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Antwi v. Montefiore Medical Center

United States District Court, S.D. New York

November 18, 2014

BEVERLY DIANE ANTWI, Plaintiff,
v.
MONTEFIORE MEDICAL CENTER, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

EDGARDO RAMOS, District Judge.

This action is one of two, related to substantially similar parties and events, brought in this Court by pro se litigant Beverly Diane Antwi ("Plaintiff"). In an ongoing, earlier-filed action, Plaintiff alleges that Health & Human Services Systems (Centers) F.E.G.S. ("FEGS"), a non-profit health center where she resides and receives care, denied her benefits from government programs, misappropriated federal funds intended for her use, and made reports that resulted in her unlawful hospitalization at Montefiore Medical Center in violation of her human rights and civil liberties. See Antwi v. Health & Human Servs. Sys. (Centers) F.E.G.S., No. 13 Civ. 835 (ER), 2014 WL 4548619, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Sep. 15, 2014) (denying Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment).

In the instant case, Plaintiff alleges that psychiatrists employed by Montefiore Medical Center ("Defendant" or "Montefiore") involuntarily hospitalized her, placed her in a mandatory outpatient treatment program due to a "mix-up of records, " and forcibly medicated her. See Compl., Doc. 2 at 3-5.[1] Liberally construed, the Complaint asserts claims against Montefiore for defamation, gross negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and civil rights violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Id. Defendant now moves to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Def.'s Mot., Doc. 17. For the reasons discussed below, Defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is DENIED. However, Defendant's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim is hereby GRANTED.

I. Background

A. Factual Background

The following facts, accepted as true for purposes of the instant motion, are based on the allegations in the Complaint, Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendant's motion to dismiss, exhibits attached to her Complaint and Opposition, [2] and affidavits submitted by the parties. See Koch v. Christie's Int'l PLC, 699 F.3d 141 (2d Cir. 2012) (evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion); J.S. ex rel. N.S. v. Attica Cent. Sch., 386 F.3d 107, 110 (2d Cir. 2004) (citing Shipping Fin. Servs. Corp. v. Drakos, 140 F.3d 129, 131 (2d Cir. 1998)) (evaluating a Rule 12(b)(1) motion).[3]

Plaintiff is a 40-year-old woman with a history of psychiatric disorders and hospitalizations. Doc. 2-1 at 1. Defendant is a private, not-for-profit hospital corporation organized and established under the laws of the State of New York. Pl.'s Opp'n, Doc. 21 at 30. On multiple occasions, Plaintiff has been hospitalized and treated in the psychiatric unit at Defendant's Montefiore North Medical Center ("Montefiore North"), which provides inpatient and outpatient services. Id.

On July 11, 2012, Plaintiff was involuntarily admitted to the psychiatric unit at Montefiore North pursuant to § 9.39 of the New York Mental Health Law (MHL), which permits short-term confinement on an emergency basis.[4] Doc. 21 at 12, 25. She was "continued on involuntary status" at Montefiore on July 17, 2012, pursuant to MHL § 9.27.[5] Id. at 25. Prior to her July 11 admission, Plaintiff had been hospitalized at Montefiore North on several other occasions: January 1 to January 6, 2011; January 25 to February 21, 2012; and March 16 to March 22, 2012. Doc. 21 at 36. According to Dr. Willy Alexis, whose affirmation Plaintiff includes among her exhibits, "Upon discharge from each of the above hospitalizations, [Plaintiff] was to receive outpatient services from the Montefiore North Clinic, but did not comply, stopped taking her medications, and decompensated as a result of non-compliance with treatment." Id. [6]

Plaintiff was hospitalized for several months following her July 11 admission. During that time, Dr. Alexis, "after consultation with [Plaintiff] and other members of her treatment team, " devised a treatment plan providing for care coordination among an Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Team, supportive housing at FEGS, and a course of many medications. Id. at 37. Dr. Alexis stated that Plaintiff was "in need of Assisted Outpatient Treatment ["AOT"] in order to prevent a relapse or deterioration which would likely result in serious harm to [her] or others..., " and that Plaintiff, to his belief, could not "be safely maintained in any less restrictive placement...." Id.

On October 11, 2012, Defendant submitted an application to the New York State Supreme Court, Bronx County, seeking an AOT program pursuant to MHL § 9.60.[7] Doc. 21 at 26. Also known as "Kendra's Law, " § 9.60 authorizes courts to order that patients "selfadminister psychotropic drugs or accept the administration of such drugs by authorized personnel" and participate in outpatient programs including "case management or case coordination services, medication, substance abuse counseling and testing, and therapy." Coleman v. State Supreme Ct., 697 F.Supp.2d 493, 498-99 (S.D.N.Y. 2010) (quoting MHL § 9.60). Defendant supported its application for an AOT program with Dr. Alexis' affirmation and testimony, describing Plaintiff's history of noncompliance with treatment and episodes in which Plaintiff had become "psychotic, paranoid, agitated, delusional, threatening, loud, belligerent, and hypereligious." Doc. 21 at 36; Doc. 23-1 at 1.[8] A hearing was held before the Honorable Sharon Ann Aarons in the Mental Hygiene Part of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Bronx County, on October 17, 2012, at which Plaintiff was represented by counsel. Doc. 21 at 41-42. Judge Aarons found, by clear and convincing evidence, that Plaintiff met the MHL criteria for AOT, and that AOT was the "least restrictive treatment that [was] appropriate and feasible." Id. She issued a court order for the treatment plan devised by Dr. Alexis. Id.

Although Judge Aarons' order states that she approved Defendant's treatment plan pursuant to MHL § 9.60 based on the evaluations and diagnoses of Dr. Alexis and the staff at Montefiore North, Doc. 21 at 41-44, Plaintiff alleges that her hospitalization and AOT both resulted from Defendant's faulty record-keeping. See, e.g., Doc. 21 at 3 ("Kendra's law criteria wouldn't have been satisfied if my real records were used at the time of trial.") (emphasis in original); Doc. 2 at 3 (claiming that her hospitalization resulted from a "mix-up of records" and "faulty paperwork" claiming that she was "somebody dangerous" or "criminally minded"); id. at 22 (claiming that Montefiore "mixed up" her records "by Hospitalizing 2 other women under [her] name and chart number As [her]"); Doc. 21 at 2-3 (claiming that on January 6, 2011, "Montefiore admitted 3 people under [her] name and information, all at the same time on the same day"). She explains that Defendant's "years of ruined records" amount to "defamation, gross negligence, and psychological abuse." Id. She further states that her hospitalization and court-ordered treatment plan, which includes biweekly injections of what she describes as "horse pill amounts" of anti-psychotic medications, [9] constitute civil rights violations and wrongful punishments. Id.; Doc. 2 at 3. Additionally, Plaintiff asserts that she should not have been subjected to treatment supervised by an ACT Team because she was hospitalized for four months prior to her hearing. Id. at 3.

B. Procedural History

Plaintiff commenced this action on February 6, 2014. Doc. 2. Originally assigned to the Honorable Richard J. Sullivan, the case was transferred to the undersigned on May 21, 2014 based on its relatedness to Plaintiff's earlier-filed suit, Antwi v. FEGS Health and Human Services System. Doc. 11; see also Doc. 21 at 3 ("I sued FEGS my residence for the application of admission and seek to sue Montiefore [sic] for the actual admission (which because it is a form of incarceration) is a civil rights violation.") (emphasis and parentheses in original).

Although the Complaint does not identify specific causes of action, Doc. 2, the Court construes her allegations as asserting substantive and procedural due process claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law claims for gross negligence, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. See, e.g., Doc. 21 at 2-3 (discussing defamation, gross negligence, "psychological abuse, " "civil rights violations, " and her "inability to refuse treatment"). She seeks more than $50 million in damages: $250, 000 for each intra-muscular anti-psychotic injection, $15 million for her involuntary hospitalization from July to October 2012, and $5 million for each hospitalization from 2010 to 2012. Doc. 2 at ...


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