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Woe v. Cuomo

decided: September 29, 1986.

WALTER WOE, BY HIS MOTHER AND GUARDIAN, WILMA WOE, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,
v.
MARIO CUOMO, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK; DR. STEVEN KATZ, M.D., INDIVIDUALLY AND AS COMMISSIONER OF THE DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HYGIENE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK; DR. E. RICHARD FEINBERG, M.D., INDIVIDUALLY AND AS DIRECTOR OF BRONX PSYCHIATRIC CENTER; DR. ORDOGAN TEKBEN, M.D., INDIVIDUALLY AND AS DIRECTOR OF MID-HUDSON PSYCHIATRIC CENTER, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



Appeal from an order of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Neaher, J.), permanently enjoining defendants from admitting additional patients to Bronx Psychiatric Center, a state hospital for involuntarily civilly committed mental patients, subject to thirty-day review. Affirmed in part, modified, and remanded.

Author: Altimari

Before: CARDAMONE, PIERCE, and ALTIMARI, Circuit Judges.

ALTIMARI, Circuit Judge:

This appeal follows this court's decision in Woe v. Cuomo, 729 F.2d 96 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 469 U.S. 936, 105 S. Ct. 339, 83 L. Ed. 2d 274 (1984), familiarity with which is assumed. In that decision, we affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' state law and equal protection objections to the adequacy of care at certain mental health facilities, and reversed and remanded to afford plaintiffs an opportunity to document the due process defects alleged in their complaint.

On remand, the district court conducted hearings over a four-month period ending in August, 1985, during which plaintiffs presented evidence concerning the adequacy of care at Mid-Hudson Psychiatric Center ("Mid-Hudson") and Bronx Psychiatric Center ("BPC") in support of their motion for preliminary injunctive relief. On July 1, 1986, the district court issued its decision, finding "that the quality of care at the Bronx [Psychiatric Center] fell below below constitutionally adequate standards" largely as a result of "chronic and persistent overcrowding." The court enjoined defendants from admitting additional patients to BPC and directed that the injunction be categorized as permanent rather than preliminary because "to continue to characterize these proceedings as an application for a preliminary injunction misperceives the record and the nature of the Court of Appeals remand."

As to Mid-Hudson, the district court found the record to be "unenlightening" on the question of whether defendants provided adequate treatment and, accordingly, denied plaintiffs' application for injunctive relief. The district court also recertified the original class and divided that class "into subclasses consisting of all persons between the ages of 21 and 65 who are or who will be involuntarily civilly committed to a named New York State mental institution."

Appellants now seek review of that portion of the district court's order that relates to BPC. In particular, appellants contend that the district court (1) erred by granting appellees permanent injunctive relief without advising appellants that a final disposition on the merits was at issue; (2) abused its discretion by finding the quality of care at BPC to be constitutionally substandard; (3) abused its discretion by enjoining appellants from admitting further patients to BPC; and (4) exceeded the scope of this court's remand by certifying overinclusive subclasses.

Discussion

1. Appropriateness of the district court's issuance of a permanent injunction

As stated above, the district court in its decision of July 1, 1986, converted appellees' application for a preliminary injunction into a permanent disposition on the merits. Rejecting appellants' "Erroneous assumption" regarding the nature of the extensive 1985 hearings, the district court indicated that it "did not take evidence and require the production of witnesses in order to hold the trial on the merits at some future date."

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(a)(2) provides:

Before or after the commencement of the hearing of an application for a preliminary injunction, the court may order the trial of the action on the merits to be advanced and consolidated with the hearing of the application.

Fed. R. Civ. P.65(a)(2). Courts may consolidate a trial on the merits with a hearing on a motion for preliminary injunctive relief only after "the parties. . . receive clear and unambiguous notice [of the court's intent to do so] either before the hearing commences or at a time which will still afford the parties a full opportunity to present their respective cases." Pughsley v. 3750 Lake Shore Drive Cooperative Bldg., 463 F.2d 1055, 1057 (7th Cir. 1972), quoted in University of Texas v. Camenisch, 451 U.S. 390, 395, 68 L. Ed. 2d 175, 101 S. Ct. 1830 (1981); see Wohlfahrt v. Memorial Medical Center, 658 F.2d 416, 418 (5th Cir. 1981); Commodity Futures Trading Commission v. Board of Trade, 657 F.2d 124, 126-27 (7th Cir. 1981); Gellman v. State of Maryland, 538 F.2d 603, 604-05 (4th Cir. 1976); Santiago v. Corporacion de Renovacion Urbana, Etc., 453 F.2d 794, 797-98 (1st Cir. 1972).

The record clearly indicates that appellants' counsel functioned throughout the hearing under the belief that only a motion for temporary relief and not the merits of the claim was at issue. See Joint App. 107-110, 112, 128, 129, 133, 142, 145, 147-48, 272, 322, 398-400, 422, 425, 448 450, 623, 660, 731, 745, 752-53, 794, 807, 814. while appellees but on an extensive case in their favor, consisting of six witnesses ...


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