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Judge denied motion to dismiss psychiatric center lawsuit

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Posted at 5:20 PM, Jul 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-27 17:21:54-04

New York Supreme Court Justice Catherine Nugent Panepinto denied Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mental Health Commissioner Ann Marie T. Sullivan motion to dismiss the lawsuit blocking Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center in West Seneca from moving to the Buffalo Psychiatric Center.

This comes following a lawsuit filed by a group known as the Coalition to Save the Children's Psychiatric Center.  The group says moving patients to the Buffalo Psychiatric Center puts children at risk. It says the move is opposed by staff, families, former patients, community groups, and elected officials.

Attorney Steve Cohen of HoganWillig represents the coalition. He said it's a bad idea to move the children to a facility with adults. One of the issues he said is there are numerous of people at the Buffalo facility who are convicted sex offenders.

New York Attorney General is representing Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Sullivan. They argue children would be completely separate and secured from Buffalo Psychiatric patients. The move is necessary to save millions of dollars. They claim it also will allow the Children's Psychiatric Center to expand their services.

The Attorney General's Office also claims most of the patients at the Children's Psychiatric Center are from Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Attorneys also say the coalition has no legal entitlement for this lawsuit and they are trying to take away the governor's powers and give it to the court.

Attorneys for the coalition argue the governor is breaking statute and he needs checks and balance. They also say he needs legislature approval to merge the two center. However, the state senate and house have unanimously voted on a bill to stop the merger.

Judge Panepinto is now giving the coalition ten days to provide affidavits from current children's patients/parents. The governor and commissioner will have 30 days to respond.

The case is due back in court on September 20th.