Miretskaya v. Rutgers, The State Univ. of N.J.

Decision Date29 July 2022
Docket NumberCivil Action 20-14856 (MAS) (DEA)
PartiesYULIYA MIRETSKAYA, Plaintiff, v. RUTGERS, THE STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW JERSEY et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of New Jersey

YULIYA MIRETSKAYA, Plaintiff,
v.
RUTGERS, THE STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW JERSEY et al., Defendants.

Civil Action No. 20-14856 (MAS) (DEA)

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

July 29, 2022


NOT FOR PUBLICATION

MEMORANDUM OPINION

MICHAEL A. SHIPP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

This matter comes before the Court on two separate Motions to Dismiss Plaintiff Yuliya Miretskaya's (“Miretskaya”) Amended Complaint from Defendant Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey (“Rutgers”) and Defendant Dr. Carmencita T. Lanez (“Dr. Lanez,” and together with Rutgers, “Defendants”). (ECF Nos. 58, 77.) Miretskaya opposed both motions (ECF Nos. 74, 101), and Dr. Lanez and Rutgers replied separately (ECF Nos. 79, 113). The Court has carefully considered the parties' submissions and decides the matter without oral argument under Local Civil Rule 78.1. For the reasons below, the Court grants Defendants' Motions.

I. BACKGROUND

This suit arises out of the detention, confinement and ultimately the involuntary commitment of Miretskaya at the Raritan Bay Medical Center (“RBMC”). (See generally Am. Compl., ECF No. 38.) This matter implicates a lengthy list of defendants whose involvement in the relevant events spans the gambit from intimate to remote. As a result of his involuntary

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commitment, Miretskaya seeks recovery for constitutional and statutory violations in addition to common law and statutory torts from several defendants including Rutgers, the employer of two doctors who evaluated or supervised the evaluation of Miretskaya, and Dr. Lanez who was involved in the process to determine that Miretskaya was committable. In chronicling the Amended Complaint's wide-ranging allegations, the Court accepts all well-pleaded facts as true. See Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Pinker v. Roche Holdings, Ltd, 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002)).

A. Miretskaya is Detained by Woodbridge Police

On July 22, 2018, Miretskaya, who was previously diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, called the Suffolk County mental health hotline and “sarcastically” conveyed that he “wanted to facilitate the honor killing of his third cousin's sister-in-law.” (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 27-29, 33.) Distressed that Miretskaya could be a danger to himself or others, the hotline operator hung up and called the police. (Id. ¶ 36.) Later that same evening, police officers from the Woodbridge Police Department conducted a welfare check.[1] (Id. ¶ 39.) At least one of the officers indicated they were concerned that Miretskaya wanted to “hire a hit-man to murder [his] sister.” (Id.) After a conversation with the officers, which included assertions from Miretskaya and his mother that he did not, in fact, have a sister, the police detained Miretskaya and took him to the Raritan Bay Medical Center for a psychiatric evaluation. (Id. ¶¶ 42, 45.)

B. Medical Experts Determine Miretskaya is “Likely Committable”

Upon arrival at RBMC, Miretskaya was processed, and given an opportunity to watch TV or go to his assigned bed. (Id. ¶ 48.) Miretskaya decided to watch TV, which lasted for a while

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before sometime later, medical personnel directed him to bed. (Id. ¶¶ 50-51.) After an apparent disagreement as to whether Miretskaya could continue to watch TV, he was physically restrained and forcibly medicated. (Id. ¶¶ 52-57.) Thereafter, Dr. Lanez determined that Miretskaya was “likely committable” based on clinical notes from social worker Emma Locke. (Id. ¶ 69.) As a result, she called for an independent evaluation by Defendant Dr. La Shauna Richardson (“Dr. Richardson”), an employee of Rutgers University. (Id. ¶¶ 69, 71,76.) Dr. Richardson was overseen by Defendant Dr. Greg Fitzpatrick, Director of the Acute Psychiatric Services (APS) for Rutgers University. (Id. ¶ 26.)

C. Miretskaya is Involuntarily Committed

Dr. Richardson's independent evaluation concluded that Miretskaya met the criteria for involuntary commitment. (Id. ¶ 82.) On July 25, 2018, Miretskaya was admitted to RBMC's “Center for Living.” (Id. ¶ 96.) Ultimately, an ex parte petition for involuntary confinement was submitted to and approved by the Middlesex County Superior Court on July 27, 2018. (Id. ¶ 87.) Throughout Miretskaya's stay at the Center for Living, he was evaluated and attended to by several doctors and nurses who are named defendants in this suit, but whose conduct is not relevant to the motions before the Court. (Id. ¶¶ 97-107.) Ultimately, Miretskaya was determined to be “stable” and was discharged on August 3, 2018. (Id. ¶ 108.)

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2)[2] “requires only ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). On a motion to dismiss for

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failure to state a claim, a “defendant bears the burden of showing that no claim has been presented.” Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005).

A district court conducts a three-part analysis when considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Malleus v. George, 641 F.3d 560, 563 (3d Cir. 2011). “First, the court must ‘tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim.'” Id. (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 675 (2009)). Second, the court must accept as true all of a plaintiffs well-pleaded factual allegations and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009). The court, however, must disregard any conclusory allegations proffered in the complaint. Id. For example, the court is free to ignore legal conclusions or factually unsupported accusations that merely state “the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Finally, once the well-pleaded facts have been identified and the conclusory allegations ignored, a court must next “determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a ‘plausible claim for relief.'” Fowler, 578 F.3d at 211 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).

III. DISCUSSION

The Court addresses both Motions together. Dr. Lanez seeks to dismiss claims brought by Miretskaya for violations of due process rights under the United States Constitution, the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the Rehabilitation Act (“RA”), the New Jersey Civil Rights Act (“NJCRA”), and common law torts of false imprisonment and negligent infliction of emotional distress. (See generally, Am. Compl. ¶¶ 110-88.) Similarly, Rutgers seeks to dismiss claims brought by Miretskaya for violations of due process rights under the United States Constitution, the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the Rehabilitation Act (“RA”), the New Jersey Civil

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Rights Statute as well as for the tort of negligent infliction of emotional distress. (Id.) The...

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