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Appellate court upholds man's detainment

February 16, 2012

The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected a man’s argument that he could not have been detained in the hospital for mental health reasons before an application for detention was filed, which occurred after facility security guards restrained him.

In Raymond Dale Berryhill v. Parkview Hospital, No. 02A04-1108-SC-400, Raymond Berryhill challenged the ruling in favor of Parkview Hospital granting the facility immunity in Berryhill’s suit for false imprisonment. Berryhill and his wife, Kay, had a fight in which Berryhill became violent. She called 911, but he refused to go to the hospital. Berryhill’s wife wanted him to be examined because his head hurt, and he had history of a stroke and brain surgery.

Eventually Berryhill went to the hospital, and while in the emergency room he became loud and aggressive. Berryhill’s physician ordered he be secured and sedated. Two Parkview security guards tried to calm him down, but Berryhill resisted and asked to go home. The guards escorted him to the secured room and put him in restraints. After this incident, Berryhill’s wife filed an application for him to be detained and examined.

Berryhill sued, arguing that the security guards’ actions constituted false imprisonment. The trial court ruled Parkview was immune from liability based on a statute that covers people who assist in detentions. On appeal, Berryhill claimed that the immunity statute doesn’t apply because he wasn’t detained for purposes of the statute until after his wife filed the application for detention.

“We cannot conclude that the legislature intended to leave healthcare facilities and their employees powerless to detain individuals who are mentally ill and either dangerous or gravely disabled before an application for detention is filed. As such, without deciding precisely when Berryhill was detained for purposes of Indiana Code Section 12-26-5-1, we conclude that the security guards “act[ed] according to” Indiana Code Article 12-26, which governs the voluntary and involuntary treatment of mentally ill individuals …,” wrote Judge Terry Crone.

There is no evidence the guards acted with malice, bad faith or negligence, so Parkview is entitled to immunity on the false imprisonment claim, the COA ruled.

 

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