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.

Doe v. Commissioner, New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

May 14, 2019

John Doe[1]
v.
Commissioner, New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, [2]et al.

          ORDER

          Joseph A. DiClerico, Jr. United States District Judge.

         While he was being detained involuntarily at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center following a suicide attempt, John Doe filed suit, seeking a writ of habeas corpus against the Medical Center for his release and declaratory and injunctive relief from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (“NHDHHS”) and the New Hampshire Circuit Court, District Division (“Court”).[3] Three days later, Doe voluntarily dismissed his claim against the Medical Center, Count VI. The Medical Center has moved to dismiss all claims against it. A group of hospitals, including the Medical Center, have moved to intervene in the case.

         Background

         In the complaint, which was filed on November 10, 2018, Doe alleges that he is twenty-six years old and is married with two children. He is the breadwinner for the family. He was admitted to the emergency room at the Medical Center on November 5, 2018, following a suicide attempt. Before he was admitted, Doe explained that he needed help but also needed to work so that being admitted for an extended period would cause financial harm to his family.

         Because hospital staff thought Doe would not agree to being admitted to the hospital for treatment, the Medical Center completed a Petition and Certificate for Involuntary Emergency Admission (“Certificate”) under RSA 135-C:27-33. He was then held at the Medical Center in a room with a TV but no windows. He alleges that he should have had a probable cause hearing by November 8, 2018. No. hearing was held. Instead, the Medical Center simply renewed the Certificate. When the complaint was filed, Doe did not know when he would be released.

         The complaint is brought against the NHDHHS, the Medical Center, and the Court. Doe alleges that “[t]here is a systemic pattern and practice in New Hampshire where people who may be experiencing mental health crises are involuntarily detained in hospital emergency rooms without the State providing them with any due process, appointed counsel, or opportunity to contest their detention.” Complaint, doc. 1, at 2. He states that the involuntary detainer is knowns as “psychiatric boarding.” Id. He further alleges that as of October 31, 2018, there were approximately forty-six adults and four children being involuntarily detained through psychiatric boarding in New Hampshire.

         Patients are detained in this manner while waiting admission to a designated receiving facility under RSA 135-C:27-33. Doe contends that NHDHHS interprets RSA 135-C:31 to require due process only after a patient is admitted to a designated receiving facility. For that reason, patients may be held involuntarily in hospital emergency rooms for as long as three weeks without receiving a due process hearing. Doe contends that NHDHHS is required, both by the constitution and by the applicable statutes, to provide a timely due process hearing to patients who are involuntarily detained.

         Doe clarifies that he is “not asking the Court to remedy the [designated receiving facility] waitlist or address the State's failure to ‘immediately deliver' individuals to [designated receiving facilities] under RSA 135-C:29-a problem that is complex and beyond the scope of this narrow lawsuit.” Id., at 4. Instead, Doe's claims are intended “to require the State to perform its constitutionally-required obligation to provide due process protections to individuals involuntarily detained in emergency rooms.” Id. In a footnote, Doe acknowledges that the due process issue could be resolved with video conferencing that is coordinated with the Circuit Court System. Id., at n.2. Doe states that NHDHHS has a plan to set up video conferences for due process hearings but “hospitals have resisted efforts to provide due process to those they have elected to involuntarily detain.” Id. Doe further explains that the hospitals backed out of a pilot project in 2017 that provided for hearings through a video link and telephone. Id. at 17-18. The hospitals cited their concerns about security, liability, and staffing. Id.

         Doe brings a class action in order to address the systemic problems of emergency mental health care in New Hampshire and to require change rather than achieve individual relief for himself.[4] He brings four claims. Three claims are designated as class action claims, and the fourth seeks a writ of habeas corpus to require NHDHHS and the Medical Center to release him. He does not state the relief he seeks in each count but instead requests relief separately at the end of the complaint.

         In Count I, Doe brings a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against NHDHHS, the Medical Center, and the Circuit Court, District Division alleging that the practice of involuntary detention violates the procedural due process requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment. He seeks a declaratory judgment that the cited practice violates the Fourteenth Amendment and an injunction to stop the practice. Count II claims that the same practice violates the procedural due process requirements of Part I, Article 15, of the New Hampshire Constitution and seeks a declaratory judgment and injunction. In Count III, Doe alleges that the defendants violated RSA 135-C:31, I by failing to provide due process to detained individuals until after they are transferred to a designated receiving facility and seeks a declaratory judgment and an injunction to stop that practice.

         I. Claims Against the Medical Center

         Doe voluntarily dismissed Count IV, which sought a writ of habeas corpus to require NHDHHS and the Medical Center to release him. Doc. 6. The Medical Center then moved to dismiss all claims brought against it. In support, the Medical Center stated that Doe only sought relief against it in Count IV, which was dismissed.

         In response, Doe stated that he “has not brought formal claims in Counts I, II, and III against [the Medical Center}.” Doc. no. 49, at 1. Instead, Doe theorizes that under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19, the Medical Center was included as a party to give “a necessarily interested party a seat at the table so that the Court can judiciously fashion relief.” Id. at 2. Doe states that there are “no formal claims against [the Medical Center] for this Court to dismiss.” Id.

         Doe further states that he assents to dismissing the Medical Center from the suit, “as a Rule 19(a) party, ” with conditions. He asks that dismissal be without prejudice, that the Medical Center be allowed to intervene as a plaintiff, and that the Medical Center agrees that it will be bound ...


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.