Court records: Atlantic Beach mayor refused hospitalization for mental illness

Three years ago, doctors recommended Atlantic Beach Mayor Retha Pierce be hospitalized for hallucinations, manic behavior and because she was danger to herself. The recommendation came after Pierce sought inpatient treatment at Brunswick Community Hospital in Supply, North Carolina for what appeared to be a stroke. There's no indication Pierce ever received treatment.

In a lawsuit Pierce later filed against Brunswick Community Hospital, she stated because she was the mayor of Atlantic Beach, she sought treatment for the stroke symptoms in North Carolina rather than in a South Carolina hospital "because of her premonition that something would happen to her at a hospital" and her belief that "she could be set up somehow in a South Carolina hospital, considering the inconceivable ills that she had already suffered via politics in the State of South Carolina."

In October 2009, doctors with North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services recommended Retha Sturdivant, a.k.a Retha Pierce, for immediate hospitalization to prevent harm to herself and others.

Pierce's recommendation for involuntary commitment would not be public record, if it had not been for the lawsuit.

Pierce's suit against Dr. Ro-Lyan Reid, the doctor who filed the involuntary committment, an unnamed nurse identified as "Myrtle Beach Employee," and Brunswick Community Hospital alleges violations of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, fraud alleging falsification of her medical records, falsification of a mental illness diagnosis, medical malpractice, libel and slander, and communication or publication of the alleged false mental illness diagnosis.

Pierce claimed in the suit the nurse who cared for her on her first day in the hospital, the unnamed Myrtle Beach Employee, recognized her as the mayor of Atlantic Beach and repeatedly urged her to give up her job as mayor.

Pierce "realized that South Carolina was right there in North Carolina in the room with her. The Plaintiff (Pierce) just could not make any sense of why a presumed nurse never seemed compassionate about her medical condition and kept telling her over and over to give up her position as mayor with an attitude," she claimed in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also alleged Dr. Reid mocked Pierce's religious beliefs and violated her free speech rights after she told him God healed her of her stroke symptoms.

Pierce further alleged that Dr. Reid ordered her, over her objection, to be transported by the sheriff to a mental health facility for a psychiatric evaluation.

On December 14, 2012, U.S. Magistrate Judge James E. Gates recommended dismissal of Pierce's suit.

Pierce filed an objection motion on January 4, 2013.

Pierce is currently the mayor of Atlantic Beach, pending her appeal to the South Carolina Supreme Court of a May 22, 2012 election ordered by Governor Nikki Haley.

Pierce lost the election to councilman Jake Evans.