Demarco v. Sadiker, 93-CV-5938 (ARR).

Citation897 F. Supp. 693
Decision Date22 May 1995
Docket NumberNo. 93-CV-5938 (ARR).,93-CV-5938 (ARR).
PartiesBrian DEMARCO, Plaintiff, v. S. SADIKER, M.D., personally, Edgar Paizin, M.D., personally, S. Singh Ohson, M.D., personally, John P. Iafrate, M.D., in his official capacity as Executive Director of Pilgrim Psychiatric Center, Defendants.
CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)


William M. Brooks, William P. Coyle, Mental Disability Law Clinic, Huntington, NY, for plaintiff.

Dennis C. Vacco, Attorney General, State of New York (Patricia Hingerton, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel), Hauppauge, NY, for defendants Paiz, Ohson and Iafrate.

Owen B. Walsh, Nassau County Attorney (William Riccio, Deputy County Attorney, of counsel), Mineola, NY, for defendant Sadiker.


ROSS, District Judge.


This case involves a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law claims of false imprisonment stemming from plaintiff's involuntary confinement for twenty-one days as a patient at the Pilgrim Psychiatric Center. As the constitutional claims underlying the civil rights action, plaintiff alleges a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment right to substantive due process, claiming that he was involuntarily confined to a psychiatric hospital although he was not dangerous. Plaintiff further alleges a violation of his right to procedural due process, claiming that defendants failed to comply with the provisions of N.Y. Mental Hygiene Law § 9.37, which allows for involuntary confinement by a director of community services or his designee.1 More specifically, plaintiff alleges that physician defendants Sadiker, Ohson and Paiz2 authorized his involuntary hospitalization although he did not pose a danger to himself or others as a result of mental illness, First Amended Complaint, ¶ 29; and that defendants Sadiker and Paiz failed to make the necessary determination under § 9.37 that plaintiff posed a substantial risk of physical harm to himself or others by displaying suicidal, homicidal, or other violent tendencies. Id., ¶ 32.3

Defendants move to dismiss the First Amended Complaint in its entirety pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, for summary judgment pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 56, on three grounds: (1) failure to state a colorable constitutional claim; (2) qualified immunity; and (3) failure to state a claim for false imprisonment. The court heard oral argument from the parties on March 27, 1995, and received post-argument briefs by April 17, 1995. Based upon these arguments and a thorough review of the record, and for the reasons explained below, the motion for summary judgment4 is granted with respect to defendants Sadiker, Ohson, and Iafrate, and denied at this time with respect to defendant Paiz, pending limited discovery.


Plaintiff, a California resident, arrived in New York on December 20, 1992, to visit friends and relatives. Demarco Affid., ¶ 3; Def.'s Mem. of Law, at 4. In the first ten days of his stay, plaintiff voluntarily sought assistance at the emergency room of the Nassau County Medical Center (hereinafter "NCMC") on three occasions. Although the parties dispute the reasons for these visits, plaintiff acknowledges that on one occasion he complained that he had been intentionally fed an undercooked piece of chicken by his father's girlfriend. Demarco Affid., ¶¶ 7, 19; Def.'s Mem. of Law, at 5. On at least two of these visits, hospital staff members found that plaintiff verbalized paranoid ideations. Def.'s Mem. of Law, at 5; Hingerton Affid., Ex. B at 6, 11. On each of these occasions, apparently because they believed plaintiff suffered a mental illness, doctors administered a psychiatric evaluation. Id., ¶ 8; Pl.'s Mem. of Law, at 4; Def.'s Mem. of Law, at 5. After the third visit, plaintiff was prescribed Thorazine, a psychotropic medication. Def.'s Mem. of Law, at 5; Hingerton Affid., Ex. B at 7.

In the early morning hours of January 1, 1993, plaintiff called police to make a complaint against his step-brother and his step-brother's girlfriend for child abuse. Demarco Affid., ¶ 9. What transpired over the next few hours is disputed. It is undisputed, however, that plaintiff turned up at the Hicksville Station of the Long Island Rail Road at 3:00 a.m. on January 1, where police observed him approaching other commuters and relating that his urine was clear. Demarco Affid., ¶ 10; Def.'s Mem. of Law, at 6. After a brief conversation with police, during which plaintiff informed them that he had been convicted in California for possession of a controlled substance, they took him to the NCMC. Demarco Affid., ¶ 11.

Upon arrival at the hospital, although the extent of plaintiff's cooperation and nature of his conduct is disputed, plaintiff admits, at least, that he was frustrated, angry, and in an uncooperative mood. Demarco Affid., ¶ 12. Further, it was necessary at some point for four security guards to subdue plaintiff and place him in four point restraints. Demarco Affid., ¶ 12; Def.'s Mem. of Law, at 6. A nurse found in plaintiff's possession, inter alia, two bottles of urine and several objects that appeared to be self-fashioned spikes or nails, but which plaintiff insists were spark plugs that he intended to sell for scrap value. Demarco Affid., ¶ 18; Def.'s Mem. of Law, at 7. The staff found it necessary to administer several sedative medications in the emergency room. Demarco Affid., ¶ 13; Def.'s Mem. of Law, at 6. Because of his earlier visits, doctors and nurses at the NCMC were familiar with plaintiff, his complaints, his history of drug use and previous hospitalization in a psychiatric institution. Demarco Affid., ¶ 10, 12, 22; Def.'s Mem. of Law, at 7; Hingerton Affid., Ex. B, at 17.

Plaintiff states that he only vaguely remembers being examined by Dr. Sadiker before being transferred to the Pilgrim Psychiatric Center (hereinafter "PPC"). Demarco Affid., ¶ 14. Apparently for this reason he has not disputed, and cannot dispute, that she performed a thorough examination of plaintiff, in the course of which she found that plaintiff was "extremely paranoid", "angry", and "hostile", with "questionable impulse control" and "insight and judgment impaired." Hingerton Affid., Ex. B, at 8. Dr. Sadiker concluded that plaintiff was uncontrollable, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous to himself and others. Hingerton Affid., Ex. B, at 11-12. Plaintiff also does not dispute that Dr. Sadiker filled out forms entitled "Application for Involuntary Admission" under M.H.L. § 9.37 and "Certificate of Examination," the latter of which refers to the former for an explanation of the reasons for admission. Hingerton Affid., Ex. B, at 1-3. Defendants do not dispute that neither the "harmful to self" nor the "harmful to others" box has been checked on that Certificate. Id.

Upon arrival at PPC, plaintiff had some contact with Dr. Paiz; the extent of this contact is a critical disputed fact. Plaintiff insists that Dr. Paiz did nothing more than hand him a form to sign. Demarco Affid., ¶ 17, 18. Defendants assert that Dr. Paiz performed a full examination, and have produced, in support of this claim, a document entitled "Screening/Admission Note," dated January 1, 1993 at 1:00 p.m., which details Dr. Paiz's impressions of plaintiff and gives no indication of being manufactured. Hingerton Affid., Ex. B, at 14-15. Plaintiff does not dispute that, according to this document, Dr. Paiz concluded and recorded that he was "hostile," "delusional," and had "impaired insight and judgment." Hingerton Affid., Ex. B, at 14-15. The document does not explicitly state that plaintiff is a threat to himself or others, and defendants have not claimed otherwise. Id.

As required by M.H.L. § 9.37, Dr. Ohson performed an examination of plaintiff seventy-two hours later, on January 4, 1993. Demarco Affid., ¶ 19; Def.'s Mem. of Law, at 8. Plaintiff admits that he appeared agitated during this interview, that he "mentioned" that Dr. Ohson was collaborating with police to entrap him, that he told Dr. Ohson that he had been intentionally served undercooked chicken, that he threatened to sue Dr. Ohson for wrongful confinement, and that he walked out of the interview. Demarco Affid., ¶ 20. Plaintiff also does not dispute that he told Ohson that, "I used to be a very dangerous man," but rather offers the affidavit of another psychiatrist to explain the statement. Stastny Affid., ¶ 28. Plaintiff does not dispute that Ohson concluded and recorded that he was "threatening" and "potentially assaultive," Hingerton Affid., Ex. B, at 26, and that Ohson checked a box on the 72-hour Certificate which stated that plaintiff showed a tendency to harm others. Id., at 5. Finally, plaintiff does not dispute the validity of the pages and pages of progress notes in which various nurses and doctors found him threatening, menacing, agitated, verbally abusive, uncooperative and paranoid. Hingerton Affid., Ex. B, at 25-32. Plaintiff was released into the custody of his aunt on January 22, 1993, the same day on which a court hearing regarding his confinement was scheduled. Demarco Affid., ¶ 21; Def.'s Mem. of Law, Ex. B, at 31-32.

I. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate when there exists no genuine issue of material fact in a case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2511, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). A disputed material fact is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. at 248, 106 S.Ct. at 2510. The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating that no material fact is in dispute. Hurwitz v. Sher, 982 F.2d 778, 780 (2d Cir.1992) (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 1608, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970)), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 113 S.Ct. 2345, 124 L.Ed.2d 255 (1993). In examining the record, the court must resolve all ambiguities...

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  • Mawhirt v. Ahmed, 96 CV 04773(ADS).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • February 14, 2000 finding plaintiff to be a danger to others ... they are qualifiedly immune from liability under Section 1983."); Demarco v. Sadiker, 897 F.Supp. 693 (E.D.N.Y.1995), rev'd on other grounds, 1999 WL 1024696, 199 F.3d 1321 (2d Cir.1999) (holding that despite the fact the plaintiff submitted......
  • Demarco v. Sadiker, 93-CV-5938 (ARR).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • September 25, 1996
    ...pending further discovery on the issue of whether Dr. Paiz performed a legally sufficient psychiatric examination. Demarco v. Sadiker, 897 F.Supp. 693 (E.D.N.Y.1995). Plaintiff timely moved for reargument on the issue of Dr. Iafrete's motion to dismiss the demand for expungement, an applica......
  • Esposito v. Quatinez, 09 CV 0421(DRH)(GRB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • March 5, 2014
    ...based upon the undisputed facts that this plaintiff did not pose a threat of harm to [her]self or others.” Demarco v. Sadiker et al., 897 F.Supp. 693, 704 (E.D.N.Y.1995), rev'd on other grounds199 F.3d 1321 (2d Cir.1999). As a result, plaintiff's substantive due process claim survives. Desp......

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