Ward v. United States
OPINION AND ORDER by Judge Frank H. Seay granting 28 Motion for Summary Judgment (dma, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA
Case No. 14-CV-192-FHS
OPINION AND ORDER
This matter comes before the court on Defendant’s Motion for
Summary Judgment (Dkt. # 28).
Plaintiff filed his response on
December 23, 2014 (Dkt. # 29) and the defendant filed a reply on
December 31, 2014 (Dkt. # 38).
STATEMENT OF UNDISPUTED FACTS
Plaintiff is a disabled Veteran of the United States Army who
resides in Sequoyah County, Oklahoma. On August 5, 2013, Plaintiff
met with Dr. J’Dene Rogers at the VA Hospital’s East Behavioral
After meeting with Plaintiff, Dr. Rogers prepared an
This statement reflected Dr. Rogers opinion that
illness, was a person requiring treatment and that emergency
detention was warranted.
As a result of this initial assessment, Dr. Rogers initiated
procedures that caused Plaintiff to be apprehended by the Acting
Chief of Police, Tony Turner, who escorted Plaintiff from Dr.
Rogers’ office to Plaintiff’s vehicle.
From Plaintiff’s vehicle,
ambulance to the Muskogee Veterans Administration Emergency Room
Thereafter, a “Request for Prehearing Detention” was filed
with the District Court of Muskogee County, Oklahoma1 and an “Order
Directing Prehearing Detention” was entered on August 8, 2013, by
a judge in the District Court of Muskogee County, Oklahoma.
issuing this order, the state court judge found “It is the opinion
of the court there is probable cause to detain Respondent for the
protection of Respondent or others until a hearing on the Petition
in this matter.”
Dkt. # 28-4.
This order further provided that
the Plaintiff would be detained at the Department of Veterans
Affairs Medical Center.
On or about August 8, 2013, a “Petition for Involuntary
Commitment” was filed against Plaintiff in the District Court of
Muskogee County, State of Oklahoma and an Order was entered
Plaintiff requested a jury trial in regards to the Petition for
Involuntary Commitment and on August 15, 2013 a jury trial was held
on said petition.
After hearing the evidence, the jury returned a
verdict finding the Plaintiff was “a person requiring treatment”
While the document filed with the Court does not indicate the date this request was filed, Plaintiff admits it was filed
in the District Court of Muskogee County, State of Oklahoma.
and a state court judge entered an order and judgment finding
Plaintiff “is not competent to consent to or refuse treatment, and
the treating physician is authorized to treat Respondent without
Respondent’s consent, . . . .”
Dkt. # 28-8.
The Order further
provided “placement within the Jack C. Montgomery Veterans Affairs
facility is the least restrictive form of treatment practical” and
Montgomery Veterans Affairs Medical Center or associated Department
of Veterans Affairs facility, for care, treatment and medication,
and that the treating physician is authorized to treat Respondent
without Respondent’s consent.”
Plaintiff did not file any
appeal of this order nor did he file a petition for habeas corpus.
Petitioner also never filed a written request asking the treatment
order be reviewed by the committing court, or a court in the county
treatment at the Jack C. Montgomery Veterans Affairs Medical Center
by Dr. Chelf on August 23, 2013.
Summary judgment is appropriate where there is no dispute of
material facts and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.
When presented with a summary
judgment motion, this Court must determine whether there “are any
genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by the
finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of
either party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250,
106 S.Ct. 2505, 2511, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).
When evaluating a
motion for summary judgment, this Court must examine the factual
record and reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most
favorable to the party opposing summary judgment. Gray v. Phillips
Petroleum Co., 858 F.2d 610, 613 (10th Cir. 1988).
allegations or denials of his pleading but . . . must set forth
specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. at 2510 (quoting First
National Bank of Arizona v. Cities Service Co., 391 U.S. 253, 288,
88 S.Ct. 1575, 20 L.Ed.2d 569 (1968)).
Plaintiff’s Complaint alleges a “tort claim” against the
Basically, Plaintiff alleges the doctors, police and
other staff employed by the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center
deprived him of his civil rights when they initiated procedures to
have him committed and then kept him at the VA hospital for 19 days
after his commitment.
In his response, Plaintiff acknowledges
Supreme Court precedent likely bars any claims challenging the
state-court decision that resulted in his commitment. See, Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). Plaintiff claims, however, because
he has pleaded statutory claims under 38 U.S.C. §7316,2 he can
Section 7316 provides a remedy for “malpractice and negligence suits” against the United States.
amend his pleadings and add a state law claim for the tort of
“outrage” based upon the fact Dr. Rogers “wielded great power over
[plaintiff] and her mistake caused [plaintiff] to suffer severe
The case plaintiff cites to support his
position is Breeden v. League Services Corp., 575 P.2d 1374 (Okla.
The facts in Breeden are substantially different than the
ones in this case. Specifically, the Breeden case involved a trial
court granting summary judgment in favor of defendant collection
companies in a suit brought by a debtor, seeking to recover damages
for mental anguish allegedly suffered as the result of harassing
definition for the tort of “outrage,” the Court affirmed the trial
court’s grant of summary judgment and indicated liability will only
arise ‘where the conduct has been so outrageous in character, and
so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of
decency, and to be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable
in a civilized community.”
Id., at 1376.
In so doing, the
Oklahoma court indicated a court must, in the first instance,
regarded so extreme and outrageous as to permit recovery.” Id., at
In this case, where the doctors acted in accordance with
Oklahoma law and obtained an order to involuntarily commit the
Plaintiff, this Court does not believe their conduct was outrageous
Moreover, on August 20, 2014, a scheduling order was
entered herein and any amended pleadings were due by September 3,
Having admitted all of the material facts set forth in the
Defendant’s motion for summary judgment, this Court finds Plaintiff
was lawfully detained, committed and treated as allowed by the
mental health laws of the State of Oklahoma.
Court grants the Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. #
28) and dismisses Plaintiff’s complaint.
For the reasons stated herein, this Court grants the Motion
for Summary Judgment (Dkt. # 28)and hereby dismisses this action
against the Plaintiff with prejudice.
It is so ordered on this 7th day of January, 2015.
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