Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

DEPOEL v. CITY OF NEW YORK

August 7, 1991

TOVE DEPOEL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, THE NEW YORK CITY HEALTH AND HOSPITALS CORPORATION, JOHN DOE, M.D., A PHYSICIAN WHOSE IDENTITY IS UNKNOWN AT THIS TIME, AND DEVA ALAPATI, M.D., PERSONALLY, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Nickerson, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Tove dePoel brings this action against defendants the City of New York, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, a doctor sued as John Doe, M.D., and Deva Alapati, M.D., claiming that defendants violated her rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution by committing her involuntarily to a hospital without a proper finding that her mental illness was "likely to result in serious harm" to herself or others, by not affording her the prompt hearing required under New York law, and by not advising her of her potential liability for the costs of treatment.

This court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, granting jurisdiction over civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, and treaties of the United States, and 28 U.S.C. § 1343(a)(3), granting jurisdiction over actions arising under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Defendants move to dismiss or for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) or 56, contending that the plaintiff has not made out a claim for which relief may be granted and that the action is barred by the applicable three year statute of limitations.

Both sides have submitted proof outside the complaint, and the court treats the motion as one for summary judgment.

Many of the facts are not in dispute.

On August 19, 1987, police officers brought plaintiff to the Queens Hospital Center believing she was suffering from mental illness. Plaintiff was initially examined by the doctor sued as John Doe, M.D., whose illegible signature is on the Record of Emergency Admission, a form issued by the State Office of Mental Health for use for emergency admissions under § 9.39 of the New York State Mental Hygiene Law.

Section 9.39 provides in pertinent part that "[t]he director of any [qualified] hospital . . . may receive and retain therein as a patient for a period of fifteen days any person alleged to have a mental illness for which immediate observation, care, and treatment in a hospital is appropriate and which is likely to result in serious harm to himself or others. . . ."

The section provides that "Likelihood to result in serious harm" shall mean:

  1. substantial risk of physical harm to himself as
  manifested by threats of or attempts at suicide or
  serious bodily harm or other conduct demonstrating
  that he is dangerous to himself, or
  2. a substantial risk of physical harm to other
  persons as manifested by homicidal or other
  violent behavior by which others are placed in
  reasonable fear of serious physical harm.

The section also provides that the director of the hospital shall admit the person only if a staff physician upon examination finds the person qualifies under the section. But the person may not be retained for more than forty-eight hours unless the finding is confirmed by another staff psychiatrist. The person may then be retained for fifteen days, but not beyond that unless on a new admission on an application supported by two new examining physicians' certificates.

The emergency admission form recites the substance of these provisions of § 9.39, leaves a space for the admitting physician to describe the circumstances which led to the hospitalization, and contains a printed statement that "I have examined the patient named above and confirm his need for immediate observation, care and treatment for a mental illness which is likely to result in serious harm to himself or others."

The doctor wrote on the form used to admit plaintiff: "Pt has been disorganized, unkempt, grossly delusional, paranoid, unable to take care of herself or house." He wrote nothing about "serious harm" but certified plaintiff for emergency involuntary confinement. Two days later defendant Dr. Alapati signed a form entitled "Examination for 48-hour confirmation of need for emergency admission." ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.