Michael L. Rosenfield, Pittsburgh, David Ferleger, Philadelphia, for appellant.
John Edward Wall, Wilbur McCoy Otto, Stewart M. Flam, John M. Duff, Wm. C. O'Toole, Pittsburgh, for appellee.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Jones, former C. J., did not participate in the decision of this case.
This is an appeal from a decree of the Orphans' Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County dismissing appellant's exceptions to an earlier decree denying appellant's petition for injunctive relief.*fn1 The lower court's dismissal of exceptions was based upon its holding that the legal issue upon which appellant based his prayer for injunctive relief had been rendered moot. Because we also conclude that the issue is moot, for the reasons set forth herein, we affirm the decree.
The material facts, as found in the record and stipulation of facts by counsel for the parties, are as follow: On or about March 24, 1974, appellant, then age 18, was involuntarily committed to Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (W.P.I.C.), appellee, pursuant to the then applicable involuntary civil commitment provisions of Section 406 of the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Act of 1966 (Mental
Health Act).*fn2 Act of October 20, 1966, Special Sess. No. 3, P.L. 96, art. IV, § 406, 50 P.S. § 4406 (1969). Appellant remained in treatment at W.P.I.C. until June 19, 1974, at which time he was released.*fn3 On February 28, 1975, appellant, then age 19, was again involuntarily committed to W.P.I.C. under the provisions of Section 406 of the Mental Health Act.
On both occasions appellant was diagnosed as suffering from an acute paranoid schizophrenic psychosis. During his periods of treatment as an inpatient at W.P.I.C., appellant was administered an anti-psychotic, psychotropic tranquilizer called trilafon and a second medication, cogentin, designed to mitigate certain side-effects of the trilafon. On numerous occasions appellant indicated to W.P.I.C. staff
members that he did not wish to take the medication. On these occasions appellant was informed by W.P.I.C. staff members that the physicians in charge of his treatment had the authority to compel him to take the medication and that if he did not take the medication orally, the usual method of administration, it would be administered via intramuscular injection. According to the stipulation of facts, only once was appellant given the medication by injection. Appellant later complained of blurred vision, inability to read without magnifying glasses, dryness of the mouth, and tremors, all of which appellant attributed to the medication.*fn4 The parties agreed that the use of the medications in question was, in the judgment of the W.P.I.C. physicians, the best medically indicated treatment and the most generally accepted method of treatment, although not the only acceptable method.
On May 1, 1975, appellant, while still an inpatient at W.P.I.C., filed a petition for injunctive relief in the Orphans' Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County seeking to restrain W.P.I.C. from administering medication against his will. The petition was denied on the same date, but the court granted appellant leave to amend the petition, which he did on the following day, alleging in the amended petition that Section 417 of the Mental Health Act,*fn5 upon which W.P.I.C. relies for its authority to administer
the medication, was unconstitutional. In a decree nisi dated May 2, 1975, the lower court dismissed appellant's amended petition for injunctive relief.*fn6 Appellant, on May 2, 1975, filed exceptions to this dismissal. On May 28, 1975, appellant was released from W.P.I.C.*fn7 After oral argument on June 2, 1975, the lower court en banc, in an opinion dated August 25, 1975, dismissed appellant's exceptions, holding that appellant's release from W.P.I.C. rendered the underlying issue moot. On appeal to this Court, appellant, in addition to contending that the questions presented are not moot, claims that Section 417 is overly broad and thus violative of due process and further asserts that involuntarily committed mental patients have a common law right to refuse treatments, which right cannot, in ...