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Fair Oaks Hospital v. Susan L. Pocrass

628 A.2d 829 (1993)

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Fair Oaks Hospital v. Susan L. Pocrass

New Jersey Superior Court

628 A.2d 829 (1993)

Facts

In 1989, Susan Pocrass’s (plaintiff) husband spoke with Dr. Ciolino, who maintained an office at Fair Oaks Hospital (the hospital) (defendant), about Susan’s obsessive cleaning and fear of contamination. Dr. Ciolino met with Susan twice and diagnosed her with obsessive compulsive disorder. Susan refused further treatment. Susan’s husband later contacted Dr. Ciolino, stating that Susan’s condition had deteriorated. After Susan cancelled a follow-up appointment, Dr. Ciolino went to Susan’s house with police to determine whether she should be civilly committed. After observing Susan and the condition of the home, Dr. Ciolino signed a certification that Susan was suffering from mental illness and a danger to herself. At Dr. Ciolino’s order, the police strapped Susan to a stretcher and took her against her will in an ambulance to the hospital. Another doctor at the hospital attempted to examine Susan, but she refused and the second doctor signed a certification that Susan posed a danger. Later that day, after Susan’s admission to the hospital, a judge entered an order for Susan’s temporary commitment. Sixteen days later, a commitment hearing was held in which the court found Susan to be a danger and ordered her additional commitment for 14 days. At a subsequent hearing 12 days later, a judge found that Susan was no longer a danger and ordered her release. Susan sued the hospital, arguing that Dr. Ciolino falsely imprisoned her and committed medical malpractice by negligently failing to comply with the commitment statute.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Menza, J.)

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