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California

CA: Federal Court Denies State Hospital’s Motion to Dismiss

[ACSOL – 6/6/18]

A U.S. district court today denied a Motion to Dismiss filed by Coalinga State Hospital. Because of the denial, a lawsuit filed on behalf of two patients at that hospital will continue.

“Today’s decision is a significant victory for hundreds of registrants who are also patients at Coalinga State Hospital,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci. “The claims of the plaintiffs regarding retaliation for the exercise of their First Amendment rights are similar to claims that could have been made by many others.”

In today’s decision, the court reluctantly agreed that plaintiffs provided “sufficient factual allegations” to survive the government’s motion to dismiss. The allegations include actions taken by the hospital after the patients successfully defeated an attempt by the City of Coalinga to increase the local sales tax paid by patients at the hospital. The actions at issue include removal of posters encouraging patients to vote against the sales tax increase and discouraging patients to vote.

The election that included the proposed sales tax increase took place in November 2017. The hospital allegedly retaliated less than two months later by issuing emergency regulations that prohibited patients from possession of electronics, including electronic storage devices on which legal documents and treatment records had been stored.

Subsequent to issuance of the emergency regulations, the hospital was placed on lock down for about two months. During that period of time, patients were confined to their units and not allowed visitors. Also during that period of time, patients’ access to attorneys was significantly limited.

The court’s decision also addressed the issue of whether patients at Coalinga have a right to possess computers and other electronics. The hospital’s emergency regulation proclaimed that patients could not possess computers and other electronics despite the fact that possession of these devices has been allowed more about 10 years. The plaintiffs in this case notified the court that, due to the regulations at issue, prisoners have a greater access to electronics than do patients. They cited case law which clearly states that patients are not prisoners and therefore patients must be provided greater rights than prisoners.

Due to the court’s ruling, the patients’ challenge to the emergency regulations based upon both the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution will continue. Plaintiffs are expected to begin discovery in order to identify specific retaliatory acts taken by the hospital.

CA – Federal Court Denies State Hospital’s Motion to Dismiss 6-6-2018 [PDF download]

 

Join the discussion

  1. Eric

    Thank you very much for your good work

  2. David

    Awesome!! Great work, Janice!! 👍

  3. CR

    “In today’s decision, the court reluctantly agreed …”

    How was the court’s reluctance demonstrated?

    • Janice Bellucci

      @CR – The judge’s reluctance to deny the Motion to Dismiss could be observed in the courtroom when the attorneys argued the case as well as in the warning on page 8 of the judge’s decision that sanctions against the plaintiffs as well as their attorney may be forthcoming in the future.

      • David Kennerly, The Government-Driven Life

        I read his ruling and don’t pin a lot of hope on this judge. He’s pretty contemptuous of Detainees and is just itching to rule against them from my observations of him, so far. Unrelated to this case, I learned from Mike St. Martin this evening that the law changed five or so years ago so that parole now tolls while they are in CSH so that anyone landing in CSH after then, having not already served all of their parole inside CSH, still has to face parole IF they are so lucky as to ever get out. That really pissed me off. These guys really can’t seem to catch a break. With your help, I hope this gets turned around.

        • AJ

          @David Kennerly:
          parole now tolls while they are in CSH
          —–
          That smacks of an Equal Protection issue, a right which is not reduced while on supervision. Given civil commitment is not considered incarceration, I wonder how this can be legal. Blatantly disparate treatment between similarly situated individuals when one goes to CSH and the other not, after release.

      • CR

        Thanks, Janice. He does seem dismissive of the complaint. His mention of sanctions was unnecessary, and comes across as a threat. At lest he did the legally correct thing by denying the state’s motion to dismiss. Hopefully he will have the integrity to oversee a fair trial without letting his personal opinions get in the way.

  4. Biol57

    Well done, Janice!

  5. C

    Wonderful job, Janice. Thank you for all the work you do.

    Thankfully I’ve never been near this place, but somehow, everytime it’s mentioned, I imagine it being run by the small-minded likes of Dr. Chilton and Nurse Ratched.

  6. totally against public registry

    Janice, I am so happy we have you on our side. I can’t begin to tell you how unconstitutional I think this place is- incarcerating people for things they haven’t done.

    It’s kind of ironic that I just asked my son last week about his parole time- we were told by public defender that parole is running while he is at coalinga. Is this really true that parole won’t start until he gets out? That is really wrong!

    Thanks, Janice for all that you do and care about all citizens on the registry. You are an angel

  7. mike r

    Man this must be a beautifully argued case just by the decisions language. Great job Janice and Team. See this is how the registry needs to be attacked. I love how our judicial processes work, as long as you stand on firm footings in your pleadings judges are bound in many cases by the constitution that is unambiguous so they have to bow down. I love it. Keep hitting wherever it hurts and go in no holds barred. Hopefully this will be coming in my case soon as well.

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