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Argoe v. Three Rivers Behavioral Health, LLC

Court of Appeals of South Carolina

April 5, 2017

Martha Lewin Argoe, Appellant,
v.
Three Rivers Behavioral Health, LLC and Psychiatric Solutions, Inc., its successor; Phyllis Bryant-Mobley, MD; David A. Steiner, MD; Cheryl C. Dodds, MD; Doris Ann Burrell, RN and the Carolina Care Plan, Respondents. Appellate Case No. 2014-001511

          Heard November 3, 2016

         Appeal From Lexington County William P. Keesley, Circuit Court Judge

          Robert Daniel Dodson, of Law Offices of Robert Dodson, PA, of Columbia, for Appellant.

          William H. Davidson, II and Andrew F. Lindemann, both of Davidson & Lindemann, PA, of Columbia, for Respondent Phillis Bryan-Mobley, MD.

          James E. Parham, Jr., of James E. Parham, Jr., PA, of Irmo; and Sarah Patrick Spruill, Kenneth Norman Shaw, and J. Ben Alexander, all of Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, PA, of Greenville, for Respondent Cheryl C. Dodds, MD. Mary Agnes Hood Craig and Elloree A. Ganes, both of Hood Law Firm, LLC, of Charleston; and Deborah Harrison Sheffield, of Charleston, for Respondent David A. Steiner, MD.

          Andrew N. Cole and Christian Stegmaier, both of Collins & Lacy, PC, of Columbia, for Respondents Three Rivers Behavioral Health, LLC and Psychiatric Solutions, Inc., its successor, and Doris Ann Burrell, RN.

          LOCKEMY, C.J.

         In this medical malpractice action, Martha Lewin Argoe asserts the circuit court erred in granting all respondents partial summary judgment. We affirm.

         FACTS

         Our supreme court detailed the facts of this case in its decision in Argoe v. Three Rivers Behavioral Health, LLC (Argoe II). 392 S.C. 462, 710 S.E.2d 67 (2011). Argoe's husband and son filed an application for Involuntary Emergency Hospitalization for Mental Illness with the Orangeburg County Probate Court on June 6, 2005. Id. at 466, 710 S.E.2d at 69. Argoe asserted her husband and son filed the application as part of a "plan and scheme to have [her] committed to an inpatient psychiatric facility so that [they] would eventually be able to have access to her money, bank accounts and other material assets and could convert those things for [their] own use and benefit."

         The probate court in Orangeburg County issued an Order of Detention directing "[an] officer of the peace take [Argoe] into custody for a period of [time], during which detention said person shall be examined by a licensed physician." On June 7, 2005, the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Department detained Argoe and committed her to the care and custody of the Regional Medical Center of Orangeburg. She was initially examined by Dr. Glen Hooker. Dr. Hooker discharged Argoe with a diagnosis of "Altered Mental Status" with instructions to return the following day. Id.

         The following day, Dr. Hooker completed the necessary paperwork for Argoe's emergency commitment. Id. at 466, 710 S.E.2d at 70. "Dr. Hooker certified that inpatient psychiatric hospitalization was medically necessary for [Argoe] and identified Aurora Pavilion Behavioral Health Services (Aurora) . . . as the facility that would accept [Argoe] for further treatment." Id. at 466-67, 710 S.E.2d at 70. When she arrived at Aurora at 5:45 P.M. on June 8, 2005, Dr. David Steiner performed a second evaluation of Argoe's mental condition.

         On June 9, 2005, Argoe's insurance provider caused her to be transferred to Three Rivers Behavioral Health. Dr. Phyllis Bryant-Mobley performed Argoe's initial evaluation at Three Rivers. "Based on her initial psychiatric evaluation . . . a provisional diagnosis was made that [Argoe] was suffering from bipolar disorder with manic and psychotic features." Id. at 467, 710 S.E.2d at 70.

         On June 13, 2005, the probate court issued an Order for Continued Hospitalization. Id. The probate court also appointed Dr. Bryant-Mobley and Doris Ann Burwell, a registered nurse, to act as Argoe's designated examiners and directed them to present their findings at a hearing on June 21, 2005. Id. The probate court notified Argoe of the scheduled hearing and appointed her an attorney. Id.

         On June 21, 2005, Dr. Bryant-Mobley and Nurse Burwell presented their findings to the probate court. Id. Argoe and her attorney participated in the hearing. Id. That day, the probate court issued an order finding that Argoe was "mentally ill." The probate court ordered that Argoe, "be committed to a state mental health facility for in-patient care and treatment as provided in [s]ection 44-17-580 [of the South Carolina Code], and following this, [t]hat said person undergo an out-patient treatment program at Orangeburg County mental health facility for a period not to exceed 12 months."

         "[Dr.] Bryant-Mobley provided care and treatment to Ms. Argoe at Three Rivers until June 27, 2005, when . . . Dr. Cheryl Dodds assumed Ms. Argoe's care" after Dr. Bryant-Mobley left for vacation. On July 8, 2005, the probate court appointed Dr. Dodds to examine Argoe to determine whether she needed a guardian or conservator. Id. at 468, 710 S.E.2d at 70. On July 20, 2005, Dr. Dodds discharged Argoe into the care of her son after she "consent[ed] to voluntarily take her prescribed medication."

         On June 13, 2007, Argoe filed suit against her husband and her son "as well as the hospitals, physicians, and nurses involved in the involuntary commitment proceedings." Id. Argoe asserted causes of action against Three Rivers for intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, conspiracy, defamation, invasion of privacy, and public disclosure of a private fact. Id. The circuit court granted Three Rivers ...


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