Sunday, January 4, 2015

Lawsuit: Guns seized after veteran, decorated cop seeks treatment for insomnia


Veteran files lawsuit after New York confiscates guns for treatment of insomnia.
Veteran files lawsuit after New York confiscates guns for treatment of insomnia.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Donald Montgomery, a decorated retired police detective who served in the United States Navy, says in a lawsuit that his pistol permit and four handguns were seized by authorities inNew York after he sought medical treatment for insomnia, the Daily Caller reported Friday. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who once said conservatives who oppose gun control aren't welcome in his state, and several other state officials are named as defendants in the lawsuit filed on December 18.

According to Mongomery's lawsuit, the State of New York violated his Constitutional rights under the Second, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments when it enforced the gun control law known as the SAFE Act — a measure Cuomo signed in January 2013. The lawsuit also says the state has "amassed the confidential, personal health information of tens of thousands of people into a database shared by various State agencies." Worse yet, the lawsuit adds, agencies have "carte blanche access" to the information in that database.

Montgomery’s problems began in early May, when he sought treatment from his primary care physician for insomnia, a condition he said started after moving from another state. Several days after that visit, he went to the emergency room at Eastern Long Island Hospital, still suffering from insomnia.

He was diagnosed with “Depression; Insomnia,” given medication and told to see his doctor if his symptoms got worse. On May 23, he went back to the hospital, still suffering from insomnia, where he stayed for 48 hours.

Montgomery was not forced to go to the hospital, but, the lawsuit adds, hospital staffers erroneously claimed he was involuntarily admitted. That, Chuck Ross said, "appears to have put the SAFE Act’s wheels in motion."

The SAFE Act, Ross explained, added a section under New York’s Mental Hygiene Law that requires mental health professionals to report individuals deemed threats to others or to themselves to mental health directors who in turn report serious threats to the department of criminal justice services. But there's only one problem, the suit notes. None of the hospital records support that criteria.

"Patient has no thoughts of hurting himself. Patient has no thoughts of hurting others," so-called "nurse's notes" say. "Patient is not having suicidal thoughts. Patient is not having homicidal thoughts.”

A psychological assessment said Montgomery was "mildly depressed." But, the assessment said, “there is no evidence of any psychotic processes, mania, or OCD symptoms.”

"Insight, judgment, and impulse control are good,” the assessment added. 

Montgomery also claimed a hospital psychiatrist told him, “You don’t belong here” and, “I don’t know why you were referred here.” Nevertheless, his records were referred to the Mental Hygiene Legal Service, and things only got worse.

A few days after leaving the hospital, state police sent a letter to the Suffolk County clerk’s office saying Montgomery “has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution." Moreover, the letter said Montgomery was prohibited from possessing any firearms.

On May 30, Montgomery said, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department confiscated his weapons, one of which was awarded to him for being the top recruit in his police academy class. Shortly thereafter, his permit was suspended and permanently revoked in September, making it illegal for him to own a firearm. In short, Montgomery's Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms was stripped from him over a false claim.

The 56-page lawsuit demands a judge strike down New York’s Mental Hygiene Law, while ordering the state to issue written notification to all individuals whose health information has been collected under the state law. The lawsuit, known as Montgomery v. Cuomo, also seeks monetary damages and other relief as the judge sees fit.


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