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Fischer v. Hill

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia, Elkins

April 25, 2017

ELKINS DOUGLAS OTTO FISCHER, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. CHERYL HILL, DR. ABDEL MASSOUD, Chief Medical Officer, William R. Sharpe, Jr. Hospital, and KIMBERLY WALSH, Former Interim Chief Executive Officer, William R. Sharpe, Jr. Hospital, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS COMPLAINT

          JOHN PRESTON BAILEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before this Court is Defendant Kimberly Walsh's Motion to Dismiss [Doc. 13] and Defendants, Cheryl Hill, M.D., Ph.D.'s and Abdel Massoud, M.D.'s Motion to Dismiss Complaint [Doc. 15], both filed on January 23, 2017. The plaintiff filed his Combined Response Opposing Defendants' Motions to Dismiss [Doc. 18] on February 3, 2017. The defendants filed their respective Reply briefs [Docs. 20, 21] on February 10, 2017. This matter is now ripe for adjudication. For the reasons that follow, this Court GRANTS the defendants' Motions to Dismiss [Docs. 13, 15].

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed this action in this Court on October 25, 2016, asserting federal question jurisdiction for claims brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [Doc. 1 at ¶ 2]. Plaintiff Douglas Otto Fischer (“Fischer”) brings this action following his alleged unlawful confinement in the William R. Sharpe, Jr. Hospital (“Sharpe Hospital”). [Id. at ¶ 3]. Sharpe Hospital operates under the direction and control of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (“WVDHHR”), and is vested with treating individuals found not guilty of criminal charges by reason of mental illness pursuant to W.Va. Code § 27-6A-3. [Id. at ¶ 7].

         Defendant Dr. Cheryl Hill (“Dr. Hill”) was retained as a consulting psychiatrist by Sharpe Hospital. [Id. at ¶ 8]. Defendant Dr. Abdel Massoud (“Dr. Massoud”), was the Clinical Director of Sharpe Hospital at all relevant times [Id. at ¶ 9]. Defendant Kimberly Walsh (“Walsh”) is the former Interim CEO of Sharpe Hospital. [Id. at ¶ 10]. All three are being sued in their individual capacity. [Id.].

         On April 10, 2015, Fischer entered a plea of not guilty by reason of mental illness in the Circuit Court of Harrison County, West Virginia, to two felony charges and one misdemeanor charge following an incident at his home. [Id. at ¶ 15]. Plaintiff was sentenced to be committed to Sharpe Hospital in order to undergo a Forensic Psychiatry Evaluation pursuant to W.Va. Code § 27-6A-4. [Id. at ¶¶ 15, 17]. Plaintiff self-reported to the Hospital on May 14, 2015, and Dr. Hill completed her Forensic Evaluation Dangerousness Report (“the Report”) on June 16, 2015. [Id. at ¶¶ 16-17]. Dr. Hill's Report found that at the time of the incident leading to his arrest, plaintiff was acutely psychotic with hallucinations and delusions, and that these symptoms were attributable solely to a side effect of a medication. [Id. at ¶ 18]. The Report further indicated that the plaintiff was psychiatrically stable, with no concerning behaviors, no additional episodes of hallucinations since April 1, 2014, and that the side-effect had completely resolved. [Id. at ¶¶ 19, 20]. As a result, Dr. Hill recommended the plaintiff receive a “step down” into a lower level of security at Sharpe Hospital. [Id. at ¶ 21].

         The Court held a hearing on July 27, 2015, at which Dr. Massoud adopted Dr. Hill's recommendation and reported the same to the Court. [Id. at ¶¶ 22, 27]. The same day, the Court ordered plaintiff's release, and he was released the next day, July 28, 2015. [Id. at ¶¶ 28-29].

         Based upon the above, the plaintiff alleges the following causes of action:

Count 1: Violation of the plaintiff's right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983;
Count 2: Violation of the plaintiff's right to liberty without due process under the Fourteenth Amendment, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983;
Count 3: Conversion of personal belongings deposited with the Hospital upon commitment;
Count 4: Trespass to Chattels;
Count 5: Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress; and
Count 6: Reckless Infliction of Emotional Distress.

         On January 23, 2017, the defendants filed the instant Motions to Dismiss [Docs. 13, 15], arguing that the plaintiff did not plead sufficient facts to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and that ...


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