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Altheide v. De Guzman

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

September 20, 2013

JASON ALTHEIDE, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. ANGELINE DE GUZMAN, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

SUZANNE H. SEGAL, Magistrate Judge.

I.

INTRODUCTION

On June 6, 2013, Jason Altheide ("Plaintiff"), a mentally disordered offender ("MDO") proceeding pro se, filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 (the "Complaint"). At the time of the incidents alleged in the Complaint, Plaintiff was a parolee detained at Atascadero State Hospital as an MDO pursuant to California Penal Code section 2962 as a condition of his parole.[1] (See Complaint at 14).[2] For the reasons stated below, the Complaint is dismissed with leave to amend.[3]

II.

ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT

Plaintiff names as Defendants the following eight employees of Atascadero State Hospital: (1) Dr. Angeline De Guzman, psychiatrist; (2) Dr. William Knowlton, psychiatrist; (3) Dr. Marc Reiner, psychiatrist; (4) Dr. David Fennel, chief forensic psychiatrist; (5) Suzy Brady, psych-tech advocate; (6) Jeanne McLean, psych-tech coordinator; (7) Thomas Cahill, chief medical director; and (8) Linda Persons, executive director. (Complaint at 3-5). Plaintiff sues all Defendants in their official capacities only. (See id.).

The Complaint alleges that on August 9, 2012, Dr. De Guzman ordered that Plaintiff be given Haldol, a first-generation antipsychotic drug, despite his refusal to take the medication.[4] (Complaint at 6). Plaintiff further alleges that Dr. De Guzman "then ordered the same drug to be involuntarily applied" until November 16, 2012. (Id.). However, according to Plaintiff, the California Department of Mental Health Wellness and Recovery Plan regarding Plaintiff, completed at Atascadero State Hospital and finalized on August 3, 2012, indicates that Plaintiff has "[a]llergies to Haldol and Thorazine (cause him to lock up)." ( Id. at 15). As a result of the involuntary administration of Haldol, Plaintiff claims that he suffered severe side effects that were diagnosed by a neurologist as "substance [i]nduced Parkinsonism." ( Id. at 7).

Plaintiff's first Medication Review Hearing was held on August 10, 2012. ( Id. at 6). Plaintiff wanted to attend but did not because he was in "Full Bed Restraints" in another room, as noted in the Involuntary Psychotropic Medication Review Hearing Decision. ( Id. at 6 & 11). Plaintiff alleges that his psych-tech advocate at the hearing, Ms. Brady, improperly "proceeded with the hearing knowing that [Plaintiff] wanted to be present, " and that Ms. McLean, the psych-tech coordinator, "should have suspended proceedings until [Plaintiff] could have been present...." ( Id. at 6). Even though "only one side of the information" was presented at the hearing, Drs. Knowlton, Reiner and Fennel determined that the criteria for involuntary medication had been met and authorized administration of Haldol for two weeks, to August 24, 2012. ( Id. at 6 & 11).

A follow up hearing was held on August 23, 2012, which Plaintiff attended, this time represented by Ms. McLean. ( Id. at 12). According to the hearing decision signed by Drs. Knowlton, Reiner, and a third doctor not named in the Complaint, Plaintiff claimed that he did not have a mental disorder and "appear[ed] to want to negotiate his own med regimen." (Id.). This new panel confirmed that the criteria for involuntary medication had been met and authorized the continued administration of Haldol to February 18, 2013. (Id.).

At some point, Plaintiff filed an administrative complaint challenging the involuntary administration of Haldol. ( Id. at 6). Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Cahill, chief medical director, and Ms. Person, executive director, "failed to take action" upon receipt of Plaintiff's complaint and that due to their "non-assistance, " Plaintiff continued to be given Haldol. (Id.).

Plaintiff then sought assistance from the California Office of Patients' Rights, Department of State Hospitals, Atascadero. ( Id. at 24). According to a Memorandum dated September 12, 2012 and directed to Dr. Cahill, the Patients' Rights Advocates assigned to Plaintiff's case expressed concern that Plaintiff's "involuntary medication order may not be legally supported" for several reasons. ( Id. at 30). The Advocates emphasized in particular that Plaintiff was not present at the first hearing, despite his wish to participate, and was therefore deprived of the opportunity "to present evidence, to question persons presenting evidence, or to present his own witnesses." ( Id. at 27). The Advocates further expressed concern that the second hearing focused on different "elements" than the first, was not comprised of the same panel, and was held on insufficient notice, in violation of Title 9 of the California Code of Regulations section 4210. ( Id. at 28).

Plaintiff broadly claims that Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment, Due Process, and Equal Protection rights. ( Id. at 6). Plaintiff states that he is "entitled to financial compensation for the cruel and unusual punishment of state authorities" forcing him to take drugs to which he was allergic and ...


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