The CNMI government and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. have settled for $32,000 the lawsuit filed by Kaye Christian, a woman who was diagnosed to have a mental illness and sued the government, CHCC, and others for handcuffing her before injecting her with medication.
Under the settlement deal, the government and CHCC did not make any admission to liability, but agreed that the parties deem it to be in their respective best interests to end the legal disputes and avoid further litigation expenses.
Following the settlement, the parties filed a stipulation on Tuesday, requesting the U.S. District Court for the NMI to dismiss Christian’s lawsuit with prejudice.
Dismissal with prejudice means Christian can no longer re-open the case.
The parties, however, agreed that the court shall retain jurisdiction for the purpose of enforcing the terms of the settlement.
The parties further acknowledged the appeal of the issue of sovereign immunity pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
The parties agreed that because the issue of sovereign immunity is not moot and of great public interest, may urge the Ninth Circuit to hear and decide the appeal.
U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona on Wednesday granted the parties’ request and dismissed the lawsuit.
Under the terms of settlement, CHCC shall pay $16,000 within 30 days of the effective date of the settlement deal, while the CNMI shall pay $16,000 for costs and attorney’s fees, to be paid on or before Oct. 31, 2016.
The Northern Marianas Protection & Advocacy Systems Inc., counsel for Christian, shall allocate $20,000 of the amount to Christian, and retain $12,000 for court costs and attorney’s fees.
The parties agreed that Christian was involuntarily detained for 72 hours under the Commonwealth Involuntary Civil Commitment Act, during which time she was injected with antipsychotic drugs.
Christian filed the lawsuit alleging that the seizure, detention and the administration of medication violated her constitutional and statutory rights. She also asserted a claim for breach of a prior settlement agreement.
Christian named as defendants the CNMI government, CHCC, Rota Department of Public Safety director Eusebio Manglona Jr., Dr. Francois Claassens, and 10-unnamed co-defendants. The merits of the case have yet to be decided by the court.
Under the settlement deal, within three months of the execution of the agreement, CHCC shall provide training regarding the requirements of the Involuntary Civil Commitment Act and the Patient’s Rights Act to all employees and agents of Rota Health Center who have direct contact with patients with mental illness and doctors, nurses, and other medical staff in the CHC psychiatric ward in Saipan who have direct contact with patients with mental illness.
Within three months of the execution of the settlement deal, CNMI shall provide training the requirements of the Involuntary Civil Commitment Act to all police officers at DPS who are stationed on Rota.
Among the terms of the deal is that within one year of the execution of this settlement agreement, CHCC will engage the services of a trainer facilitated with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to provide training to doctors and nurses working at the Rota Health Center and in the psychiatric ward of CHC, Saipan.
Christian sued Claassens and then-police sergeant and now DPS Rota director Manglona for their role in her involuntary civil detention from Dec. 31, 2013 through Jan. 3, 2014.
Christian alleges that Manglona seized her from her home without cause and brought her to the Rota Health Center, where Claassens, the resident physician, improperly ordered her to be detained for a mental health evaluation.
Claassens and Manglona both denied they committed improper conduct.