Family of man attacked at College Medical Center files wrongful death lawsuit

The family of a man who was allegedly attacked in his hospital bed by another patient and died of his injuries a week later has filed suit against College Medical Center as well as two of its executives and a hospital staff member.

Francisco Sanchez-Reyes, 73, was at the medical center getting treatment for a urinary tract infection on Jan. 31, 2020 when he was allegedly attacked by Reginald Panthier, 37, and left bleeding in his bed, according to the complaint.

The family filed an amended complaint in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Aug. 19 alleging the hospital was negligent and violated the Elder and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act, and is seeking unspecified damages.

Larry T. Pleiss, the Irvine-based attorney representing College Medical Center, declined to comment.

Panthier was apparently homeless when he first arrived at College Medical Center on Jan. 30, 2020, complaining of pain in his left foot and left wrist, according to the complaint. Most of the 220 beds at the hospital are licensed for behavioral health services.

Panthier had an “extensive psychiatric history including paranoid schizophrenia, acute psychosis, bipolar disorder, and Methamphetamine abuse,” according to the complaint.

He also had a criminal history in Ventura County. Court records show he pleaded guilty to threatening an elderly victim in 2012 and pleaded guilty to vehicle burglary in 2002.

Throughout Jan. 30, hospital personnel found nothing wrong with Panthier’s foot and wrist, but noted that Panthier, who was 6-foot-1 and weighed 198 pounds, was “rambling” and complained of having “amnesia,” according to the complaint. The doctor who examined him on arrival asked for psychiatric evaluation.

One nurse subsequently noted that Panthier had a “methamphetamine addiction.” Another reported that Panthier was “lethargic,” “depressed” and “hopeless,” and also noted that he had bipolar disorder, was seen “talking to himself” and could become hostile, uncooperative and disoriented, states the complaint.

Hospital personnel first placed Panthier in room 204, which was shared with another patient. But after Panthier began complaining that he was hearing voices from the TV set the other patient was watching, hospital personnel moved Panthier’s roommate, according to the complaint.

Sanchez-Reyes arrived at the hospital early on Jan. 31, suffering from a urinary tract infection. His medical history included a variety of ailments, including Alzheimer’s dementia, diabetes, hypertension, chronic vertigo, muscle spasms and arthritis, states the complaint.

Hospital personnel then placed Sanchez-Reyes in Room 204 with Panthier. Though Sanchez-Reyes’ daughter said she thought it was odd for her father to be in the same room with someone as “physically imposing” as Panthier, nurses reassured her that her father would be safe, the complaint states.

Around 10:15 a.m., Panthier began complaining to hospital staff that Sanchez-Reyes “was trying to rape him,” though hospital staff took no action, states the complaint.

About an hour later, Panthier allegedly “beat Mr. Sanchez so badly, that he was bleeding from his ear when the assault was discovered by staff,” states the complaint.

Panthier was immediately arrested on suspicion of assault, and hospital staff immediately transferred Sanchez-Reyes to another a hospital, where he died from his injuries more than a week later.

As a result of the hospital’s failure to provide proper custodial care, Sanchez-Reyes “was savagely and senselessly beaten to death by his assigned roommate,” states the complaint.

Panthier is currently facing four counts of assault and murder, and has pleaded not guilty.

Man accused of killing hospital roommate has mental health history, lives in Ventura, family says

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Anthony Pignataro is an investigative reporter and editor for the Long Beach Post. He has close to three decades of experience in journalism leading numerous investigations and long-form journalism projects for the OC Weekly and other publications. He joined the Post in May 2021.
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