Claimant's application is for permission to file notice of claim pursuant to subdivision 5 of section 10 of the Court of Claims Act, which reads: "But if the claimant shall be under legal disability, the claim may be presented within two years after such disability is removed."
Claimant contends that this legal disability continued until final discharge from the hospital on June 19, 1967.
The State, in opposing the filing of the claim, contends:
1. That claimant, while in Central Islip Hospital, became a voluntary patient on April 18, 1966, and as such was under no legal disability.
2. That "assuming, but not conceding the claimant was under disability until her release from the hospital on June 9, 1966, that such disability terminated on that date because she was placed on convalescent care and that the claimant was not under disability while on such convalescent care or status."
On November 8, 1965 claimant, Marie Boland, was admitted to Central Islip Hospital, pursuant to an order of a Justice of the Supreme Court, New York County, and based upon the certificate of two physicians. On April 18, 1966 the claimant, while still a patient at this hospital, signed a paper designated as "Application for Hospitalization", which the State claims made her a voluntary patient in this hospital, which hospital is strictly one for the care and treatment of those who are mentally ill.
On June 9, 1966 the claimant was released from the Central Islip Hospital, but not discharged. She was placed under what is known as "convalescent status", with a discharge diagnosis of "Schizophrenia, Paranoid. Improved".
Upon admission to Central Islip Hospital and upon the date that convalescent status was recommended, and upon final discharge from convalescent care and from the hospital, the diagnosis was the same, to wit: Schizophrenia, Paranoid, except for the additional finding of "Improved", upon discharge.
In her claim herein, claimant alleges, among other things, that she was falsely certified to Central Islip State Hospital on November 8, 1965 as being mentally ill and in need of hospitalization, and for having been illegally detained in said institution from November 8, 1965 to and including June 9, 1966, on an invalid order of certification, and for the negligence of the doctors of the staff of said hospital in departing from the usual and properly approved methods of diagnosing and treating alleged mental illness. She further claims that she was under the jurisdiction of the State Department of Mental Hygiene and subject to its order and control up to and including her final discharge from the "After-Care Clinic" of said department and by Central Islip Hospital on June 19, 1967.
The first question raised is whether the claimant was or was not under legal disability while a patient in Central Islip Hospital as a "voluntary patient". I shall not for the purposes of determining this motion consider the defense raised by the claimant, to wit: that she was forced or compelled to change her status from that of "involuntary" to "voluntary" status. I find no difficulty in determining that she was indeed under a legal disability within the meaning of the law, and particularly within the meaning of subdivision 5 of section 10 of the Court of Claims Act, at the time she was actually confined to the institution and under their complete control and in their detention.
As is emphasized by the claimant, she was committed or certified to Central Islip Hospital by the order of a Supreme Court Justice of this State on November 3, 1965, for a period not to exceed six months. Pursuant to said order, based on the certificate of two physicians, the court found claimant to be mentally ill and in need of hospital care and treatment, and she was admitted on November 8, 1965. Although the six months' period authorized by said court order expired on May 8, 1966, she was not released then nor was she released until June 9, 1966. She states further that, if she was in truth and in fact a voluntary patient on April 18, 1966, why did not the hospital release her then; and what authority did it have to keep her confined until June 9, 1966? Further, what was its authority to order her on convalescent care and to keep her in that classification until her final discharge on June 19, 1967?
There is no question that she was in the institution pursuant to an order of Justice George Tilzer of the State Supreme Court, and, until discharged by the hospital, the judicial determination was in force and effect.
As was ably stated by Justice Benjamin Brenner in People ex rel. Kaminstein v. Brooklyn State Hosp. (49 Misc. 2d 57, 62), "A person who is alleged to be mentally ill and who meekly submits to the authorized pressure for voluntary status or is unaware of his right to resist that pressure deserves, even the ...