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Bryant v. Steele

United States District Court, E.D. New York

June 3, 2014

PATRICK BRYANT, Plaintiff,
v.
KRISTIN STEELE, personally, THOMAS VERTREES, M.D., personally, DAVID MARGUILIES, M.D., personally, BRENDA GARRO, M.D., personally, STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER, THEDDEUS IHENNACHO, M.D., ABID IQBAL KHAN, M.D., personally, LLOYD SOOKU, M.D., personally, and BRUNSWICK HOSPITAL CENTER, INC., Defendants

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For Plaintiff: Robert James Malone, Esq., Of Counsel, Law Office of Ray Malone, PLLC, Miller Place, NY.

For Plaintiff: William M. Brooks, Esq., Michelle K. Caldera, Esq., Of Counsel, Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center, Civil Rights Clinic, Central Islip, NY.

For Kristin Steele, personally; Thomas Vertrees, M.D., personally, David Marguiles, M.D., personally; Brenda Garro, M.D., personally; and Stony Brook University Medical Center, Defendants: Ralph Pernick, Assistant Attorney General, New York State Attorney General's Office, Mineola, NY.

For Theddeus Ihennacho, M.D., personally and Abid Iqbal Khan, M.D., personally, Defendant: Brian E. Lee, Esq., Of Counsel, Ivone, Devine & Jensen, Lake Success, NY.

For Brunswick Hospital Center, Inc., Defendant: Greg M. Mondelli, Esq., Of Counsel, Lewis, Johs, Avallone, Aviles, Melville, NY.

NO APPERANCES: Lloyd Sooku, M.D., personally.

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MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

ARTHUR D. SPATT, United States District Judge.

This civil rights and medical malpractice action arises out of the involuntary hospitalization of the Plaintiff (" Patrick Bryant" ) at the Defendants Stony Brook University Medical Center (" Stony Brook" ) and the Brunswick Hospital Center, Inc. (" Brunswick" ) in March 2011. Presently pending before the Court are (1) a motion by the Defendants Kristen Steele, Brenda Garro, M.D., and Stony Brook (collectively the " State Defendants" ) to dismiss the second amended complaint

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against them for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and (2) a separate motion by Brunswick to dismiss the original complaint -- now, directed at the second amended complaint -- against it for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For the reasons set forth, the motions are granted in part and denied in part.

I. BACKGROUND

Unless otherwise stated, the following facts are drawn from the second amended complaint and construed in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, the Plaintiff.

A. The Parties

The Plaintiff is a resident of Suffolk County in New York State.

The Defendant Kristen Steele was at all relevant times a member of the Mobile Crisis Unit operated by the New York State Office of Mental Health in Suffolk County (the " OMH" ).

The Defendant Thomas Vertrees, M.D. was at all relevant times a designee of the Director of Community Services in Suffolk County.

The Defendant David Marguiles, M.D. was at all relevant times a designee of the Director of Community Services in Suffolk County.

The Defendant Brenda Garro, M.D. was at all relevant times a physician employed by Stony Brook.

Stony Brook is operated by the State of New York, and, in turn, operates a Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (the " CPEP" ).

The Defendant Theddeus Ihennacho, M.D. was at all relevant times a physician employed by the Defendant Brunswick Hospital Center, Inc. which is licensed by the OMH to provide psychiatric services.

The Defendant Abid Iqbal Khan, M.D. was at all relevant times a physician employed by Brunswick.

Finally, the Defendant Lloyd Sookhu, M.D. was at all relevant times a physician employed by Brunswick.

B. Procedural History

In late 2010 and into the early part of 2011, the Plaintiff allegedly received several telephone calls from unidentified persons that he perceived to be threatening. On February 7, 2011, the Plaintiff sought assistance from the Suffolk County Police Department to investigate these calls.

Between March 14, 2011 and March 21, 2011, the Plaintiff twice contacted the Internal Affairs Division of the Suffolk County Police Department to complain about the lack of progress of police work in connection with the allegedly threatening telephone calls. However, the Suffolk County Police perceived the Plaintiff's reports to them and his behavior as manifestations of mental illness.

At some point, the police contacted the Mobile Crisis Unit operated by the OMH to evaluate the Plaintiff. Part of the function of the Mobile Crisis Unit is to promptly assess the need for emergency mental health evaluations for individuals deemed to be in crisis.

On March 21, 2011, co-defendant Steele, a social worker who was part of the Mobile Crisis Unit, accompanied by two Suffolk County Police officers, approached the Plaintiff's home. The Plaintiff met them outside his home and the police engaged the Plaintiff in discussion.

During the conversation with the police, the Plaintiff mentioned that he had old hunting rifles in his home. The rifles were collector's items: a Marlin; a World War

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II British rifle; a World War I Eddystone; and a 1930's Spanish Mauser. The rifles were kept in a glass display in the Plaintiff's bedroom, were not loaded, and some had never been used by the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff kept the rifles in a display cabinet as collector's items because he no longer hunted deer as a hobby that he once enjoyed with his friends during the 1980s. According to the Plaintiff, he had not used or intended to use the rifles since 1989 when he was issued his last hunting permit.

When the police asked the Plaintiff for more information about the rifles, he explained that he had four hunting rifles which he had not used in twenty-three years and had no intentions of using them. The Plaintiff further stated to the police that the rifles were dusty and therefore inoperable in their current condition. Shortly thereafter, the conversation ended, the police and social workers permitted the Plaintiff to return to his home.

The Plaintiff alleges that, notwithstanding his logical and coherent responses to the questions, Steele determined that the Plaintiff manifested symptoms of mental illness that required psychiatric evaluation.

Steele was never directly responsible for the Plaintiff's treatment prior to or subsequent to March 21, 2011. Steele communicated with the Directors of Community Services Designees, the Defendants Thomas Vertrees, M.D. and David Margulies, M.D. in connection the removal of the Plaintiff from his home pursuant to the provisions of New York Mental Hygiene Law § 9.45. Steele reported to Drs. Vertrees and Margulies that the Plaintiff suffered from a mental illness for which immediate care and treatment in a hospital was appropriate.

The Plaintiff alleges that he never suffered from a mental illness for which immediate care and treatment in a hospital was appropriate and which was likely to result in serious harm to himself or others as defined by Mental Hygiene Law § 9.45. The Plaintiff further alleges that Steele had no basis to believe that the Plaintiff suffered from a mental illness for which immediate care and treatment was appropriate and which was likely to result in serious harm to himself or others as defined by Mental Hygiene Law § 9.45.

Nonetheless, on March 21, 2011, Drs. Vertrees and Margulies authorized the involuntary transport of the Plaintiff to the CPEP operated by Stony Brook pursuant to Mental Hygiene Law ยง 9.45. The police then seized the Plaintiff at his home and transferred him to the CPEP department at Stony Brook for psychiatric evaluation. The Plaintiff did not resist and left peacefully with the officers. However, the Plaintiff did not consent to any ...


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