The opinion of the court was delivered by: FREDERICK J. SCULLIN, JR.
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER
Presently before the court is defendant St. Elizabeth Hospital's (the "Hospital") motion for reconsideration of its motion to dismiss, which the court denied from the bench on February 11, 1993 (and by Order dated February 23, 1993), pursuant to Rule 10M of the Local Rules for the Northern District of New York. Familiarity with the facts is assumed for purposes of the motion.
A motion for reconsideration is addressed to the sound discretion of the district court, and is generally limited to those circumstances in which the movant shows either "(1) an intervening change of controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence; and/or (3) the need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice." McLaughlin v. State of New York, 784 F. Supp. 961, 965 (N.D.N.Y. 1992) (citations omitted).
The Hospital's argument for reconsideration amounts to a rendering of its own analysis of one of the cases cited by the court in its bench decision, Rubenstein v. Benedictine Hosp., 790 F. Supp. 396 (N.D.N.Y. 1992). The court cited Rubenstein and Ruffler v. Phelps Memorial Hospital, 453 F. Supp. 1062, 1066 (S.D.N.Y. 1978) as two representative cases in which courts have found state action, notwithstanding the defendants' status in those cases as private hospitals. According to the Hospital's analysis of Rubenstein, the court's reliance upon this case was misplaced.
Contrary to the Hospital's apparent assumption, the court did not specifically limit its decision, in reliance upon Rubenstein, on a "conclusion that the complaint adequately alleges state action in that St. Elizabeth was performing a 'public function' in treating plaintiff for her injuries." Bilello Aff., Doc. 43 at P 11. The court stated in its decision that "the underlying question is whether the alleged infringement of rights by the private actor is 'fairly attributable' to the state, Benedictine case." [citing Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 102 S. Ct. 2744, 73 L. Ed. 2d 482 (1982)]. Transcript, Doc. 40 at 19.
The court cannot ascertain, at this juncture, whether the Hospital's actions as alleged in this case are "fairly attributable" to the State; at the very least, the parties must conduct discovery in order to resolve this issue. See Baltz v. County of Will, 609 F. Supp. 992, 997 (D.C. Ill. 1985). In this regard, the Hospital maintains that it cannot be held liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as it "was performing a function traditionally performed by private hospitals, i.e., the care and treatment of injured persons," Bilello Aff., Doc. 43 at P 12, while treating Plaintiff.
However, the court cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, find that Plaintiff's complaint, which includes allegations that she was taken against her will to the Hospital by defendant police officers, that while there she was restrained and involuntarily given medical treatment, and was forced to undergo a mental examination, describes routine treatment procedures for a private hospital. Moreover, following this treatment, Plaintiff was "discharged from St. Elizabeth into the custody of the State Police." Id. at 11 (other reference omitted).
The court is certainly cognizant of the factual differences between Rubenstein and the present case; i.e., the Plaintiff does not allege that the Hospital subjected her to de jure involuntary commitment. Nevertheless, the court finds that as the factual scenario in the present case, although technically falling short of actual involuntary commitment, involves allegations of involuntary confinement and restraint, the court must deny the Hospital's motion to dismiss in favor of allowing discovery to proceed. See Ruffler v. Phelps Memorial Hospital, 453 F. Supp. 1062, 1066 (S.D.N.Y. 1978) ("there can be no doubt that involuntary confinement to a mental hospital, like involuntary confinement of an individual for any reason, is a deprivation of liberty which the State cannot accomplish without due process of law.") (emphasis added) (quoting O'Connor v. Donaldson, 422 U.S. 563, 580, 95 S. Ct. 2486, 2496, 45 L. Ed. 2d 396 (1975) (other citations omitted)).
As Mrs. Palaimo sets forth allegations in her complaint of, inter alia, involuntary confinement, until the facts are more fully known as to the State's role, if any, in the Hospital's alleged decision to confine Mrs. Palaimo against her will, the court will ...