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State v. Levien

Decided: December 13, 1963.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY AND COUNTY OF BERGEN, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
RICHARD C. LEVIEN, GUARDIAN OF GARDNER LEVIEN, A MENTAL INCOMPETENT, DEFENDANT



G. H. Brown, J.c.c. (temporarily assigned).

Brown

By this action the State of New Jersey and the County of Bergen seek to recover from the estate of Gardner LeVien the sum of $24,992.09 as the actual per capita cost of maintaining him in the state hospitals at Greystone Park and Trenton since 1942 as a public charge. The estate funds are ample to pay the bill.

The following facts have been stipulated. LeVien was adjudged an insane person by the Bergen County Court of Common Pleas. He was consequently committed to Greystone Park by an order dated September 11, 1942. About a year later he choked two fellow patients to death. Under an order signed by the Commissioner of the Department of Institutions and Agencies on September 20, 1943 he was transferred to the State Hospital at Trenton to be held in special custody in a maximum security unit until restored to reason. He is still there in what is known as a "civil section." His current mental diagnosis is "schizophrenic reaction, paranoid type, with guarded prognosis."

This is a full statement of the legal process producing LeVien's confinement.

Plaintiffs rely upon R.S. 30:4-83 for validity of the transfer. The statute provides:

"Any inmate of any charitable, hospital, relief or training institution as classified in section 30:1-7 of this title may be transferred to any other charitable, hospital, relief or training institution, by order of the commissioner in accordance with the formally adopted rules of the state board either upon the initiative of the commissioner or upon the application of the chief executive officer."

In their claim for reimbursement, plaintiffs invoke the following further section of Title 30:

"Every patient supported in a state charitable institution shall be personally liable for his maintenance and for all necessary expenses incurred by the institution in his behalf * * *." (N.J.S.A. 30:4-66)

Defendant, Gardner LeVien's guardian, resists the claim on several grounds:

FIRST: The facts of the case preclude a finding that LeVien has the statutory status of a "patient supported in a State charitable institution" and that without this foundation the claim for reimbursement must fall.

SECOND: LeVien should be classified as "insane" within the criminal connotation of R.S. 30:4-78 so that in accordance with its provisions his maintenance will be at government expense.

THIRD: The State should not benefit from its wrongful failure to bring a timely indictment ...


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