May 282019
 May 28, 2019  Posted by  Court, Govt, Healthcare

I’m not sure I understand the court’s reasoning here. Or maybe I do understand but do not necessarily agree with it?  Via, their summary:

There is no reasonable expectation of privacy in the cell or room of person under civil commitment. It’s not a jail and there are limited constitutional protections inside. Leonard v. Coalinga State Hosp., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88170 (E.D. Cal. May 24, 2019):

Hall then quotes from the opinion:

The contours of an involuntarily confined civil detainee’s right to privacy in his room in a secure treatment facility are unclear, but assuming Plaintiff retains any reasonable expectation of privacy at all in his living area at Coalinga State Hospital, it would necessarily be of a diminished scope given Plaintiff’s civil confinement. Houx, 2015 WL 4138967 at *4; see Bell, 441 U.S. at 556-57 (discussing detainee’s expectation of privacy in cell or room at detention facility); see also Pesci v. Budz, No. 2:12-cv-227-FtM-29SPC, 2012 WL 4856746, at *6 (M.D. Fla. Oct. 12, 2012) (civil detainee did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in his dormitory); Rainwater v. Bell, No. 2:10-cv-1727 GGH P, 2012 WL 3276966, at *11 (E.D. Cal. Aug. 9, 2012) (finding, on summary judgment, that civil detainee did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in his jail cell); Pyron v. Ludeman, Nos. 10-3759 (PJS/JJG), 10-4236 (PJS/JJG), 2011 WL 3293523, at *6 (D. Minn. Jun. 6, 2011) (finding motion to dismiss should be granted because a search of a civil detainee’s personal items in his cell does not violate the Fourth Amendment), report and recommendation adopted in full, 2012 WL 1597305 (D. Minn. Jul. 29, 2011); Riley v. Doyle, No. 06-C-574-C, 2006 WL 2947453, at *5 (W.D. Wis. Oct. 16, 2006) (civil detainee denied leave to proceed on Fourth Amendment claim arising out of repeated contraband searches because there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in avoiding routine cell inspections and searches); but see Hoch v. Tarkenton, No. 1:10-cv-02258-DLB PC, 2013 WL 1004847, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 13, 2013) (finding cognizable Fourth Amendment claim arising from contraband search of civil detainee’s hospital room); Stearns v. Stoddard, No. C11-5422-BHS-JRC, 2012 WL 1596965, at *3 (W.D. Wash. Apr. 11, 2012) (recognizing that whether a civil detainee housed in a secure facility has any expectation of privacy in his room is an open question and finding entitlement to summary judgment on Fourth Amendment claim based on qualified immunity), report and recommendation adopted in full, 2012 WL 1597305 (W.D. Wash. May 7, 2012).

The court is looking at the possible Fourth Amendment issue. But what about a patient’s expectation of privacy in a hospital room or treatment facility? Shouldn’t the fact that it is an involuntary commitment heighten the need for privacy protections for a more vulnerable person than reduce them?

Something just doesn’t feel right about this whole opinion, but I understand that “feelz” are not the basis for an appeal. 🙂

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