Nurse Gets Arrested For Refusing Blood Draw Order
Depalis-Lachaud v. Noel
U.S. Court of Appeals (11 th Cir. 2013) – No. 12-12903 (Unpublished)

A deputy sheriff transported a suspected drunk driver to the hospital following an accident, and directed a registered nurse to draw blood for evidentiary purposes. The nurse declined to do so without at least talking to a superior or on-duty doctor, and was arrested by the deputy for allegedly violating Florida statutes 843.02 (resisting or obstructing an officer in the execution of any legal duty) and 843.06 (neglecting or refusing an officer in the execution of his office in a criminal case).

The nurse brought a 1983 civil rights action against the deputy sheriff, and in reversing an order for summary judgment against the deputy, the Court held that “a reasonable officer could believe that [the nurse] obstructed, resisted, or opposed [the deputy’s] efforts to obtain the blood sample in violation of [the foregoing statutes]. The Court also affirmed the trial court’s denial of the deputy’s motion for summary judgment, thus leaving him potentially liable.

Editor’s Note: Police officers have “qualified immunity" in 1983 actions, which shields them from liability for false arrest claims if they are able to show the existence of either factual or arguable probable cause to arrest.