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In re Mental Health of Derrick Cole

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

December 27, 2019


          On Appeal from the 20th Judicial District Court Parish of East Feliciana, State of Louisiana No. 983157 The Honorable William G. Carmichael, Judge Presiding

          Laura Picard Pineville, Louisiana and Henry Allyn Sale Shreveport, Louisiana Attorneys for Appellant, Derrick Cole

          Stephanie M. Borghardt Neal R. Elliott Jr. Baton Rouge, Louisiana Attorneys for Appellee, Louisiana Department of Health, Office of Behavioral Health


          CRAIN, J.

         Derrick Cole appeals the trial court's April 5, 2019 judgment ordering his commitment to the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH). We affirm.


         On August 20, 2018, the assistant clinical director for the Eastern Louisiana Mental Health System (ELMHS) filed a petition seeking Cole's judicial commitment. The petition alleged Cole was a resident of ELMHS and required further treatment due to mental illness. The trial court signed a judgment September 7, 2018, committing Cole to LDH's custody for a period not to exceed one hundred eighty days. Cole appealed and this court affirmed the judgment. See Matter of Commitment of Cole, 18-1760 (La.App. 1 Cir. 4/17/19), 276 So.3d 601.

         This court set forth the following pertinent factual and procedural history relative to the proceedings:

At the time the commitment proceeding was filed, Cole was a twenty-nine-year-old male with a history of bipolar disorder, intermittent explosive disorder, and an intellectual disability. For approximately seven years, beginning January 21, 2010, Cole resided at Pinecrest Supports and Services in Pineville, Louisiana (Pinecrest), but the facility was no longer able to control his behavior. On March 31, 2017, he was admitted to Central State Hospital (Central) for stabilization. While at Central, Cole exhibited aggressive behavior toward the staff and was extremely impulsive, resulting in the facility's medical director filing a petition for judicial commitment on May 18, 2017, in the 9th Judicial District Court for Rapides Parish, Docket No. 5762 (9th JDC action). Cole remained at Central for approximately a year before he was discharged to a less restrictive environment.
It is unclear from the record whether the less restrictive environment in which Cole was placed was a group home or his own apartment with support staff, as the record contains evidence as to both living arrangements. It is clear that pursuant to the Developmental Disability Law, [Louisiana Revised Statutes] 28:451.1-455.2, Heaven On Earth Network, Inc. (Heaven On Earth) provided Cole support in the less restrictive environment. Heaven On Earth eventually became unable to assist Cole due to his behavior. Cole exhibited aggressive and violent behavior, made threatening statements, and the police had to be called on several occasions. There was also evidence that Cole ran away, was involved in fights, became suicidal, drank chemicals, and threatened Heaven On Earth's staff. By correspondence dated July 12, 2018, Heaven On Earth notified Cole that it could no longer be his provider due to his aggressive and violent behavior and that the last date it would provide services would be August 9, 2018. The plan coordinator, Medical Resource and Guidance, was also informed of this decision. Cole was further instructed of his right to appeal the decision. Medical Resource and Guidance attempted to find Cole another provider, but was unsuccessful.
Cole testified that after an altercation with the Heaven On Earth staff, the police were called and took him to Lake Charles Memorial Hospital (Lake Charles Memorial). Cole was subsequently admitted to Lake Charles Memorial pursuant to a Physician's Emergency Certificate (PEC) dated August 10, 2018, and a Coroner's Emergency Certificate (CEC) dated August 11, 2018, for refusing to take his medications, as well as hostility and homicidal threats to the group home staff. On August 17, 2018, Lake Charles Memorial requested that Cole be admitted to [ELMHS]. Cole was admitted to ELMHS pursuant to a PEC dated August 17, 2018, signed by Dr. Muhummad Ahmed, a board certified psychiatrist who treated Cole at ELMHS. Dr. Ahmed testified that Lake Charles Memorial's employees could not control Cole's behavior, noting in the PEC that Cole had a history of bipolar disorder, intermittent explosive disorder, and intellectual disability. A CEC was signed on August 18, 2018. On August 20, 2018, the assistant clinical director of ELMHS filed the current petition for judicial commitment in the 20th Judicial District Court, Parish of East Feliciana (20th JDC action).
Dr. Ahmed testified that when Cole arrived at ELMHS, he was extremely irritated and having paranoid and suicidal thoughts. Dr. Ahmed noted that Cole had a long history of bipolar disorder and cognitive impairment. Because of the violent and threatening statements Cole made while at the group home, at Lake Charles Memorial, and to Dr. Ahmed, Cole was assigned someone to be arms-length from him at all times. Cole eventually improved to the point that he only needed continuous visual observation, but he continued to act out and was involved in several fights. Dr. Ahmed reduced the continuous visual observation when Cole agreed not to act out. However, Dr. Ahmed testified that Cole remained impulsive and violent.
Dr. Ahmed further testified that bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness and that Cole is a danger to himself and others and is gravely disabled. Cole also suffers from cognitive impairment. Dr. Ahmed believed that Cole's violent, impulsive behaviors would continue and that ...

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