Bolmer v. Oliveira

Decision Date05 August 2008
Docket NumberNo. 06-cv-235 (JBA).,06-cv-235 (JBA).
Citation570 F.Supp.2d 301
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Connecticut
PartiesBrett BOLMER, Plaintiff, v. Joseph OLIVEIRA, Diane DeKeyser, Victor Estaba, Donna Pellerin, Conn. Dep't of Mental Health and Addiction Servs., and Danbury Hospital, Defendants.

Karyl Lee Hall, Thomas A. Behrendt, Connecticut Legal Rights Project, Inc., Middletown, CT, Nancy B. Alisberg, State of Connecticut Office of Prot. & Adv. for Handicapped, Hartford, CT, William M. Brooks, Mental Disability Law, Clinic of Touro Law Center, Huntington, NY, for Plaintiff.

Emily V. Melendez, Attorney General's Office, Michael R. McPherson, Danaher Lagnese & Neal, P.C., Frank H. Santoro, Joyce A. Lagnese, Michael R. McPherson, Jason Kirk Henderson, Danaher Lagnese & Neal, P.C., Hartford, CT, for Defendants.



Plaintiff Brett Bolmer commenced this action in 2006, challenging his temporary involuntary commitment, physical restraint, and involuntary injection with medication at Danbury Hospital in 2004. Mr. Bolmer has asserted a variety of Constitutional, statutory, and common law tort claims against the defendants, who now move for summary judgment on all claims. For the reasons set forth below, the State defendants' motion for summary judgment will be denied, and the Danbury Hospital defendants' motion for summary judgment will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. Facts and Background

Mental health services in the Danbury, Connecticut area

Both the State of Connecticut and private organizations have historically provided care for the mentally ill, and, prior to the 1980's, the State operated a number of mental health hospitals for the benefit of the public. Beginning in the 1980's, however, the State of Connecticut began moving towards a model of psychiatric care which sought to integrate individuals suffering from psychiatric disorders into their local communities, rather than restricting such individuals to lives of confinement in public psychiatric hospitals. As part of this shift in care, the State closed a number of its psychiatric hospitals and began providing outpatient services in Connecticut towns and cities aimed at providing individuals with psychiatric disabilities with ongoing support and treatment. In approximately 1995, the State closed the Fairfield Hills Hospital located in Newtown, just outside of Danbury, and began providing outpatient services through the Greater Danbury Mental Health Authority ("GDMHA"), which is a local agency of the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services ("DMHAS").

In addition to providing outpatient services, DMHAS made arrangements to care for DMHAS patients ("clients," in the parties' parlance) in need of emergency psychiatric care. To this end, DMHAS contracts with private hospitals around Connecticut to evaluate and care for DMHAS clients. In the Danbury area, such emergency services are provided under contract by Danbury Hospital, a privately owned and operated institution which has an acute psychiatric inpatient unit in which it treats both privately insured patients and DMHAS clients. In response to concerns about private hospitals being financially overburdened by the costs of treatment services for DMHAS clients, the State provides some private hospitals, including Danbury Hospital, with grants to offset these costs.

The parties are in agreement that Danbury Hospital chose to contract with DMHAS to provide inpatient services, and that the Hospital runs its psychiatric care program "without any state mandate or involvement."1 Although DMHAS periodically assesses the mental health services provided by contracting private organizations and provides for quality assurance measures in its contract with Danbury Hospital, DMHAS's oversight is aimed "at quality assurance and not the direct operations or provision of treatment" at private facilities.2 Under the contract between DMHAS and Danbury Hospital, the latter is neither required to set aside beds in its psychiatric unit for DMHAS clients, nor obligated to treat DMHAS clients.

The Events of September 13-16, 2004

During the relevant time period, Mr. Bolmer was a resident of Danbury who suffered from a psychiatric disability and who lived in the GDMHA's Transitional Housing Program (THP), which provides temporary housing for GDMHA clients. As part of the program, Mr. Bolmer was assigned a case manager, Lisa Kaminski, whose duties included assisting in the plaintiffs treatment.3 Kaminski and Bolmer had known each other prior to meeting at THP, as they had both grown up in Newtown, Connecticut in the late 1970s, and periodically socialized following their graduation from high school.

Following Kaminski's assignment as Bolmer's case manager in 2003, the two began frequently speaking on the telephone for extended periods of time, and exchanged a large number of text messages. Mr. Bolmer alleges that the relationship between him and Kaminski became sexual around February 2004,4 and that the two would meet at Ms. Kaminski's apartment in Naugatuck, Connecticut once or twice a week. Mr. Bolmer alleges that he gave Ms. Kaminski flowers "all the time," as he did on September 13, 2004, when he placed roses underneath a windshield wiper of Ms. Kaminski's car outside of her apartment.5 According to Mr. Bolmer, the pair's relationship ended around that same day, when Ms. Kaminski told him that she was in another relationship.

Ms. Kaminski denies the existence of a sexual relationship between the two and was alarmed, as she reported to her supervisor, Rick Hammond. She expressed her alarm that Mr. Bolmer had come "uninvited from Danbury, all the way to Naugatuck, to my apartment, and left flowers on my car."6 The next day, September 14, 2004, Kaminski informed Hammond and Wilma Davidson, Bolmer's probation officer, that she had received two threatening voicemail messages from Bolmer, the second of which was laced with profanity.7

Mr. Bolmer was summoned to the THP office on September 14, 2004, where he met with Mr. Hammond. During that meeting, Bolmer described the extent of the contact between him and Kaminski, alleging that the pair had a sexual relationship, and asking to be moved to different housing where he would not come into contact with Kaminski. Bolmer proceeded from the meeting with Hammond to the offices of the GDMHA, where he met with Michael Anello, a caseworker, and later, with Dr. Joseph Oliveira, a psychiatrist.

Mr. Bolmer contends that the GDMHA staff discredited his story about his sexual relationship with Ms. Kaminski, believing it to be the product of a delusion, and set in motion a series of events in which Mr. Bolmer was involuntarily committed, restrained, and medicated solely on the basis that no one believed his account of the relationship with Kaminski. According to Mr. Bolmer, Dr. Oliveira summoned police and an ambulance crew before speaking with the plaintiff, "rolled his eyes" when Mr. Bolmer explained that he had been sleeping with Ms. Kaminski,8 and made the decision to involuntarily commit him following a cursory examination:

Yeah, well, he just said we're going to give you a mini mental test, motor, tree, giraffe, and I'm going to ask you to recall these things after a few minutes. And it wasn't that many minutes, and he said to me say it again, and I came up with the two and I said why are you asking me these questions? And he just walked over to the door and it opened up and everyone came rushing in.9

Mr. Bolmer was transported by ambulance to Danbury Hospital, where he was first examined by Dr. Victor Estaba, an emergency room physician, and Dr. Diane DeKeyser, a psychiatrist.

According to Mr. Bolmer, DeKeyser did not ask him any questions, but informed him that he was confined at the Hospital pursuant to the emergency certificate which Dr. Oliveira signed.10 Mr. Bolmer alleges that DeKeyser spent fewer than five minutes examining him, but that in that time he told her that Dr. Oliveira had been incorrect in his assessment of Mr. Bolmer's mental state.11 Mr. Bolmer alleges that he next fell asleep for a time, until Dr. Estaba examined him. Although Mr. Bolmer is unable to recall the questions which Estaba asked him, Bolmer told Estaba that he was in the hospital "for saying I was sleeping with Lisa."12 According to Bolmer, Dr. Estaba then ordered him to take an oral dose of Geodon, an anti-psychotic medication. Mr. Bolmer refused, Dr. Estaba left, and the plaintiff fell back asleep. When Estaba returned, Mr. Bolmer alleges that he was forcefully and painfully restrained by the hospital's security staff while a nurse injected him with Geodon.13

Mr. Bolmer was then admitted to the hospital and placed in a bed on the hospital's psychiatric wing. He remembers little about what transpired after being forcibly administered the Geodon, but avers that the only person to take seriously his story about his relationship seriously was Kieran Delamere, a case manager at the hospital. Mr. Bolmer asserts that once Mr. Delamere heard the plaintiffs account on September 16, 2004, he checked Mr. Bolmer's cell phone, read some of the text messages from Ms. Kaminski, and had Mr. Bolmer discharged immediately.

The defendants' version of events differs markedly. According to the defendants, when Mr. Bolmer met with GDMHA staff member Michael Anello on September 14, 2004 and recounted his relationship with Kaminski, Anello deemed a psychiatric examination of Mr. Bolmer appropriate, because elements of Bolmer's account sounded delusional, for example, Bolmer's representation that he and Kaminski had been in a relationship for a year although Bolmer had spent five or six months of the prior year at Connecticut Valley Hospital,14 where he had been sent in February...

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