Black v. Department of Mental Health, B132774.

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtGodoy Perez
Citation83 Cal.App.4th 739,100 Cal.Rptr.2d 39
PartiesDouglas BLACK, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH et al., Defendants and Respondents.
Docket NumberNo. B132774.,B132774.
Decision Date11 September 2000
100 Cal.Rptr.2d 39
83 Cal.App.4th 739
Douglas BLACK, Plaintiff and Appellant,
DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH et al., Defendants and Respondents.
No. B132774.
Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 5.
September 11, 2000.
Review Denied January 10, 2001.

[100 Cal.Rptr.2d 41]

[83 Cal.App.4th 742]

Hardiman & Cahill, Newport Beach, and Francis X. Hardiman for Plaintiff and Appellant.

Bill Lockyer, Attorney General, Richard Rojo, Supervising Deputy Attorney General, and Kenneth G. Lake, Deputy Attorney General, for Defendants and Respondents.

[83 Cal.App.4th 743]


Douglas Black, acting as administrator of his deceased brother's estate, appeals from the judgment entered in favor of the State of California after the state's demurrers to the first amended complaint were sustained without leave to amend. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the judgment.


Craig Black (decedent) was a long-term mental patient at the former Camarillo State Hospital (Camarillo). With Camarillo set to close in June 1997, decedent's brother and conservator, Douglas Black (appellant), agreed in February 1997 to have decedent transferred to La Casa Mental Health Center (La Casa), a privately-owned facility operating on the grounds of Metropolitan State Hospital (Metropolitan). On May 26, 1997, decedent died at La Casa. He was 54.

Appellant and his parents, Frank Bush Black and Zetta Frances Black, sued the State of California's Department of Mental Health (the Department) and the Department's director, Stephen Mayberg, along with Camarillo and Metropolitan. They also sued La Casa and its operator, Telecare Corporation (Telecare).1

The operative first amended complaint contained causes of action for wrongful death, violations of the elder abuse and dependent adult protection laws (Welf. & Inst.Code, § 15600 et seq.), medical malpractice, and negligent and intentional misrepresentation. It also included a survivor's action on behalf of decedent's estate (Code Civ. Proc, § 377.32)2 alleging violations of the Unruh Civil Rights Act (Civ.Code, § 51, hereafter the Act). Appellant alleged he was duped into believing his brother had been transferred to Metropolitan,

100 Cal.Rptr.2d 42

not an adjacent private facility where decedent would receive a lower level of care. While at La Casa, decedent was allegedly abused and neglected, and received inadequate medical care. Specifically, decedent was given incorrect dosages of lithium. Because the lithium levels in his blood were not properly monitored, decedent's mental and physical health deteriorated, resulting in his death, the first amended complaint alleged.

83 Cal.App.4th 744

After incorporating all previous allegations, the Act cause of action alleged that the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., hereafter the ADA) was incorporated into the Act. A federal regulation implementing Title II of the ADA, 28 Code of Federal Regulations section 35.130(d), made it unlawful to discriminate against mentally disabled persons such as decedent by failing to place them in the most integrated setting possible, consistent with their condition and treatment needs. Appellant alleged the State violated this regulation by inappropriately placing decedent at La Casa.

La Casa and the State brought separate demurrers to the first amended complaint. At the February 19, 1999, hearing La Casa's demurrers were sustained with leave to amend. The State's demurrers were sustained without leave to amend. A judgment for the State was entered March 12, 1999.3 At issue on appeal is the demurrer to the Act claim, which was sustained on the ground the State was not a business establishment, as required by Civil Code section 51.4

83 Cal.App.4th 745

In reviewing a judgment of dismissal after a demurrer is sustained without leave to amend, we must assume the truth of all facts properly pleaded by the plaintiff-appellant. Regardless of the label attached to the cause of action, we must examine the complaint's factual allegations to determine whether they state a cause of

100 Cal.Rptr.2d 43

action on any available legal theory. Reversible error is committed if the facts alleged show entitlement to relief under any possible legal theory. (Cochran v. Cochran (1997) 56 Cal.App.4th 1115, 1119-1120, 66 Cal.Rptr.2d 337.) The plaintiff-appellant bears the burden of showing how the complaint might be amended to state a viable cause of action. (Hendy v. Losse (1991) 54 Cal.3d 723, 742, 1 Cal.Rptr.2d 543, 819 P.2d 1.) We will affirm an order sustaining a demurrer which is correct on any applicable theory. (Kennedy v. Baxter Healthcare Corp. (1996) 43 Cal.App.4th 799, 808, 50 Cal.Rptr.2d 736.)

We will not, however, assume the truth of contentions, deductions, or conclusions of fact or law, and may disregard allegations that are contrary to the law or to a fact which may be judicially noticed. When a ground for objection to a complaint, such as the statute of limitations, appears on its face or from matters of which the court may or must take judicial notice, a demurrer on that ground is proper. (Code Civ. Proc, § 430.30, subd. (a); Cochran v. Cochran, supra, 56 Cal.App.4th at p. 1120, 66 Cal.Rptr.2d 337.) We may take judicial notice of the records of a California court. (Evid.Code, § 452, subd. (d).) We must take judicial notice of the decisional and statutory law of California and the United States. (Evid.Code, § 451, subd. (a).)


The Act provides, in general terms, that all persons are entitled to free and equal accommodations, privileges, facilities and services in all business establishments. (Civ.Code, § 51.) It secures equal access to public accommodations and prohibits discrimination by business establishments. (Harris v. Capital Growth Investors XIV (1991) 52 Cal.3d 1142, 1150, 278 Cal.Rptr. 614, 805 P.2d 873.) In 1992, the Legislature amended the Act to state that a violation of a person's rights under the ADA was also a violation of the Act. (See Historical and Statutory Notes, 6 West's Ann. Civ.Code, § 51 (2000 pocket supp.) p. 86.)5

Congress authorized the United States Attorney General to draft regulations implementing the provisions of the ADA. Those regulations must be given both

83 Cal.App.4th 746

legislative and controlling weight unless they are arbitrary, capricious, or clearly contrary to the statute. (Does 1-5 v. Chandler (9th Cir.1996) 83 F.3d 1150, 1153.) One such regulation is 28 Code of Federal Regulations section 35.130(d), the so-called integration regulation or integration mandate.6 (Olmstead v. Zimring (1999) 527 U.S. 581, 592, 119 S.Ct. 2176, 2183, 144 L.Ed.2d 540, hereafter Olmstead.) Section 35.130(d) states: "A public entity shall administer services, programs, and activities in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities." Appellant contends decedent's transfer from Camarillo to La Casa violated this regulation.

The first amended complaint alleged that appellant believed decedent was being transferred from Camarillo to Metropolitan. Decedent was instead transferred to La Casa, which was "possibly a separate and private entity" providing "a lower level of care and monitoring." Elsewhere in the first amended complaint, appellant describes La Casa as a "home/Mental Health Center." Appellant also alleged that the State acted negligently in decedent's transfer process and breached its duty to "properly evaluate decedent for community placement ..." The first amended complaint is silent as to any improper motivation or discriminatory effect from the transfer decision and simply

100 Cal.Rptr.2d 44

concludes that the transfer violated the integration mandate.

Camarillo was a state hospital for the developmentally, disabled (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 4440) whose primary purpose was to care for such persons. (Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 4484, 7503, 7506.) Metropolitan is a state hospital for the mentally disordered (Welf. & Inst.Code, § 7200) whose primary purpose is the care of such persons. (Welf. & Inst.Code, § 4304.) We judicially notice these matters. (Evid. Code, § 451, subd. (a).)

Appellant's supplemental brief describes the "essence" of his integration mandate claim as the "transfer[ ] from a State Hospital to a community institutional facility." This occurred without appellant's consent. It was not based on decedent's medical needs but instead occurred "because of the need to find an alternative location to place the decedent because of the Legislature's closing of Camarillo. In other words decedent was placed into La Casa because of what was available rather than what was needed by the disabled person. [¶] [Appellant] is alleging that the integration mandate was violated [because decedent] was transferred to a setting that was less integrated because La Casa was not a facility that could meet [decedent's] treatment

83 Cal.App.4th 747

needs." We treat these statements as judicial admissions. (DeRose v. Carswell (1987) 196 Cal.App.3d 1011, 1019, 242 Cal.Rptr. 368.) 7 We also assume appellant would amend his complaint to include those allegations.

Distilled to its essence, appellant's Act claim rises or falls on the contention that decedent should have been transferred from one state mental hospital to another, not to a private community care facility that was inadequate to handle decedent's treatment needs. This transfer occurred because Camarillo was closing. The State did not evaluate decedent to determine whether such a transfer was medically appropriate, but instead made its transfer decision based on what was available. This conduct violated section 35.130(d), according to appellant.

In requesting supplemental briefing, we asked the parties to discuss whether these allegations showed either a violation of the integration mandate (§ 35.130(d)) or that decedent had been the victim of discrimination "by reason of [his]...

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  • Black v. Dept. of Mental Health
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • September 11, 2000
    ... 100 Cal.Rptr.2d 39 (Cal.App. 2 Dist. DOUGLAS BLACK, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH et al., Defendants and Respondents. B132774 IN THE COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, SECOND APPELLATE DISTRICT, DIVISION FIVE Filed 9/11/00 APPEAL from a judgment of the Su......

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