ARTHUR MCARDLE, KIMBERLY MCARDLE, SELDON JONES, JACOB MCARDLE, HANNAH MCARDLE, BANNING MCARDLE, and FREDERICK S. BARBOUR as Guardian ad Litem for SOPHIE MCARDLE, Plaintiffs,
MISSION HOSPITAL, INC. and MISSION HEALTH SYSTEM, INC., Defendants.
in the Court of Appeals 29 November 2016.
by Plaintiffs from Order entered 21 January 2016 by Judge
William H. Coward in Buncombe County, 14 CVS 5473 Superior
Twiggs, Strickland & Rabenau, by Donald R. Strickland,
Karen M. Rabenau, and Katherine A. King, for
Roberts & Stevens, P.A., by Phillip T. Jackson and Eric
P. Edgerton, and Patla, Straus, Robinson & Moore, P.A.,
by Richard S. Daniels, for Defendants-Appellees.
is a natural feeling . . . that hurries us without reflection
to the relief of those who are in distress: it is this which
in a state of nature supplies the place of laws, morals and
virtues . . . . [T]he origin of society and law . . .
irretrievably destroyed natural liberty . . . and serve as a
substitute for natural compassion, which lost, when applied
to societies, almost all the influence it had over
individuals . . . . The people having in respect of their
social relations concentrated all their wills in one, . . .
becom[ing] so many fundamental laws, obligatory on all the
members of the State without exception, and one of these
articles regulates the choice and power of the magistrates
appointed to watch over the execution of the rest.
Rousseau, A Discourse on the Origin and Basis of
Inequality, in The Social Contract & Discourses
by Jean-Jacques Rousseau 155, 199-228 (G. D. H. Cole
trans., London, J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 1913)
"[E]very law is universal, and there are some things
about which it is not possible to speak rightly when speaking
Nicomachean Ethics 100 (Joe Sachs trans. 2002).
respondent in an involuntary commitment proceeding is
delivered to a hospital or other facility for an initial
examination to recommend whether commitment without the
respondent's consent is required, neither the examiner
nor the hospital or other facility obtains custody or a legal
right to control the respondent unless and until involuntary
commitment is recommended by the examiner. For this reason,
neither the examiner nor the facility owes a duty to third
parties for harm resulting from an examiner's
recommendation against involuntary commitment, even if the
examination failed to comply with statutory requirements.
and Kimberly McArdle and their five surviving children
(collectively "the McArdles") appeal a trial
court's order of 21 January 2016 denying their motion to
amend their complaint as futile and granting a motion to
dismiss by Mission Hospital, Inc. and Mission Health System,
Inc. (collectively "Defendants") on the basis that
Defendants owed the McArdles no legal duty. We affirm.
Background and Procedural History
McArdles' complaint and proposed amended complaint
include the following allegations:
McArdle ("Joshua"), now deceased, was diagnosed
with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after serving a
tour of duty in a hostile area of Iraq as a United States
Marine. He received an "Other than Honorable"
discharge from the Marine Corps in 2008 due to drug abuse,
which precluded him from receiving subsequent care through
the Veterans Administration (VA). After discharge, Joshua
received no mental health or substance abuse treatment. He
abused alcohol, cocaine, Percocet, and marijuana, experienced
extreme paranoia, and amassed a personal arsenal of weapons
McArdles and other family members, including Joshua, gathered
in Asheville, North Carolina in the days preceding the
planned wedding of Joshua's sister Seldon Jones
("Seldon"), née McArdle, on 11 May 2013.
During the pre-wedding gathering Joshua engaged in episodes
of violence on 7 and 8 May 2013, including: (1) choking his
brother Banning McArdle ("Banning") while Banning
was driving, after Banning refused to take Joshua to buy
drugs; (2) entering his brother Jacob McArdle's
("Jacob") house at night and awakening and beating
Jacob; and (3) attempting to break down the door of his
parents' house and again attacking Jacob. Joshua also
threatened to beat up his biological father when he arrived
in town for the wedding. During the altercation at the family
home on the morning of 8 May 2013, Seldon called 911.
Sheriff's deputies arrived at the home shortly after
the responding deputies suggested that, rather than having
Joshua arrested, the family should instead pursue involuntary
commitment. The McArdles all agreed on this course of action,
and Arthur McArdle executed an Affidavit and Petition for
Involuntary Commitment (the "Petition") before the
Buncombe County Assistant Clerk of Superior Court on the same
morning. Arthur's Petition sought involuntary commitment
of Joshua on the grounds that he was: (1) mentally ill and
dangerous to self or others and in need of treatment in order
to prevent further disability or deterioration that would
predictably result in dangerousness; and (2) a substance
abuser and dangerous to self or others.
Buncombe County Assistant Clerk of Superior Court issued a
Findings and Custody Order for Involuntary Commitment (the
"Custody Order") on 8 May 2013 finding reasonable
grounds to believe that the allegations in the Petition were
true and directing law enforcement officers to take Joshua
into custody for an initial examination ("First
Examination") as required by N.C. Gen. Stat.
§§ 122C-263 and 122C-283. The Buncombe County
Sheriff's Department took Joshua into custody and
delivered him to Mission Hospital at 1:45 p.m. on the same
approximately 3:30 p.m. on 8 May 2013, nursing staff in
Mission Hospital's Emergency Department noted initial
observations that Joshua appeared "Anxious" with
"Impaired Focus/Concentration" and that he
"Denies suicidal ideation/homicidal ideation at
present" and "Minimizes problem." At
approximately 4:25 p.m., Mission Hospital emergency medicine
physician James Roberson, M.D. ("Dr. Roberson")
referred Joshua to the hospital's psychiatric unit for
the required First Examination.
psychiatric unit at 4:40 p.m., a Patient/Family Services
Consult was performed by clinical social worker David Weiner,
who indicated in Joshua's hospital chart that:
[t]he patient is under community petition by his father. The
petition was due to a physical altercation with his brother
wherein the patient tried to strangle him. The patient denies
the severity of this altercation. The patient's family
reports that the patient is an ex-Marine and might be
struggling with PTSD. Patient to be assessed by next
on 8 May 2013, Dina Paul ("Paul"), a licensed
clinical social worker and employee of Defendants, conducted
an examination of Joshua. Paul interviewed Joshua and also
received statements from several family members, including
Arthur, Banning, and Jacob. Paul was apprised of Joshua's
alcohol and marijuana use, a drug screen testing positive for
cannabinoids, his "Other than Honorable" discharge
from the Marine Corps for drug abuse, his lack of current VA
benefits, and Joshua's acknowledgment of anger issues
since returning from Iraq and his desire for treatment for
PTSD. Paul wrote an Evaluation report to Dr. Roberson
recommending against inpatient commitment for Joshua.
Paul's report ...