Kulak v. City of New York

Decision Date21 June 1996
Docket NumberD,No. 1433,1433
Citation88 F.3d 63
PartiesLawrence KULAK, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. The CITY OF NEW YORK, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, Edward Berkelhammer, M.D., personally, Kang Yu, M.D., personally, Claude Castille, M.D., personally, Shirley Cairme-Garcia, M.D., personally, Milagros Feliciano, M.D., personally, Patricia Roach, personally, Soledad Basa, M.D., personally, and Patricia Lambert, in her official capacity as Executive Director of Kingsboro Psychiatric Center, Defendants-Appellees. ocket 95-9021.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit

William M. Brooks, Mental Disability Law Clinic, Touro College, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center, Huntington, N.Y. for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Ellen Ravitch, New York City (Paul A. Crotty, Corporation Counsel of the City of New York, Stephen J. McGrath, Jay Douglas Dean, of counsel), for Municipal Defendants-Appellees.

David Monachino, Assistant Attorney General, New York City (Dennis C. Vacco, Attorney General, of counsel), for State Defendants-Appellees.

Before NEWMAN, Chief Judge, FEINBERG and OAKES, Circuit Judges.

OAKES, Senior Circuit Judge:

Lawrence Kulak ("Kulak") appeals from a summary judgment entered by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, David G. Trager, Judge, on September 14, 1995, in favor of Appellees the City of New York, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, Edward Berkelhammer, M.D., Kang Yu, M.D., Claude Castille, M.D., Shirley Cairme-Garcia, M.D., Milagros Feliciano, M.D., Patricia Roach, Soledad Basa, M.D., and Patricia Lambert. 1 Kulak sought injunctive and monetary relief in thirteen federal claims and seventeen pendent state law claims for injuries arising out of his involuntary confinement for mental illness at facilities of the City of New York and the State of New York. In this appeal, Kulak asserts that the district court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of the Appellees because genuine issues of material fact exist regarding whether Kulak's rights were violated by the confinement, the administration of medication, and the clinical practices of the Appellee physicians. For the reasons stated below, we affirm.

BACKGROUND

This action is brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (1994) and pendent state law. Kulak contends that his involuntary confinement, the failure to place him in a less restrictive setting, the forced administration of drugs, and several other actions on the part of the Appellee physicians violated his rights to due process and to liberty. In reviewing the facts underlying this summary judgment motion, we construe the evidence in the light most favorable to Kulak, the non-moving party. Rodriguez v. City of New York, 72 F.3d 1051, 1061 (2d Cir.1995).

Kulak's Confinement

On January 24, 1991, Kulak's father filed a petition under New York Mental Hygiene Law § 9.43 (McKinney 1996) in the Kings County Supreme Court to have his son evaluated for emergency admission to treat a mental illness. Kulak, a lawyer in his thirties, lived in his parents' home at this time. In the petition, Kulak's father swore to the following statement:

Lawrence R. Kulak has not been hospitalized for mental problems before. He refuses to visit the outpatient clinic.... Lawrence R. becomes violent, and breaks things. Lawrence R. has threatened to kill himself. Lawrence R. has made threats to me. Lawrence R. threatened Mother and Sister. Lawrence R. is verbally abusive. He does strange things. Lawrence R. has bizarre ideas .... [and] acts irrationally and is incoherent at times.

I AM VERY CONCERNED ABOUT MY SON, LAWRENCE. LAST NIGHT HE SPOKE TO MY WIFE ON THE PHONE AND SAID HE WILL KILL HER, ME, HIS SISTER AND HIMSELF. HE SAID HE WAS BURNING PHOTOGRAPHS OF US IN MEMORY OF HIS DECEASED DOG. THIS MAY BE A PRELUDE TO HIS ELIMINATION OF US. HE HAS INTERMITTENTLY SEEN PSYCHIATRISTS OVER THE YEARS FOR HIS MENTAL PROBLEMS. HE IS VERY CONTROLLING AND REFUSES TO LEAVE OUR HOME, ALTHOUGH WE HAVE OFFERED TO OBTAIN AN APARTMENT FOR HIM. HE HAS LITTERED AND DIRTIED THE ENTIRE HOUSE. I AM NOW LIVING WITH MY DAUGHTER AND HER FAMILY FOR THE PAST MONTH AND I HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO PURSUE MY PROFESSION, ALL DUE TO MY FEAR OF WHAT HE WILL DO NEXT. PLEASE HELP HIM TO GET THE HELP HE NEEDS SO VERY BADLY.

Based upon this statement, the court granted the petition and issued a warrant for Kulak's arrest. On January 28, 1991, police arrested Kulak and brought him to the Supreme Court in accordance with the warrant. After a hearing, the court ordered that Kulak be transported to the psychiatric emergency room at Kings County Hospital Center ("Kings County") for an emergency admission evaluation.

Treatment at Kings County

At Kings County, Dr. Edward Berkelhammer conducted an interview of Kulak lasting approximately five minutes. Dr. Berkelhammer's notes of Kulak's exam indicate

verbalizations show paranoia and projection 2.... Speech very fast, pressured, well articulated. Mood--anxious, irritable mood, Affect--mildly hypo-manic.... Massive denial. Patient has hands on my arms in a very threatening way. Alert and oriented as to time, place and person.

Despite Dr. Berkelhammer's notes, Kulak states that he never grabbed Dr. Berkelhammer and, though agitated because of his detention, remained calm throughout the interview.

Based upon the interview, a review of the petition sworn to by Kulak's father, and a review of documents relating to an eviction proceeding against Kulak, 3 Dr. Berkelhammer diagnosed Kulak as suffering from bipolar disorder with paranoid features and concluded that Kulak should be admitted to Kingsboro Psychiatric Center ("Kingsboro") on an emergency basis pursuant to New York Mental Hygiene Law § 9.39. Dr. Rosenberg, another staff psychiatrist not named as a defendant in this case, concurred in the diagnosis and decision to hospitalize after conducting an examination of Kulak and interviewing his parents.

Dr. Berkelhammer prescribed a low-level injection of Haldol and Ativan to counteract Kulak's "escalating irritability." The staff administered the medication over Kulak's objection.

Transfer to Kingsboro and Initial Examination

On the evening of January 28, 1991, Kings County transferred Kulak to Kingsboro, where Dr. Kang Yu authorized Kulak's further confinement without conducting a personal interview. The following day, Dr. Shirley Cairme-Garcia examined Kulak for ten to fifteen minutes. She told Kulak that she prescribed 25 milligrams of Thorazine, an antipsychotic drug, but did not tell him of its potential side effects. Hospital records indicate that although Kulak often refused to take the medication, he consented on three occasions between February 1 and February 6.

The Habeas Corpus Petition

On January 29, 1991, the day after arriving at Kingsboro, Kulak filed a habeas corpus petition in New York Supreme Court seeking release from Kingsboro because he was "not mentally ill or not in need of further retention for inpatient care and treatment." The court appointed an independent psychiatrist, Dr. Richard Weidenbacher, to examine Kulak and held a hearing over several days. During the hearing, three acquaintances of Kulak testified, as did Kulak himself, Dr. Weidenbacher, and Kulak's treating psychiatrist at Kingsboro, Dr. Claude Castille.

Dr. Weidenbacher was asked by Kulak's attorney whether Kulak was a danger to himself or others. He responded, "[n]ot in the hospital.... It's my clear impression that it would be dangerous were he to resume residence with [his parents]." He later testified that Kulak "is potentially a danger to himself, ... in addition to potentially a danger to his parents when in proximity to them." Regarding Kulak's continued hospitalization, Dr. Weidenbacher testified:

I cannot recommend his discharge from [the] hospital until firm formal arrangements have been made to supervised residential [care], as well as formal arrangements for psychiatric treatment on an out-patient basis.

....

I do not think continued residence and treatment in hospital is optimal. But I see it as rational and essential prior to alternative placement....

Dr. Castille agreed that Kulak could be moved to a supervised setting outside of the hospital, but stated that

if we release[ ] him without such a setting, what will happen is ... as he said in his own word[s][,] he will get panic[ked], frustrated and maybe decompensating and maybe he will be dangerous to his father.

....

Mr. Kulak right now is in a supervised setting, the hospital. He is not dangerous but if the patient doesn't receive the treatment necessary he will continue doing--the projection then will not be only with words but he can act.

On February 11, 1991, the court, taking into account all of the testimony and noting that Kulak had rejected the recommendation of both doctors regarding supervised treatment, denied the petition. The court stated:

The Court dismisses the writ but on the other hand directs the hospital to arrange for a suitable facility as a less restrictive alternative rather than remaining in the hospital for any period of time. The Court recommends to the hospital personnel that the first direction that the social worker and others ... can look to might be some kind of a home setting with supervision and the potential for psychiatric treatment.... I don't want this to go on for too long a period of time. I think that we have to utilize our best efforts to provide a facility as quickly as possible.

Following the hearing, Kulak returned to Kingsboro.

Treatment at Kingsboro After the Habeas Corpus Hearing

Upon his return to Kingsboro, Dr. Castille informed Kulak that Dr. Soledad Basa had directed that Kulak be transferred to ward five, a ward where Kulak had previously resided. Kulak protested against the transfer, asserting that during his previous stay on ward five, other patients had threatened him. Dr. Castille told Kulak that the transfer was...

To continue reading

Request your trial
733 cases
  • In re Treco
    • United States
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Southern District of New York
    • January 22, 1999
    ...to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.'" Kulak v. City of New York, 88 F.3d 63, 70 (2d Cir. 1996) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 251-52, 106 S.Ct. at 2512); see also Heyman v. Commerce & Industry I......
  • Reidy v. Runyon
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of New York
    • July 30, 1997
    ...However, mere conclusory allegations, speculation or conjecture will not avail a party resisting summary judgment. Kulak v. City of New York, 88 F.3d 63, 71 (2d Cir. 1996). If there is evidence in the record as to any material fact from which an inference could be drawn in favor of the non-......
  • Senese v. Longwood Cent. Sch. Dist., 2:15-cv-07234 (ADS)(AYS)
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of New York
    • August 3, 2018
    ...is insufficient. Conjecture, speculation, or conclusory statements are not enough to defeat summary judgment. Kulak v. City of N.Y. , 88 F.3d 63, 71 (2d Cir. 1996) (internal citations omitted). When allegations of discriminatory retaliation are at issue, a court must utilize "an extra measu......
  • Pack v. Artuz
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of New York
    • September 27, 2004
    ...v. McCurry, 449 U.S. 90, 99, 101 S.Ct. 411, 66 L.Ed.2d 308 (1980); Leather v. Eyck, 180 F.3d 420, 424 (2d Cir.1999); Kulak v. City of New York, 88 F.3d 63, 71 (2d Cir.1996). Accordingly, we look to New York law on res judicata and collateral estoppel. A. Res Judicata/Claim Preclusion New Yo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • Prisoners' Rights
    • United States
    • Georgetown Law Journal No. 110-Annual Review, August 2022
    • August 1, 2022
    ...mandating prisoner’s reinstatement). The court order must be mandatory to create a liberty interest. See, e.g., Kulak v. City of New York, 88 F.3d 63, 73 (2d Cir. 1996) (no liberty interest created by court recommendation that mental hospital transfer patient to less restrictive environment......
  • The End of Seclusion and Restraint
    • United States
    • Vermont Bar Association Vermont Bar Journal No. 2006-07, July 2006
    • Invalid date
    ...Surrounding the Death of Christopher Fitzgerald on August 8, 2003 at the Vermont State Hospital." 8. See Kulak v. City of New York, 88 F.3d 63 (2d. Cir.1996) (holding that use of a Haldol cocktail as emergency medication was not a constitutional violation even though providing just Ativan, ......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT