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C.L. v. State, Department of Human Services

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

August 19, 2013

C. L., Appellant,
State of Minnesota Department of Human Services, Respondent, Hennepin County Human Services, Respondent, Touchstone Mental Health, Respondent.


Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-CV-10-7869

C.L., Richfield, Minnesota (pro se appellant)

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Patricia A. Sonnenberg, Assistant Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent Minnesota Department of Human Services)

Michael Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Kim Mammedaty, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent Hennepin County Human Services)

Mary K. Martin, South St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent Touchstone Mental Health)

Considered and decided by Larkin, Presiding Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Worke, Judge.

WORKE, Judge

Appellant, an adult with "serious and persistent mental illness" as defined by the Minnesota Comprehensive Adult Mental Health Act, Minn. Stat. §§ 245.461-.486 (2012), challenges a district court order affirming a decision by respondent Department of Human Services that reduced her services and transferred her to a different case management program. Appellant argues that she was entitled to remain in the program and to change her case manager, and that her due-process rights were violated during the administrative hearing. We affirm.


In February 2008, appellant C.L. was referred by Hennepin County Adult Behavioral Services to Touchstone, a provider of mental-health services. At that time, Touchstone was only providing targeted case-management services. In April 2008, C.L. began complaining about the quality of care she was receiving from Touchstone. In June or July 2008, a state ombudsman met with C.L. and Touchstone representatives. Together, they drafted a grievance protocol designed to facilitate the resolution of C.L.'s concerns.

In August 2008, Touchstone added intensive community rehabilitative services (ICRS) to its program, and C.L. agreed to take part in this new program. The purpose of the program was to provide clients with significant treatment needs an opportunity to remain in the community. Clients were expected to meet with members of their treatment team at least four times a month, but more typically four to eight times per month as needed.

After transitioning to the new program, C.L. continued to complain about the programming and staff. Due to her dissatisfaction with the program, the team discussed with C.L. the possibility of transferring her to a different service provider. The team also offered to help her move to the next step in her grievance protocol, but C.L. chose not to send a written complaint. During this time, C.L. did not communicate with her treatment team and was uncooperative with their treatment efforts. C.L.'s case manager was unable to contact her until October 2008. C.L. refused to meet with her case manager after a comment was made that C.L. perceived as sarcastic and insulting. In February 2009, C.L. met with her psychiatrist who prescribed a medication that C.L. refused to take. C.L. was also upset that the psychiatrist made a comment about her speaking style that she found insulting, and she refused to meet with him again. C.L. again contacted the ombudsman's office to complain that her team was not helping her enough financially. In March 2009, the team attempted to contact C.L. to reengage her in services. At this time, C.L. requested to work with a different case manager. C.L.'s treatment team discussed changing C.L.'s case manager and concluded it was not clinically appropriate.

C.L. met with a team member for the last time in early April 2009. C.L.'s treatment team leader asked C.L. to meet her at a different facility and to move the meeting up ten minutes for the convenience of another client. C.L. was irate because she was unable to finish the computer work she was doing and because she was asked to assist with cleaning the facility before she left. C.L. demanded an apology, and subsequently refused to meet with any of her team members. On April 24, 2009, Touchstone sent C.L. notice of its decision to transfer her back to Hennepin County Adult Behavioral Services. On May 6, 2009, C.L. appealed the decision to the ...

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