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Vincent Ianni v. Bergen Regional Medical Center

May 11, 2011

VINCENT IANNI, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
BERGEN REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, CARE PLUS NJ, INC., BOROUGH OF LEONIA, LEONIA POLICE DEPARTMENT, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Docket No. L-589-09.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued March 22, 2011

Before Judges Parrillo, Yannotti and Roe.

Plaintiff, Vincent Ianni, appeals the grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants, Bergen Regional Medical Center (Bergen Regional) and Care Plus, Inc. (Care Plus) and the dismissal with prejudice granted to defendants, Borough of Leonia (Borough) and Leonia Police Department (LPD). We affirm.

Plaintiff was involuntarily civilly committed on two separate occasions by referrals of officers of the LPD. Plaintiff first summoned the police to his property on October 4, 2008 regarding a dispute with his neighbor over the neighbor's renovations and their property line. The police responded and shortly thereafter, plaintiff attacked his neighbor and shoved her to the ground.

The police called a screening service and transported plaintiff to Bergen Regional. Plaintiff was screened for an emergency psychiatric evaluation by Care Plus. As a result, plaintiff was involuntarily committed on October 8, 2008 by temporary order for commitment pursuant to N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.2(b).

Plaintiff's daily medical records from Bergen Regional indicate he was non-compliant with his medications and refused to have his vital signs measured. Plaintiff also refused to accept any meals prepared by the hospital, except for some fresh fruit and milk. He alleged he was unsure of the ingredients in the prepared foods and would not eat fruits such as bananas because "some of them contain bacteria in the inside which has to be cleaned."

Plaintiff was released from commitment on October 13, 2008. The next day, the police were again summoned to plaintiff's property. According to the police officers, plaintiff began violently swinging a pickaxe at the ground and in the direction of his neighbor, despite several requests to stop. Plaintiff was arrested after he threw a ground stake in the direction of the police. The police again contacted Care Plus, who referred plaintiff for a second civil commitment. He was discharged from this commitment on October 20, 2008.

Plaintiff sued the police, the Borough, Care Plus and Bergen Regional, alleging each party exhibited bad faith and acted unreasonably in bringing about his civil commitment. He also alleged Bergen Regional deprived him of adequate food.

On June 22, 2010, the court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants, Bergen Medical and Care Plus, in accordance with N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.7(a). On the same date, plaintiff's complaint was dismissed with prejudice as to defendants, Borough and LPD, for failure to provide answers to interrogatories pursuant to Rule 4:23-5(a)(2). Alternatively, the court determined all defendants were entitled to immunity under N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.7(a).

On appeal, plaintiff presents the following arguments for our consideration: the trial court erred in finding all of the defendants were entitled to immunity based on bad faith in the second involuntary commitment of the plaintiff, and in dismissing the plaintiff's complaint against the LPD and the Borough with prejudice.

I.

The legal conclusions reached by a trial court on a motion for summary judgment are not entitled to any special deference, and hence an "issue of law [is] subject to de novo plenary appellate review." City of Atlantic City v. Trupos, 201 N.J. 447, 463 (2010) (citing Manalapan Realty L.P. v. Twp. Comm. of Manalapan, 140 N.J. 366, 378 (1995); Prudential Prop. and Cas. ...


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