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Woman sues over electrical shock suffered at circuit court

A Baltimore woman who claims she suffered a debilitating shock last month while being scanned in court by a metal-detecting wand is suing the city Friday, alleging violations of her constitutional right to due process and her statutory right to reasonable accommodations under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Linda Carter filed suit in the same Baltimore City Circuit Court where she alleges the wand reacted with a neurotransmitter that was surgically implanted in her spine to manage chronic pain. Carter said she told security officers of the electrical threat posed by the wand but they examined her anyway, then declined to treat her when the resulting shock sent her to the ground.

She was in court March 28 to attend a hearing related to her pending divorce, according to the complaint.

Court security personnel were on notice of her disability because she had suffered a similar shock at the courthouse in November, said Charles H. Edwards IV, an attorney for Carter.

“We’re seeking to send a shock back to them,” Edwards said of the lawsuit, which seeks undisclosed compensatory and punitive damages. The lawsuit also seeks to “shock them into compliance with the ADA and their duty to accommodate disabled visitors so as to ensure their access to the courts [under] the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution,” added Edwards, an attorney with the Law Office of Barry R. Glazer PC in Baltimore.

Baltimore City Solicitor George A. Nilson said Friday afternoon that he was “not aware of the claim” and had “never heard of the case or the incident” alleged in the lawsuit.

“We will address it and respond to it when we are served with the complaint,” Nilson said.

In the complaint, Carter alleges she explained her disability and showed a medical identification card to one of the security officers, identified in court papers as John Doe 2. He sent her to a separate screening area and told the guard there to conduct a security pat-down rather than a wanding.

But that guard, identified as John Doe 3, “suddenly and without warning” used the wand anyway, stating “it is policy,” according to the complaint. Carter felt an electronic shock and collapsed. Even after she was able to stand, the shocks continued.

The guards, meanwhile, continued to screen visitors and did not offer Carter any assistance, the complaint states.

Carter went to her hearing before Judge Yvette M. Bryant, who, after learning of Carter’s condition, called an ambulance and told her to “get a lawyer,” according to the complaint.

Bryant, through an aide, declined to comment late Friday afternoon.

In addition to the due-process and ADA violations, Carter alleges gross negligence and negligent hiring, training, supervision, discipline and retention.

In addition to the city, named defendants are the State of Maryland, Baltimore City Circuit Court Administrator Beverly Carter and Baltimore City Sheriff John W. Anderson, who appoints court security.