Riffe v. Armstrong, No. 22980

CourtSupreme Court of West Virginia
Writing for the CourtALBRIGHT; Detention after the court order, pending the probable cause hearing. The circuit court's order in the involuntary commitment proceeding, issued after appellee Nolley completed her petition and caused it to be presented to the court; WORKMAN
Citation197 W.Va. 626,477 S.E.2d 535
PartiesRuth RIFFE, Plaintiff Below, Appellant, v. William ARMSTRONG; Deborah Nolley; Dr. Phillip Robertson; Springhaven, Inc., A West Virginia Corporation; and Princeton Community Hospital Association, Inc., A West Virginia Corporation, Defendants Below, Appellees.
Docket NumberNo. 22980
Decision Date05 September 1996

Page 535

477 S.E.2d 535
197 W.Va. 626
Ruth RIFFE, Plaintiff Below, Appellant,
v.
William ARMSTRONG; Deborah Nolley; Dr. Phillip Robertson;
Springhaven, Inc., A West Virginia Corporation; and
Princeton Community Hospital Association, Inc., A West
Virginia Corporation, Defendants Below, Appellees.
No. 22980.
Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.
Submitted March 5, 1996.
Decided July 17, 1996.
Rehearing Refused Sept. 5, 1996.

Page 539

[197 W.Va. 630] Syllabus By The Court

1. In an order dismissing fewer than all of the parties or fewer than all the claims in a civil action, the inclusion of the language required by Rule 54(b) of the West Virginia Rules of Civil Procedure makes that order appealable immediately with respect to the dismissed parties and claims.

2. Upon the appeal of an order summarily dismissing fewer than all of the parties or fewer than all the claims in a civil action, the trial court's decision to include the language required by Rule 54(b) of the West Virginia Rules of Civil Procedure for finality will be reviewed under an abuse of discretion standard.

3. Upon the appeal of a final order dismissing fewer than all of the parties or fewer than all the claims in a civil action, this Court, on the motion of any party or sua sponte, may elect to defer consideration of the appeal until an appeal is taken from the

Page 540

[197 W.Va. 631] order terminating the entire action or the time for the appeal of the terminating order expires.

4. Whether an order dismissing fewer than all of the parties or fewer than all the claims in a civil action, which does not contain the express determinations set forth in Rule 54(b) of the West Virginia Rules of Civil Procedure, was intended to be final and is therefore appealable before the entire action is terminated will be determined by this Court from all the circumstances and the terms of the order. The better practice for the circuit courts to follow is to expressly state or negate their intentions with respect to the finality of such an order within the body of the order.

5. An order dismissing fewer than all of the parties or fewer than all the claims in a civil action which contains a determination by a circuit court that the order not be considered final will be reviewed by this Court only upon application for a writ of prohibition. The party seeking such a writ must show any such abuse clearly and convincingly, because this Court greatly favors having before it all matters in controversy when reviewing the issues raised before it.

6. " 'Where an appeal is properly obtained from an appealable decree either final or interlocutory, such appeal will bring with it for review all preceding non-appealable decrees or orders, from which have arisen any of the errors complained of in the decree appealed from, no matter how long they may have been rendered before the appeal was taken.' Point 2, syllabus, Lloyd v. Kyle, 26 W.Va. 534 [1885]." Syllabus point 5, State ex rel. Davis v. Iman Mining Co., 144 W.Va. 46, 106 S.E.2d 97 (1958).

7. "A motion for reconsideration filed within ten days of judgment being entered suspends the finality of the judgment and makes the judgment unripe for appeal. When the time for appeal is so extended, its full length begins to run from the date of entry of the order disposing of the motion." Syllabus point 7, James M.B. v. Carolyn M., 193 W.Va. 289, 456 S.E.2d 16 (1995).

8. An appeal may be taken from a final order disposing of a motion under Rule 59(e) of the West Virginia Rules of Civil Procedure at any time within the appeal period provided by the entry of the order or within any proper extension of the appeal period.

9. "A circuit court's entry of summary judgment is reviewed de novo." Syllabus point 1, Painter v. Peavy, 192 W.Va. 189, 451 S.E.2d 755 (1994).

10. The defense of quasi-judicial immunity or privilege is generally available to one participating in the involuntary commitment process in good faith. However, the defense of quasi-judicial immunity or privilege does not apply where it is shown: (1) that a materially false medical certificate was employed to effect or continue the detention of the plaintiff, (2) that such false medical certificate was necessary to the continued detention of the plaintiff, and (3) that the person made and employed the false medical certificate, or (4) employed such certificate knowing or having reason to know that it was materially false.

11. The lawful temporary commitment of an allegedly mentally ill person to a mental health facility under the provisions of W.Va.Code § 27-5-1, et seq., may only occur when two steps have been accomplished: (1) a facially valid certificate of an examining physician or psychologist exists expressing the judgment that such person is mentally ill and likely to harm himself or herself or others, and (2) a facially valid finding of probable cause has been made to the same effect.

12. " ' "An intervening cause, in order to relieve a person charged with negligence in connection with an injury, must be a negligent act, or omission, which constitutes a new effective cause and operates independently of any other act, making it and it only, the proximate cause of the injury." Syllabus Point 16, Lester v. Rose, 147 W.Va. 575, 130 S.E.2d 80 (1963) [modified on other grounds, State ex rel. Sutton v. Spillers, 181 W.Va. 376, 382 S.E.2d 570 (1989) ].' Syllabus Point 1, Perry v. Melton, 171 W.Va. 397, 299 S.E.2d 8 (1982)." Syllabus point 3, Wehner v. Weinstein, 191 W.Va. 149, 444 S.E.2d 27 (1994).

13. "One who engages in affirmative conduct, and thereafter realizes or should

Page 541

[197 W.Va. 632] realize that such conduct has created an unreasonable risk of harm to another, is under a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent the threatened harm." Syllabus point 2, Robertson v. LeMaster, 171 W.Va. 607, 301 S.E.2d 563 (1983).

Rebecca M. Bell, Mary E. Griffith, Belle & Griffith, L.C., Princeton, for Appellant.

Edgar E. Bibb, III, Kenneth E. Knopf, Timbera C. Wilcox, Melissa R. Metzger, Cleek, Pullin, Knopf & Fowler, Charleston, for Appellees, William Armstrong, Deborah Nolley, and Springhaven, Inc.

William F. Foster, II, William J. Cooper, Jacobson, Maynard, Tuschman & Kalur, Charleston, for Appellee, Dr. Phillip Robertson.

Edward C. Martin, David S. Givens, Flaherty, Sensabaugh & Bonasso, Charleston, for Appellee, Princeton Community Hospital Association, Inc.

ALBRIGHT, Justice:

This civil action was brought in the Circuit Court of Mercer County, West Virginia, for money damages arising out of the attempted involuntary commitment of appellant, Ruth Riffe, under the provisions of W.Va.Code, § 27-5-1, et seq. Appellant claims she was falsely imprisoned by appellees William Armstrong, Deborah Nolley, Springhaven, Inc., and Princeton Community Hospital when she was held against her will in the Behavioral Medicine Unit at Princeton Community Hospital and when, against her will, she was subsequently placed in restraints and transported to and held at Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital. She also claims that appellee Doctor Phillip Robertson committed medical malpractice in providing a physician's certificate for the involuntary commitment proceedings. Finally, appellant claims that all appellees intentionally inflicted emotional distress on her by their actions.

Doctor Robertson sought and was granted summary judgment on June 28, 1994. The remaining appellees were granted summary judgment by order entered August 1, 1994. After motion made August 5, 1994, the court denied appellant relief from those judgments by order entered November 29, 1994. Appellant filed her appeal on March 29, 1995. Appellant contends that summary judgment was not proper because genuine issues of material fact remain unresolved. We agree and reverse and remand to the circuit court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL SUMMARY

On January 2, 1992, appellant arrived by ambulance at Princeton Community Hospital, with her son, Robert Riffe, who was to be admitted to the Behavioral Medicine Unit (BMU) there for treatment, following hospitalization at Welch Emergency Hospital for a suicide attempt involving an overdose of drugs. Appellant and her son were discovered outside the BMU by nurse Linda Spangler as she returned from lunch. Appellant was distraught and crying. After attempting to console appellant, Ms. Spangler summoned appellee Deborah Nolley, a clinical psychologist who was familiar with Robert Riffe's case. Appellee Nolley inquired as to the cause of appellant's distress, and appellant replied that she would kill her husband and then kill herself so her son would be fine. Appellant appeared to be mentally confused and claimed she had not eaten or slept for three days.

Appellant and her son moved into the BMU. The parties give conflicting accounts of why this occurred. Appellant claims she was enticed into the unit with an offer of a cup of coffee, while appellees claim appellant entered the unit as a result of her son's encouragement. Nonetheless, shortly after appellant entered the unit and her behavior was observed, appellee Nolley prepared a petition (or application) for involuntary commitment pursuant to W.Va.Code § 27-5-2(a)(2) (1983). 1

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[197 W.Va. 633] Appellee William Armstrong is the chief executive officer of appellee Springhaven, Inc., a nonprofit corporation that operates the BMU under contract with Princeton Community Hospital. Appellee Nolley consulted appellee Armstrong and they jointly determined that appellant was agitated, delusional, suffering from sleep and food deprivation, and possibly homicidal and suicidal. When efforts to calm her failed and offers of housing and food were rejected, Armstrong and Nolley approached Doctor Phillip Robertson, a psychiatrist practicing at the unit. Doctor Robertson was asked to complete a certificate attesting to the fact that appellant was mentally ill...

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61 practice notes
  • Law v. Monongahela Power Co., No. 29179.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • December 12, 2001
    ...appeal, and that time does not begin to run until the entry of an order deciding the issues raised by the motion." Riffe v. Armstrong, 197 W.Va. 626, 636, 477 S.E.2d 535, 545 (1996), holding modified on other grounds, Moats v. Preston County Comm'n, 206 W.Va. 8, 521 S.E.2d 180 This Court ar......
  • Holsten v. Massey, No. 23459
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • July 16, 1997
    ...of plaintiff's home ... the discharge of [one of the officer's] weapon[s] was not the result of implementing such policy." Id. at 626, 477 S.E.2d at 535. We explained in Mallamo that the phrase "the method of providing police or fire 'is aimed at such basic matters as the type and number of......
  • Gomez v. Kanawha Cnty. Comm'n, No. 15–0342
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • June 3, 2016
    ...disposing of the last of all claims as to the last of all parties, then the appeal brings with it all prior orders.” Riffe v. Armstrong , 197 W.Va. 626, 637, 477 S.E.2d 535, 546 (1996), modified on other grounds by Moats v. Preston Cty. Comm'n , 206 W.Va. 8, 521 S.E.2d 180 (1999).9 Syllabus......
  • Parkulo v. West Virginia Bd. of Probation and Parole, No. 23366
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • February 11, 1997
    ...judgment is reviewed de novo.' Syllabus point 1, Painter v. Peavy, 192 W.Va. 189, 451 S.E.2d 755 (1994)." Syl. pt. 9, Riffe v. Armstrong, 197 W.Va. 626, 477 S.E.2d 535 ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR Appellant, Chandra K. Parkulo, assigns two errors. She contends that the lower court erred in finding ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
61 cases
  • Law v. Monongahela Power Co., No. 29179.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • December 12, 2001
    ...appeal, and that time does not begin to run until the entry of an order deciding the issues raised by the motion." Riffe v. Armstrong, 197 W.Va. 626, 636, 477 S.E.2d 535, 545 (1996), holding modified on other grounds, Moats v. Preston County Comm'n, 206 W.Va. 8, 521 S.E.2d 180 This Court ar......
  • Holsten v. Massey, No. 23459
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • July 16, 1997
    ...of plaintiff's home ... the discharge of [one of the officer's] weapon[s] was not the result of implementing such policy." Id. at 626, 477 S.E.2d at 535. We explained in Mallamo that the phrase "the method of providing police or fire 'is aimed at such basic matters as the type and number of......
  • Gomez v. Kanawha Cnty. Comm'n, No. 15–0342
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • June 3, 2016
    ...disposing of the last of all claims as to the last of all parties, then the appeal brings with it all prior orders.” Riffe v. Armstrong , 197 W.Va. 626, 637, 477 S.E.2d 535, 546 (1996), modified on other grounds by Moats v. Preston Cty. Comm'n , 206 W.Va. 8, 521 S.E.2d 180 (1999).9 Syllabus......
  • Parkulo v. West Virginia Bd. of Probation and Parole, No. 23366
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • February 11, 1997
    ...judgment is reviewed de novo.' Syllabus point 1, Painter v. Peavy, 192 W.Va. 189, 451 S.E.2d 755 (1994)." Syl. pt. 9, Riffe v. Armstrong, 197 W.Va. 626, 477 S.E.2d 535 ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR Appellant, Chandra K. Parkulo, assigns two errors. She contends that the lower court erred in finding ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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