsuit below:

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