Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Joseph Bacon A/K/A Joel Bacon v. Dr. Elizabeth Burns

September 17, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Jerome B. Simandle


SIMANDLE, District Judge:

This matter is before the Court on the supplemental motion of Defendant Dr. Elizabeth Burns for summary judgment. [Docket Item 30.] THE COURT FINDS AS FOLLOWS:

1. Plaintiff Joel Bacon claims, in this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action, that his due process rights have been being violated by involuntary injections of medication(s) prescribed to him by Defendant Burns. The complete factual and procedural history of this action are discussed in the Court's November 15, 2011 Opinion, and are incorporated herein. Bacon v. Burns, Civ. No. 10-5484, 2011 WL 5599580 (D.N.J. Nov. 15, 2011).

2. Defendant Dr. Elizabeth Burns ("Dr. Burns" or "Defendant Burns") was the treating psychiatrist for the Plaintiff at Ancora Psychiatric Hospital from September 22, 2009 to January 13, 2010. (Burns Cert. ¶ 2.) Dr. Burns diagnosed the Plaintiff with Schizoaffective Disorder Bipolar Type, a major mental illness.

On or about November 5, 2009, the Plaintiff started to refuse to take one of his medications, Haldol. Dr. Burns evaluated the Plaintiff and concluded that there was no other option but to administer Haldol against the Plaintiff's will. After following an internal procedure, Dr. Burns administered Haldol to the Plaintiff without the Plaintiff's consent.

3. The Plaintiff filed the instant action alleging that Dr. Burns violated his constitutional rights by involuntarily injecting him with antipsychotic medication to which he was allergic. The Plaintiff maintains Dr. Burns did not follow the proper three step procedure required by New Jersey Administrative Bulletin 5:04 and Rennie v. Klein, 720 F.2d 266, 269 (3d Cir. 1983).

4. The Third Circuit in Rennie held a three-step procedure was required prior to the forcible administration of antipsychotic medication in order to satisfy due process. First, the attending physician must explain his or her reason for prescribing the medication and must discuss the drugs' benefits and risks. Second, the patient was encouraged to seek outside advice from family and friends and a required meeting was then held with a treatment team if the patient still refused the medication. The third and final step was an independent review by the medical director, whose concurrence is required before any medication was administered. Id. at 270 n.9.

5. In order to comply with the Rennie decision, New Jersey adopted Administrative Bulletin 5:04 which articulates the specific three-step procedure required by medical personnel prior to the administration of medication to a non-consenting patient. In particular, the Administrative Bulletin requires the treating physician to meet with the patient to discuss and attempt to respond to the patient's concerns about the medication. If the patient still refuses to take the medication and the treating physician believes the medication is a necessary part of the patient's treatment plan, the treating physician must tell the patient that the matter will be discussed at a meeting of the patient's treatment team and shall invite the patient to attend. In addition, the treating physician should encourage the patient to discuss the matter with a person of his own choosing and shall advise the patient that a Rennie advocate is available to provide assistance. (Ex. J at 7.)

6. The Court previously denied Defendant Burns' motion for summary judgment. [Docket Items 25 & 26.] The court held that genuine issues of material fact exist as to whether Dr. Burns substantially complied with N.J.A.B. 5:04. Specifically, Dr. Burns was required to inform the Plaintiff that a team meeting would take place and was required to invite the Plaintiff to attend. The treating physician is also required pursuant to N.J.A.B. 5:04 to encourage the patient to discuss the matter with an outside individual, such as a family member or a friend, and advise the patient that a Rennie advocate is available to provide assistance. There was no evidence in the record that this occurred. Further, it was unclear whether the Plaintiff was in attendance at the team meeting and able to discuss his concerns about the medication.

7. Instead, the record only indicated that Dr. Burns met with the Plaintiff to discuss his refusal to take Haldol and explained to him that the medication was necessary because he posed a danger to himself and others without the medication. In addition, the evidence in the record suggested that all three steps of the Rennie process occurred on the same day, December 3, 2009. The court found that this was insufficient to comply with the requirements of N.J.A.B. 5:04.

8. However, the court's denial was without prejudice to refiling the motion with a more complete record. Defendant Burns then renewed her motion for summary judgment and provided a supplemental record. [Docket Item 30.] The Plaintiff filed opposition to this motion and maintains the Dr. Burns did not substantially comply with N.J.A.B. 5:04. [Docket Item 50.]

9. Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A dispute is "genuine" if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party."

See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is "material" only if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the applicable rule of law. Id. Summary judgment will not be denied based on mere allegations or denials in the pleadings; instead, some evidence must be produced to support a material fact. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(A); United States v. Premises Known as 717 S. Woodward Street, Allentown, Pa., 2 F.3d 529, 533 (3d Cir. 1993). The Court will view any evidence in favor of the nonmoving party and extend any reasonable favorable inferences to be drawn from that evidence to that party. Hunt v. Cromartie, 526 U.S. 541, 552 (1999). See also Scott v. Harris, ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.