Class Action on Deducting Mental Patients Social Security Benefits

In Crawford v. Gould (56 F3d 1162 [9th Cir 1995]), psychiatric patients in California State hospitals brought a class action challenging the State's practice of deducting their money, including Social Security benefits, from personal deposit accounts in order to reimburse the hospital for the cost of patient care and maintenance. The consent to make such deductions was contained within a document entitled "Authorization for Deposit and Withdrawal," which was made available to all patients. The court distinguished Fetterusso v. New York, in which the claimants failed to contest the voluntariness of their agreements. The court emphasized, as part of the ruling that the practice in California violated 42 USC 407 (a), that the plaintiffs had either declined to sign the authorizations for deposit or had revoked their authorizations.