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DEMARCO v. SADIKER

September 25, 1996

BRIAN DEMARCO, Plaintiff, against S. SADIKER, M.D., personally, EDGAR PAIZIN, M.D., personally, S. SINGH OHSON, M.D., personally, JOHN P. IAFRETE, M.D., in his official capacity as Executive Director of Pilgrim Psychiatric Center, Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROSS

 ROSS, United States District Judge:

 Plaintiff has brought a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law claims of false imprisonment as a result of his involuntary confinement at the Pilgrim Psychiatric Center. Plaintiff alleges that defendants violated his right to substantive due process by confining him involuntarily even though he was not a danger to himself or others. Plaintiff also alleges that defendants violated his right to procedural due process by failing to comply with the requirements of N.Y. Mental Hygiene Law § 9.37 ("M.H.L. § 9.37"), which allows for the involuntary confinement of a mentally ill person who poses a likely risk of serious harm to himself or others. Further, plaintiff alleges that defendants falsely imprisoned him by intentionally confining him without his consent and without a privilege to do so.

 This court previously granted summary judgment to defendants Sadiker, Ohson and Iafrete on all claims but denied summary judgment to defendant Paiz *fn1" pending further discovery on the issue of whether Dr. Paiz performed a legally sufficient psychiatric examination. Demarco v. Sadiker, 897 F. Supp. 693 (E.D.N.Y. 1995). Plaintiff timely moved for reargument oil the issue of Dr. Iafrete's motion to dismiss the demand for expungement, an application that the court deferred pending an anticipated renewed motion for summary judgment, following limited discovery, with respect to defendant Paiz. Defendant Paiz has now renewed his motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff cross-moves for summary judgment against defendant Paiz and moves for reargument of this court's grant of defendant Iafrete's motion to dismiss, which denied plaintiff the remedy of expunging his record. For the reasons discussed below, Dr. Paiz's and plaintiff's motions for summary judgment are denied. The court also modifies its Order of May 22, 1995 and denies Dr. Iafrete's motion to dismiss.

 FACTUAL BACKGROUND

 A more complete discussion of the facts is included in the court's prior decision, Demarco v. Sadiker, 897 F. Supp. 693, familiarity with which is assumed. The following briefly summarizes those facts relevant to the present motions.

 After arriving at PPC, plaintiff came into contact with Dr. Paiz. Apparently, both plaintiff and Dr. Paiz agree that this contact began at approximately 12:45 p.m. Plaintiff and Dr. Paiz present divergent stories on what occurred after that time. Dr. Paiz testified at his deposition that he read Dr. Sadiker's Certificate of Application for Involuntary Admission, observed the plaintiff and may have asked the plaintiff a few questions, possibly limited to questions about how plaintiff was feeling. Then, still at approximately 12:45 p.m., Dr. Paiz signed the Physician's Confirmation of Need for Immediate Hospitalization. At 1:00 p.m., Dr. Paiz began filling out his Screening/Admission Note. Dr. Paiz also attested that he conducted a psychological examination of the plaintiff as well as two different forms of physiological examinations. While he is clear that January 1, 1993 was a hectic day, and that he received numerous phone calls during the time that he claims he was with the plaintiff, Dr. Paiz is unclear as to how much time he spent with the plaintiff, describing it alternately as a half-hour or an hour. Plaintiff, on the other hand, flatly denied at his deposition that Dr. Paiz ever examined him at all.

 DISCUSSION

 I. Summary Judgment Standard

 A party seeking summary judgment bears the burden of demonstrating that no genuine issue of material fact exists and that no reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2511, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986). In determining whether there are material issues in dispute, the court must draw all factual inferences and view all factual assertions in favor of the nonmoving party. Rodriguez v. City of New York, 72 F.3d 1051, 1061 (2d Cir. 1995). If "there is any evidence in the record from which a reasonable inference could be drawn in favor of the nonmoving party, summary judgment is improper." Id.

 II. Due Process and Involuntary Commitment

 An involuntary civil commitment is a "massive curtailment of liberty." Vitek v. Jones, 445 U.S. 480, 491, 100 S. Ct. 1254, 1263, 63 L. Ed. 2d 552 (1980). Consequently, a state may not constitutionally "confine without more a nondangerous individual who is capable of surviving safely in freedom by himself or with the help of willing and responsible family members or friends." O'Connor v. Donaldson, 422 U.S. 563, 576, 95 S. Ct. 2486, 2494, 45 L. Ed. 2d 396 (1975). The due process protections include both a procedural and a substantive component. Demarco, 897 F. Supp. at 699. While the Second Circuit has determined that the strictures of the New York civil commitment statute meet the standards ...


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