Last August a homeless man was mistaken for someone else, arrested, and held in a mental hospital for more than two years. The Hawaii Innocence Project, a group advocating for the freedom of the wrongfully incarcerated, alleges Joshua Spriestersbach was arrested in 2017, after being mistaken for Thomas Castleberry, who had an arrest warrant for allegedly violating probation.
If you or a loved one have suffered from mistaken identity which led to misdiagnosis or negligent treatment by a medical provider, you need someone representing you with extensive experience in handling complex medical malpractice claims. The Honolulu medical malpractice attorneys at Kurzban, Kurzban, Tetzeli, and Pratt, P.A. can help.
Spriestersbach was mistaken for Thomas Castleberry, who had an outstanding arrest warrant for allegedly violating probation back in 2006. At the time, Castleberry had been charged with various crimes in three different states. The real Castleberry is currently incarcerated in Alaska and has been since 2015.
After being arrested while waiting outside of a Chinatown homeless shelter for food, Spriestersbach lost two years and eight months in a state-run mental hospital.
Co-founder of the Hawaii Innocence Project Ken Lawson said the whole misunderstanding could have been avoided if the arresting officers would have taken “five minutes to…Google the real Castleberry.”
Spriestersbach fingerprints were never compared to Castleberry’s, and he was held in the Oahu Community Correctional Center for three months. After he had been deemed “incompetent,” he was then transferred to the Hawaii State Hospital
Although Spriestersbach does have a mental disability, he made repeated attempts to convince the hospital staff he was not Thomas Castleberry.
“The more he told them…the more delusional they thought he was,” Lawson said. “To the point where they went to court and asked a judge to give them permission to force him to take medication that he was refusing to take.”
Finally, a doctor listened to Spriestersbach’s claims and called for the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) to investigate.
After his identity was confirmed, Spriestersbach was released, and since earlier this year, lives with his sister in Vermont. She recently claimed he was “a shell of his former self…overly medicated and looked like he’d been through hell.”
Lawson wants to hold the HPD and the Hawaii’s Department of Health to acknowledge their errors. A court date has not yet been set for the case.
According to Johns Hopkins University, preventable medical errors are the third leading cause of death. When you need help from a medical professional, you should not have to second-guess their decisions or wonder if they have your best interests in mind or worry about suffering more injuries or becoming sicker because of their decisions and actions.
The Hawaii medical negligence attorneys at Kurzban, Kurzban, Tetzeli, and Pratt, P.A. want to use our resources to help you. We can conduct the necessary investigations to determine what happened, make sure you get fairly treatment, and receive the compensation needed for you to make a full recovery.