40 N.E.3d 507 (Ind.App. 2015), 49A05-1411-MH-529, T.D. v. Eskenazi Health Midtown Cmty. Mental Health Ctr.

Docket Nº49A05-1411-MH-529
Citation40 N.E.3d 507
Opinion JudgePyle, Judge.
Party NameIn the Matter of the Civil Commitment of T.D., Appellant-Respondent, v. Eskenazi Health Midtown Community Mental Health Center, Appellee-Petitioner
AttorneyATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: Deborah Markisohn, Indianapolis, Indiana. ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: Rene Wyatt-Foston, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Judge PanelCrone, J., and Brown, J., concur.
Case DateJuly 20, 2015
CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana

Page 507

40 N.E.3d 507 (Ind.App. 2015)

In the Matter of the Civil Commitment of T.D., Appellant-Respondent,


Eskenazi Health Midtown Community Mental Health Center, Appellee-Petitioner

No. 49A05-1411-MH-529

Court of Appeals of Indiana

July 20, 2015

Appeal from the Marion Superior Court. Lower Court Cause No. 49D08-1308-MH-16567. The Honorable Mark Batties, Commissioner.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: Deborah Markisohn, Indianapolis, Indiana.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: Rene Wyatt-Foston, Indianapolis, Indiana.


Page 508

Pyle, Judge.

Statement of the Case

[¶1] Appellant-Respondent, T.D., appeals the trial court's order granting Appellee-Petitioner, Eskenazi Health Midtown Community Mental Health Center's (" the Hospital" ), application for the emergency detention and involuntary civil commitment of T.D. based on her mental illness. She argues that the trial court erred in ordering her regular commitment because there was insufficient evidence that she was " gravely disabled," as the Hospital was required by statute to prove. The only evidence in the record supporting her commitment was one isolated incident of unusual behavior, the fact that T.D. lived in a hotel, her psychiatrist's recommendation, and her refusal to seek treatment. Because this did not constitute clear and convincing evidence to support her involuntary commitment, we reverse the trial court's decision and remand for the trial court to vacate the commitment.

We reverse and remand.


Whether the trial court erred when it ordered T.D.'s regular commitment.1


[¶2] T.D. is a fifty-one year old woman who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has a history of psychiatric illness and treatment. Beginning on July 31, 2013, she was on a regular commitment

Page 509

with the Hospital. She was doing well in treatment and resided at First Home, one of the Hospital's residential housing programs. However, on July 22, 2014, the Hospital filed a notice with the trial court seeking to terminate T.D.'s civil commitment because she had elected to receive voluntary treatment. On September 4, 2014, the trial court entered an order terminating T.D.'s commitment.

[¶3] When T.D.'s commitment ended, she was no longer able to live in the First Home residential program and went to live in a shelter and then in a hotel. During this time, T.D. became inconsistent in taking her medication and, according to her treating physician at the Hospital, Dr. Michael DeMotte (" Dr. DeMotte" ), " her symptoms [] continued to worsen." (Tr. 8). One night at the hotel, she was preparing a presentation for a large event in town, and she flooded her hotel room with water and steam, intending to set off the fire alarms so that the fire department would come to the hotel and help her prepare for the event.

[¶4] Based on this incident, the Hospital filed an application for emergency detention of T.D. on October 14, 2014. Dr. DeMotte filed a report on the application on October 16, 2014, and recommended that T.D. be placed on a regular commitment under Indiana Code § 12-26-7 because she was in need of " custody, care, or treatment in an appropriate facility." (Tr. 52). He also reported that T.D. had refused to continue voluntary treatment. The next day, the trial court set an evidentiary hearing on the matter for October 20, 2014, and ordered that T.D. be detained pending the hearing.

[¶5] Dr. DeMotte testified at the hearing as a psychiatric expert. He stated that T.D. was a " very pleasant woman" and that he did not believe she was a danger to herself or others. (Tr. 9). However, he also testified that:

[she] does experience symptoms consistent with mania, including a euphoric mood. She gets very excited with things; very grandiose in her plans, large scope projects outside of a scope of reality. [She] [i]s very distractible in this and her thought process and decision[-]making frequently kind of get[s] side-tracked from what she's working on--rapid speech, racing thoughts, some impulsivity. All kind of symptoms together in combination consistent with a manic episode.

(Tr. 10). He explained that while medication did not cure all of T.D.'s symptoms, she had been doing substantially better while on treatment and her ability to function had improved. He expressed concerns that since her previous commitment had been terminated " there ha[d] been more inconsistency with medications[.]" (Tr. 8). He said that the last time he had talked to T.D., she had told him that " she no longer wished for voluntary treatment." (Tr. 11). Instead, " [s]he felt like she was ready to be discharged from the hospital and was no longer going to be taking medications unless there was a subsequent court order for it." (Tr. 11).

[¶6] Later in his testimony, Dr. DeMotte also expressed concerns that T.D. had not " been able to maintain housing" without treatment, whereas she had been able to maintain it while she was in treatment. (Tr. 11). He said that he thought her symptoms " impair[ed] her judgment" and reasoning such that " [w]e get into circumstances such as those when she was brought to the hospital [from] the hotel." (Tr. 11). Based on these concerns, he recommended a regular commitment and said that he believed a regular commitment transitioning to outpatient care was the least restrictive option for T.D.

Page 510

[¶7] At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court found that T.D. was " gravely disabled," as required by statute, and granted the petition for her regular commitment. The court also ordered that T.D. take all medications as prescribed, attend all clinic sessions as scheduled, and maintain her address and phone number with the court. T.D. now appeals.


[¶8] On appeal, T.D. argues that the trial court erred in ordering her commitment because there was not sufficient evidence to prove that she was " gravely disabled" as required by statute. See Ind. Code § 12-7-2-96. We have previously noted that civil commitment is a significant deprivation of liberty that requires due process protections. Commitment of L.W. v. Midtown Cmty. Health Ctr., 823 N.E.2d 702, 703 (Ind.Ct.App. 2005). The liberty interest at stake in a civil commitment proceeding goes beyond a loss of one's physical freedom and, given the serious stigma and adverse social consequences that accompany such physical confinement, a proceeding for an involuntary civil commitment is subject to due process requirements. Civil Commitment of T.K., 27 N.E.3d at 273.

[¶9] To satisfy the requirements of due process, the facts justifying an involuntary commitment must be...

To continue reading

Request your trial