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GOLDY v. BEAL

July 8, 1976

Clifford GOLDY, an incompetent by Robert B. Elion, Esq., his guardian ad litem, et al.,
v.
Frank BEAL, Individually and as Secretary of Public Welfare of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: NEALON

 NEALON, District Judge.

 Plaintiffs, inmates at Danville State Hospital in Danville, Pennsylvania, seek declaratory and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged violations of their civil rights resulting from the operation of section 406 of the Pennsylvania Mental Health and Mental Retardation Act of 1966 (the Act), 50 P.S. § 4406 (section 406), which permits the involuntary and indefinite commitment of persons "in need of care and treatment" because of their "mental disability." *fn1" Plaintiffs seek to maintain this suit as a class action pursuant to Rule 23(b)(2), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, on behalf of all persons who are or may be involuntarily confined to state mental facilities pursuant to section 406. They contend that the term "mental disability," as defined in the Act, is vague and overbroad in violation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. *fn2"

 On the basis of the stipulation submitted by counsel, the following relevant facts appear. Plaintiff Clifford Goldy is seventy-three years of age. He is a resident of Williamsport, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania and is a citizen of the United States. Goldy is presently involuntarily confined to Danville State Hospital and has been since November 14, 1968.

 Plaintiff Madelyn Maietta is forty years of age. She is a resident of Williamsport, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania and is a citizen of the United States. She is presently confined to Danville State Hospital and has been since July 3, 1972, released only for occasional trial visits with relatives.

 Plaintiff Fred Fogle is twenty-seven years of age. He is a resident of Sunbury, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania and is a citizen of the United States. He is presently involuntarily confined to Danville State Hospital and has been since January 24, 1975.

 Plaintiff Scott Wagner is twenty years of age. He is a resident of Mifflinburg, Union County, Pennsylvania and is a citizen of the United States. He is presently involuntarily confined to Danville State Hospital and has been since March 3, 1974, interrupted only by a trial visit from July 18, 1974 to February 14, 1975. *fn3"

 All named plaintiffs have been committed to Danville State Hospital into locked wards against their will. They have been committed by defendants or under their directions pursuant to section 406 of the Act, after a hearing and finding that they were "mentally ill."

 Defendant Frank Beal is Secretary, Department of Public Welfare, Pennsylvania. He is charged, under 71 P.S. § 66, with responsibility for exercising the powers and performing the duties vested in and imposed by law on the Department of Public Welfare, including supervision of mental institutions.

 Defendant Robert Gatski, M.D. is Superintendent of the Danville State Hospital, Danville, Pennsylvania and is charged with the administration and supervision of that institution. Gatski or his assistant is responsible for receiving all patients committed under section 406 of the Act.

 Defendant Judge Charles F. Greevy is President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, in which capacity he committed plaintiff Clifford Goldy on September 1, 1971 and plaintiff Madelyn Maietta on July 3, 1972 to Danville State Hospital against their will by authority of section 406 of the Act.

 Defendant Judge Michael Kivko is Judge of the Northumberland County Court of Common Pleas, in which capacity he committed plaintiff Fred Fogle on January 24, 1975, to Danville State Hospital against his will by authority of section 406 of the Act.

 Defendant Judge Thomas Wilson is Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Union County, Pennsylvania, in which capacity he committed plaintiff Scott Wagner on March 13, 1974, to Danville State Hospital against plaintiff's will by authority of section 406 of the Act.

 Goldy

 Plaintiff Goldy has been a patient at Danville State Hospital on four separate occasions. Each commitment has been involuntary, always at the insistence of someone else that institutionalization was in Goldy's best interest.

 Goldy, an established lumber dealer, was first committed to Danville State Hospital on March 8, 1961 on two physicians' certificates pursuant to a statute which has since been repealed by the Pennsylvania Mental Health and Mental Retardation Act of 1966. He was unconditionally discharged on May 27, 1961.

 On August 27, 1964, Goldy was involuntarily committed to Danville State Hospital after a court-appointed commission found Goldy showed "increased psychomotor activity, was easily angered -- lacked insight and reasoning ability." Goldy was discharged after four and one-half months on January 19, 1965.

 On November 14, 1968, Goldy was committed to Danville State Hospital for a third time, by means of a "physicians certificate" authorized under section 404 of the Act which was subsequently declared unconstitutional. Dixon v. Attorney General of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 325 F. Supp. 966 (M.D.Pa.1971).

 On July 7, 1971, to comply with Dixon, Danville State Hospital changed Goldy's commitment from a section 404 to a Voluntary Admission under section 402 of the Act.

 On or about August 10, 1971, Goldy expressed his desire to leave Danville, feeling he no longer needed care and treatment and that he could exist in his home environment without problem. Under section 402, it was his right to leave anytime. Plaintiff Goldy had done nothing to endanger himself or others while in the institution or on his frequent visits home, and his records show he was a cooperative patient.

 Despite Goldy's improved condition, on August 18, 1971, David Goldy, the plaintiff's son, petitioned the Lycoming County Court of Common Pleas to commit Goldy against his will on the grounds that his father's "attending psychiatrist has indicated that he is not mentally competent enough to live in a non-supervised society, and based on my association with him, I agree with the psychiatrist."

 Goldy has shown no dangerous behavior in the hospital or on home visits. His only questioned behavior was to "bother" and "irritate" his family on home visits by talking about new plans for his business.

 On September 1, 1971, the two physicians who examined Plaintiff Goldy, against his will, reported to the Court pursuant to section 406 that plaintiff was mentally ill and in need of care and treatment. Their examination revealed nothing to indicate plaintiff would harm himself or others, but only that plaintiff "has remained in a ...


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