Plaintiffs have moved for summary judgment and to dismiss defendants' counterclaim. In this action plaintiffs seek to recover damages for the cost of care and maintenance of indigent patients hospitalized at various state institutions. The amount in issue is $14,326,513.89, consisting of $13,975,364.03 for services rendered indigents up to December 31, 1979, prejudgment interest of $901,140.84 up to March 15, 1980, less a $549,990.98 credit due defendants because of legislation enacted March 14, 1980.
Plaintiffs' original complaint was filed on October 31, 1978 in the Superior Court, Mercer County. As originally structured, plaintiffs sought to recover damages from Mercer County, Hudson County and various county officials. On January 2, 1979 the claim against Hudson County, which sought damages of $247,447.21 under N.J.S.A. 30:4-68 for patients at Glen Gardner Center for Geriatrics, was severed and venue was transferred from Mercer to Hudson County. On January 4, 1980 an amended complaint was filed in which plaintiffs sought to recover damages of $13,248,980.20 plus interest for patients at 14 state institutions and in specialized residential services.
In their amended complaint plaintiffs Ann Klein, Commissioner of the Department of Human Services, State of New Jersey, and Clifford A. Goldman, State Treasurer, State of New Jersey, sue the County of Hudson, its Board of Chosen Freeholders, Edward F. Clarke, Jr., the Hudson County Executive, and Eugene F. Brenner, the Hudson County Treasurer, pursuant to
N.J.S.A. 30:4-68 and 30:4-78 to recover one-half the cost of the care and maintenance of indigent patients having legal settlement in Hudson County who are hospitalized in state institutions or specialized residential facilities.
The institutions or facilities and the charges for each up to December 31, 1979 are:
Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital $719,209.57
Trenton Psychiatric Hospital 4,360,927.16
Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital 384,153.29
Ancora Psychiatric Hospital 34,177.36
Arthur Brisbane Child Treatment Center 42,782.80
Glen Gardner Center for Geriatrics 433,327.02
Vineland State School 1,511,483.25
North Jersey Training School 1,062,649.47
Woodbine State School 588,176.13
New Lisbon State School 849,585.76
Johnstone Training and Research Center 138,416.45
Woodbridge State School 1,565,502.69
Hunterdon State School 732,282.98
New Jersey Neuropsychiatric Institute 1,157,169.51
Specialized Residential Services 395,520.59
For classification purposes, the following are psychiatric institutions:
Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital
Trenton Psychiatric Hospital
Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital
Ancora Psychiatric Hospital
Arthur Brisbane Child Treatment Center
Glen Gardner Center for Geriatrics
The following are intermediate care facilities/mentally retarded (ICF/MR):
Vineland State School*fn*
North Jersey Training School*fn*
New Jersey Neuropsychiatric Institute*fn*
and the following is a mentally retarded/not intermediate care facility:
Johnstone Training and Research Center.
Each month the State billed Hudson County by sending invoices to the County Adjuster naming the institution, name and serial number of each patient, the period of hospitalization and the daily rate charged. In November 1977 Hudson County stopped making payments for indigents transferred from Trenton Psychiatric Hospital to Glen Gardner; in March 1978 it stopped making payments for indigents at Trenton Psychiatric and Woodbridge State School; in April 1978 it stopped making payments for indigents at Greystone, Marlboro, Ancora, Arthur Brisbane, Vineland, North Jersey, Woodbine, New Lisbon, Johnstone, New Jersey Neuropsychiatric and for those indigents in special residential services, and in April 1979 it stopped making payments for indigents at Hunterdon.
The $13,975,364.03 amount sought by plaintiffs is a "net" amount which was adjusted to reflect, as credits to Hudson County, receipts by indigents of Social Security amounts, Blue Cross receipts, insurance payments and trust funds.
Summarized, this suit seeks to recover care and maintenance costs for indigents in Greystone, Marlboro and Ancora who are not receiving Medicaid funds; for indigents in Trenton, Arthur Brisbane and Glen Gardner; for indigents in intermediate care facilities/mentally retarded; for indigents in mentally retarded/not intermediate care facilities, and for indigents in special residential facilities.
Defendants answered and counterclaimed. In their answer defendants deny any liability for patients confined in Glen Gardner Center for Geriatrics; assert that the care and treatment of patients is inadequate; deny receiving the requisite three-day notice called for in N.J.S.A. 30:4-79, and contend that if any facility is ineligible for Medicare because of the State's
failure to operate it properly, no liability for any indigent patients housed in that facility may be visited upon the county.
The county's counterclaim seeks damages for payments made by the county for patients improperly admitted to Trenton Psychiatric Hospital and/or Glen Gardner Center for Geriatrics or for patients who were kept longer than necessary after determinations that they should have been discharged, or whose stays were prolonged by the inadequacy of care and treatment afforded them, or because the institution did not receive accreditation, increasing the County's financial burden.
Summarized, plaintiffs' position is: (a) Hudson County, as the county of legal settlement, is obliged by N.J.S.A. 30:4-68 to pay all care and maintenance costs for indigents in state hospitals; (b) Hudson County is obliged by N.J.S.A. 30:4-78 to pay one-half the maintenance costs of all indigents housed in state hospitals "for the mentally ill"; (c) accreditation of any state institution is not a condition precedent to the county's liability; (d) participation in the Medicaid program in no way affects the county's liability; (e) the county is liable for indigents ...