Bolmer v. Oliveira, Docket No. 08-4113-cv.

CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
Writing for the CourtMcLaughlin
Citation594 F.3d 134
PartiesBrett BOLMER, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Joseph OLIVEIRA, M.D., Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Defendants-Appellants, Malena Sangut, Diane Dekeyser, M.D., Victoria Estaba, M.D., Donna Pellerin, M.D., Danbury Hospital, Defendants.<SMALL><SUP>*</SUP></SMALL>
Decision Date08 February 2010
Docket NumberDocket No. 08-4113-cv.
594 F.3d 134
Brett BOLMER, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Joseph OLIVEIRA, M.D., Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Defendants-Appellants,
Malena Sangut, Diane Dekeyser, M.D., Victoria Estaba, M.D., Donna Pellerin, M.D., Danbury Hospital, Defendants.*
Docket No. 08-4113-cv.
United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.
Argued: November 13, 2009.
Decided: February 8, 2010.

[594 F.3d 136]

Emily V. Melendez, Assistant Attorney General, for Richard Blumenthal, Attorney General of the State of Connecticut, Office of the Attorney General, Hartford, CT, for Defendants-Appellants.

William Brooks, Touro Law Center, Central Islip, NY, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Nancy B. Alisberg, Office of Protection & Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities, Hartford, CT, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Susan J. Kohlmann, Jenner & Block LLP (Danielle F. Tarantolo, on the brief), New York, NY, for Amici Curiae National Disability Rights Network, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, and Vermont Protection & Advocacy, Inc., in support of Plaintiff-Appellee.

Before: McLAUGHLIN and WESLEY, Circuit Judges, and KAHN, District Judge.**

McLAUGHLIN, Circuit Judge:


This case arises from the involuntary commitment of Brett Bolmer. He sued various individuals and entities involved in his commitment in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut (Arterton, J.). As relevant to this appeal, Bolmer claimed that Dr. Joseph Oliveira violated his Fourth Amendment and substantive due process rights enforceable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and falsely imprisoned him in violation of Connecticut law, when he ordered Bolmer committed. Bolmer also alleged that the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services ("DMHAS") violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131 et seq., by "stereotyping Mr. Bolmer as an unreliable individual who manifested delusions because of his diagnosed mental illness."

Oliveira and DMHAS moved for summary judgment on the grounds that (1) Oliveira, as a state officer, has qualified immunity to Bolmer's § 1983 claims and

594 F.3d 137

has sovereign immunity to the false imprisonment claim; and (2) DMHAS is immune to the Title II claim under the Eleventh Amendment. The district court granted summary judgment on Oliveira's defense of sovereign immunity to Bolmer's false imprisonment claim, but denied summary judgment on the qualified immunity and Eleventh Amendment immunity defenses.

On interlocutory appeal, Defendants-Appellants raise several arguments we have no jurisdiction to review under the collateral order doctrine, and we dismiss the appeal as to these arguments. However, their central thrust raises reviewable challenges to the legal standards the district court employed in denying them summary judgment on their qualified immunity and Eleventh Amendment immunity defenses.

First, Oliveira argues that the medical-standards test set forth in Rodriguez v. City of New York, 72 F.3d 1051 (2d Cir. 1995) for determining whether an involuntary commitment violates substantive due process is inconsistent with County of Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U.S. 833, 118 S.Ct. 1708, 140 L.Ed.2d 1043 (1998). He contends that it imposes liability for conduct that does not "shock the conscience." We disagree, and hold that Rodriguez is consistent with Lewis.

Second, DMHAS believes that, under Garcia v. S.U.N.Y. Health Sciences Center of Brooklyn, 280 F.3d 98 (2d Cir.2001), the district court should have required a showing that it acted with discriminatory animus or ill will before denying it summary judgment on its Eleventh Amendment immunity defense to Bolmer's Title II claim. Absent such a showing, DMHAS argues, Congress's abrogation of DMHAS's immunity is invalid. Because Garcia was based on Congress's enforcement of the Equal Protection Clause, we hold that it is not applicable when Congress's abrogation is supported by its enforcement of the substantive due process right not to be involuntarily committed absent a danger to self or others.

Because we cannot conclude as a matter of law that Defendants-Appellants are entitled to qualified immunity or Eleventh Amendment immunity, we affirm the denial of summary judgment on these defenses.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff-Appellee Brett Bolmer has a history of mental illness. In 2003, the Greater Danbury Mental Health Authority ("GDMHA") began providing housing to Bolmer through its Transitional Housing Program (the "Program"). GDMHA is a local agency of DMHAS that provides out-patient services to patients in its care. As part of the Program, Bolmer was assigned a case manager, Lisa Kaminski. Bolmer and Kaminski had known one another before, having grown up in the same town. Upon Kaminski's appointment, the two began communicating frequently through text messages and phone calls.

According to Bolmer, he began a sexual relationship with Kaminski in February 2004. He claims that they would meet once or twice per week at Kaminski's apartment.

On September 13, 2004, Bolmer placed roses on Kaminski's car. He asserts that when he saw Kaminski later that day, she told him that their relationship was over.

The next day, Bolmer told the director of the Program, Rick Hammond, that he had been involved in a sexual relationship with Kaminski. He also told a GDMHA caseworker, Mike Anello. Around the same time, Kaminski notified Hammond that Bolmer had left flowers on her car and had called her twice. GDMHA staff

594 F.3d 138

questioned whether Bolmer was manifesting "erotomania," a psychiatric syndrome characterized by a false belief that there exists a romantic relationship with another person. No one believed in the alleged sexual relationship with Kaminski. A GDMHA caseworker, Joe Halpin, informed Bolmer's probation officer of the situation. The officer called Bolmer and told him to return to the GDMHA facility. Bolmer complied.

The facts surrounding Bolmer's return to GDMHA are controversial. According to Bolmer, he was annoyed when he had to return, so he was speaking loudly to the staff, but was not yelling. Dr. Joseph Oliveira, a GDMHA psychiatrist whom Bolmer had never met, entered the room and, without introducing himself, told Bolmer that he was there to conduct a "mini mental health exam." Oliveira asked Bolmer to repeat three words: "motor, tree, giraffe," but "barely" asked him any questions. At this point Bolmer realized that Oliveira was considering whether to have him committed. Bolmer tried to explain his feelings about his breakup with Kaminski to those in the room—Oliveira, Halpin, and Anello—but they "kept looking at [him] as if [he] was crazy to be thinking that a case worker could possibly have an affair with a crazy person." Oliveira "rolled his eyes" at Bolmer.

Frustrated that no one believed him, Bolmer began talking about other injustices he had suffered. After someone told him to calm down, Bolmer attempted to convey that he was not angry. He stated that "if [he] was really angry that [he] would pick up the chair in the room and throw it." Oliveira then opened the door and police and ambulance workers "came rushing in." Bolmer claims that the examination lasted "no more than five minutes."

According to DMHAS and Oliveira, when Bolmer returned to the GDMHA facility he was yelling loudly enough for Oliveira to hear him in the next room. Out of concern for everyone's safety, Oliveira had a staff member call the police. During the evaluation, Bolmer exhibited increasing anger and hostility, stating that if he were angry, he "would pick up the fan in the room and throw it and go over and kick Joe Halpin in the head." At this point, Oliveira determined that the examination could not continue safely. According to Oliveira and GDMHA staff, the examination lasted at least 15 minutes.

The parties do not dispute that, at the conclusion of the examination, Oliveira executed a Physician's Emergency Certificate ordering Bolmer involuntarily committed "for no more than 15 days care and treatment in a mental hospital." Oliveira noted on the Certificate that Bolmer was having erotomanic delusions about Kaminski, and appeared angry and hostile. He concluded, "Patient at this time, in my clinical opinion, is dangerous and poses a threat to others."

The ambulance workers transported Bolmer to Danbury Hospital, a private institution providing in-patient psychiatric care to GDMHA clients under a contract with the state. At the hospital, staff strapped Bolmer to his bed and injected him with Geodon, an anti-psychotic medication. After a staff member discovered that Bolmer's cell phone contained numerous text messages between him and Kaminski, the hospital discharged Bolmer two days later.

Phone records later revealed that Bolmer and Kaminski had a history of communicating frequently, and that the communications were initiated by both parties. Kaminski conceded that she used poor judgment in her extensive communications with Bolmer, but denied any sexual relationship.

594 F.3d 139

In October 2004, DMHAS fired Kaminski for violating DMHAS Work Rule Number 18: "The development of sexual or otherwise exploitive relationships between employees and clients is prohibited."

In February 2006, Bolmer sued Oliveira, DMHAS, and certain others involved in his involuntary commitment. Bolmer claimed (1) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, that Oliveira violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments by ordering him committed; (2) that Oliveira falsely imprisoned him in violation of Connecticut law; and (3) that DMHAS violated Title II of the ADA by "stereotyping Mr. Bolmer as an unreliable individual who manifested delusions because of his diagnosed mental illness."

In January 2008, Oliveira and DMHAS (together, the "State Defendants") moved for summary judgment. The State Defendants and Bolmer both submitted expert affidavits on the issue of whether Oliveira's examination was consistent with generally accepted medical standards....

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156 practice notes
  • Frank v. Sachem Sch. Dist., No. 14–cv–67 ADSARL.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • February 5, 2015
    ...of his or her disability.”Disability Advocates, Inc. v. Paterson, 653 F.Supp.2d 184, 190 (E.D.N.Y.2009) ; see also Bolmer v. Oliveira, 594 F.3d 134, 148 (2d Cir.2010) (“To establish a violation of Title II, [the plaintiff] must show that (1) he is a ‘qualified individual with a disability,’......
  • Taravella v. Town Of Wolcott, Docket No. 08-2529-cv.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • March 16, 2010
    ...Pearson was also cited in Redd v. Wright, No. 06-4315-pr, 597 F.3d 532, 2010 WL 774304, at *2-4 (2d Cir. Mar.9, 2010); Bolmer v. Oliveira, 594 F.3d 134, 141-42 (2d Cir.2010); Turkmen v. Ashcroft, 589 F.3d 542, 550 (2d Cir.2009) (per curiam); Dean v. Blumenthal, 577 F.3d 60, 66-68 (2d Cir.20......
  • Widomski v. State Univ. of N.Y. (Suny) at Orange, Case No. 09–CV–7517 (KMK).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • March 20, 2013
    ...use similar “because” language in the relevant provisions, it is not clear whether this framework survives Gross, see Bolmer v. Oliveira, 594 F.3d 134, 148 (2d Cir.2010) (noting that “it is questionable whether Title II discrimination claims can proceed on a mixed-motive theory after the Su......
  • Myers v. The Hertz Corp., Docket No. 08-1037-cv.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • October 27, 2010
    ...jurisdiction, or where review of such rulings is “necessary to ensure meaningful review” of the appealable order. Bolmer v. Oliveira, 594 F.3d 134, 141 (2d Cir.2010) (internal quotation marks omitted). This two-part standard derives from the Supreme Court's decision in Swint v. Chambers Cou......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
156 cases
  • Frank v. Sachem Sch. Dist., No. 14–cv–67 ADSARL.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • February 5, 2015
    ...of his or her disability.”Disability Advocates, Inc. v. Paterson, 653 F.Supp.2d 184, 190 (E.D.N.Y.2009) ; see also Bolmer v. Oliveira, 594 F.3d 134, 148 (2d Cir.2010) (“To establish a violation of Title II, [the plaintiff] must show that (1) he is a ‘qualified individual with a disability,’......
  • Taravella v. Town Of Wolcott, Docket No. 08-2529-cv.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • March 16, 2010
    ...Pearson was also cited in Redd v. Wright, No. 06-4315-pr, 597 F.3d 532, 2010 WL 774304, at *2-4 (2d Cir. Mar.9, 2010); Bolmer v. Oliveira, 594 F.3d 134, 141-42 (2d Cir.2010); Turkmen v. Ashcroft, 589 F.3d 542, 550 (2d Cir.2009) (per curiam); Dean v. Blumenthal, 577 F.3d 60, 66-68 (2d Cir.20......
  • Widomski v. State Univ. of N.Y. (Suny) at Orange, Case No. 09–CV–7517 (KMK).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • March 20, 2013
    ...use similar “because” language in the relevant provisions, it is not clear whether this framework survives Gross, see Bolmer v. Oliveira, 594 F.3d 134, 148 (2d Cir.2010) (noting that “it is questionable whether Title II discrimination claims can proceed on a mixed-motive theory after the Su......
  • Myers v. The Hertz Corp., Docket No. 08-1037-cv.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • October 27, 2010
    ...jurisdiction, or where review of such rulings is “necessary to ensure meaningful review” of the appealable order. Bolmer v. Oliveira, 594 F.3d 134, 141 (2d Cir.2010) (internal quotation marks omitted). This two-part standard derives from the Supreme Court's decision in Swint v. Chambers Cou......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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