RODENBAUGH v. SANTIAGO et al
MEMORANDUM/OPINION THAT THE MOTION TO DISMISS (DOC. NO. 21) IS GRANTED, AND THE CLAIMS AGAINST JASON ADDUDDELL ARE DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. THE MOTION TO DISMISS FILED BY THE DEFENDANT TRACY BOANDL (DOC. NO. 22) IS DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE AND CON VERTED TO A MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT. THE PLAINTIFF HAS UNTIL FEBRUARY 7, 2017 TO PRESENT EVIDENCE SUFFICIENT TO ESTABLISH A GENUINE ISSUE OF MATERIAL FACT, ETC. THE DEFENDANT TRACY BOANDL ALSO HAS UNTIL FEBRUARY 7, 2017 TO PRESENT ANY ADDITIONA L EVIDENCE OR ARGUMENT IN SUPPORT OF HER CONVERTED MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT; AND THE PLAINTIFF'S CLAIMS AGAINST THE DEFENDANT ALEX THOMAS, ARE DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. SIGNED BY HONORABLE EDWARD G. SMITH ON 1/18/17. 1/18/17 ENTERED AND COPIES MAILED TO PRO SE', UNREP AND E-MAILED.(ky, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
JUDGE SANTIAGO, et al.,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 16-2158
January 18, 2017
This action arises from the pro se plaintiff’s arrest after she unsuccessfully attempted to
use a hospital’s telephone and obtain additional medical treatment while there. The plaintiff
asserts constitutional claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the officer that arrested her, the
judge that presided over her guilty plea and sentencing, and a case manager and physician that
interacted with her while she was incarcerated. As to these defendants, the plaintiff alleges that
(1) the arresting officer failed to provide her with a Miranda warning and should have allowed
her to seek care at another hospital instead of arresting her, (2) the state trial judge
misrepresented how long she would remain incarcerated if she pleaded guilty, (3) the case
manager deprived her of access to phone calls and mail, and prevented her from communicating
with the court and her attorney, and (4) the jail’s physician should have transferred her from the
jail to a mental health institution following his initial meeting with her.
Currently before the court are motions to dismiss separately filed by the police officer
and the case manager. The police officer moves to dismiss the claims against him for lack of
subject-matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim. The case manager moves to dismiss
the claims against her for failure to exhaust administrative remedies as required by the Prison
Litigation Reform Act, and for failure to state a claim. As explained below, the court will deny
the police officer’s motion to the extent that it seeks dismissal for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction but grant it for failure to state a claim, as the plaintiff’s claims arising from her arrest
are barred by her subsequent guilty plea. As for the case manager’s motion, because she relies
on matters outside of the pleadings, the court will convert the motion to dismiss to a motion for
summary judgment and provide the plaintiff with an opportunity to respond.
Additionally, although the jail’s physician has not yet participated in this litigation, the
court has screened the claims against him as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and determines
that the plaintiff has failed to state a claim. As such, the court will also dismiss any claims
against the physician.
ALLEGATIONS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On April 25, 2015, the pro se plaintiff, Daphne Rodenbaugh (“Rodenbaugh”) went to the
emergency department at Sacred Heart Hospital (“Sacred Heart”) to obtain treatment for severe
blisters on her feet. Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”) at 2, Doc. No. 19. Sacred Heart
medical personnel provided her with a prescription for cream and told her to come back if she
had further problems. Id. Rodenbaugh left Sacred Heart and attempted to make a phone call, but
her cellular phone did not work, so she returned to Sacred Heart, informed the staff that she
could barely walk, and asked if she could use the hospital’s telephone located in the waiting
room. Id. The staff at Sacred Heart did not permit Rodenbaugh to use the hospital’s telephone,
and Sacred Heart’s security called the police. 1 Id. Jason Adduddell (“Adduddell”), a police
officer for the city of Allentown, arrived and arrested Rodenbaugh, and did not provide her with
Miranda warnings during the course of her arrest. Id. Rodenbaugh was charged with violating
18 Pa. C.S. § 3503 (defiant criminal trespass), and because she was unable to post bail—which
It is unclear why security called the police.
was set at $1500—Rodenbaugh was committed to the Lehigh County Jail pending arraignment.
See Defendant Tracy Boandl Rule 12(b)(6) Mot. to Dismiss Pl.’s Second Am. Compl. (“Boandl
MTD”) at Ex. 1, Affidavit of Tracy Boandl (“Boandl Aff.”), at Ex. A, Commitment Order, Doc.
No. 22. 2
On May 4, 2015, Rodenbaugh appeared before Lehigh County Magisterial District Judge
Rashid Santiago for arraignment. SAC at 7; Boandl Aff. at Ex. B, Order Imposing Sentence
(“Sentencing Order”). Based on a discussion between Judge Santiago, the “D.A. and others[,]”
Rodenbaugh pleaded guilty to defiant criminal trespass because she believed she would be
released in five days if she pleaded guilty instead of spending three months in jail awaiting trial
if she pleaded not guilty. SAC at 2; Sentencing Order. Judge Santiago sentenced Rodenbaugh to
“time served to 12 months, parole plan needed, SPORE supervision, fines suspended, pay costs.”
Sentencing Order. Rodenbaugh’s sentence required that she have a parole plan in place with an
address to which the Lehigh County Jail could release her. Boandl Aff. at ¶ 5. Rodenbaugh
apparently did not have such an address where she could be released.
incarceration, Rodenbaugh interacted with Tracy Boandl (“Boandl”), a Lehigh County Jail case
manager assigned to her. SAC at 3; Boandl Aff. at ¶ 2. Rodenbaugh believes that Boandl
blocked her access to phone calls and mail, and prevented her from communicating with her
attorney. SAC at 3. During her incarceration, Rodenbaugh also interacted with Dr. Alex
Boandl submitted various documents in support of her motion to dismiss. Among these documents is her affidavit,
which also has a number of documents attached to it, including: a Lehigh County Court Commitment Order, a
Lehigh County Court Sentencing Order, a Lehigh County Court Order for Involuntary Treatment, and a Lehigh
County Court Order paroling Rodenbaugh, and a Lehigh County Jail Discharge/Transfer Notification. The court has
considered the Lehigh County orders because they are public records. Sands v. McCormick, 502 F.3d 263, 268 (3d
Cir. 2007) (“Generally, in ruling on a motion to dismiss, a district court relies on the complaint, attached exhibits,
and matters of public record.”) (citing Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192,
1196 (3d Cir. 1993)). To the extent that the court references the discharge/transfer notification, the substance of
Boandl’s affidavit, the substance of Janine Donate’s affidavit, or the other documents attached to the motion to
dismiss, the court does so simply to add context to the factual background of this case because the second amended
complaint lacks factual details surrounding Rodenbaugh’s arrest and subsequent incarceration. The court did not
consider those documents in ruling on the motions to dismiss.
Thomas, a physician at the Lehigh County Jail. Id. at 9. On the second day of her incarceration,
Rodenbaugh met with Dr. Thomas and stated, “I don’t belong here.” Id. Rodenbaugh believes
that Thomas should have transferred her to a mental health institution at that point. Id.
On October 23, 2015, Judge Carol K. McGinley of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh
County found that Rodenbaugh was severely mentally disabled and in need of treatment, and
ordered that she be involuntarily treated at the Wernersville State Hospital. Boandl Aff. at Ex. E,
Order for Involuntary Treatment. On November 23, 2015, Judge James T. Anthony of the Court
of Common Pleas of Lehigh County ordered that Rodenbaugh be paroled to the Wernersville
State Hospital, with an effective date of December 1, 2015. Id. at Ex. F, Order. Rodenbaugh
was transferred to the Wernersville State Hospital on December 1, 2015.
Id. at Ex. G,
Rodenbaugh filed the instant lawsuit, apparently asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against Judge Santiago, Adduddell, Boandl, and Dr. Thomas, and an application to proceed in
forma pauperis, on February 17, 2016, in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Complaint, Doc.
Nos. 1-1, 1-2. On February 19, 2016, the Honorable Joseph F. Saporito, Jr. entered an order
transferring Rodenbaugh’s case to this court. Order at ECF pp. 3-4, Doc. No. 1.
This matter was not assigned to the undersigned until the Clerk of Court received the
original record in this case on May 4, 2016. On May 12, 2016, the court entered an order (1)
granting Rodenbaugh’s motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and (2) providing her
with leave to file an amended complaint to clarify her allegations and to list all defendants in the
caption of the pleading as required by Rule 10 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Order at
1, Doc. No. 2. On May 23, 2016, Rodenbaugh separately filed a motion seeking the appointment
of counsel and an amended complaint in which she once again asserted claims against Judge
Santiago, Adduddell, Boandl, and Dr. Thomas.
The court entered an order denying Rodenbaugh’s motion for counsel without prejudice
on June 8, 2016. Doc. No. 6. On June 30, 2016, after screening the amended complaint under
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the court entered an order dismissing the claims against Judge Santiago
with prejudice, and ordering the United States Marshal for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
to serve the summonses and the amended complaint upon the remaining defendants. Doc. No.
Adduddell filed motions to dismiss, to strike, and for a more definite statement on August
25, 2016. Doc. No. 11. Boandl filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint on August 31,
2016. Doc. No. 13. Rodenbaugh filed a response to Adduddell’s and Boandl’s motions on
September 27, 2016. Doc. No. 16. The court held oral argument on the motions on October 4,
2016. Doc. No. 18.
On October 26, 2016, Rodenbaugh filed a second amended complaint (“SAC”) against
Judge Santiago, Adduddell, Boandl, and Dr. Thomas. On October 27, 2016, the court entered an
order dismissing the claims in the SAC against Judge Santiago with prejudice, and denying
Adduddell’s and Boandl’s motions to dismiss the amended complaint as moot because of the
filing of the SAC. Doc. No. 20. Adduddell and Boandl separately filed motions to dismiss the
SAC on November 8, 2016 and November 10, 2016, respectively.
Doc. Nos. 21, 22.
Rodenbaugh filed responses to the motions to dismiss on November 21, 2016. Doc. Nos. 24, 25.
The motions are ripe for disposition.
As the court detailed in its June 30, 2016 order, Rodenbaugh’s claim against Judge Santiago was based on his
alleged misrepresentation about the amount of time that she would serve in jail if she pleaded guilty at her
arraignment. Order at 2, n.2. Rodenbaugh appeared (and still appears) to believe that this conduct supports a claim
for false imprisonment against Judge Santiago. Id. Rodenbaugh’s allegations with respect to Judge Santiago related
to conversations that they had during a hearing on May 4, 2015. Id. Rodenbaugh did not allege that Judge Santiago
lacked jurisdiction to sentence her or that he otherwise acted outside of his judicial capacity. Id. As such, the court
concluded that there were no allegations that would satisfy any of the exceptions to absolute judicial immunity, and
the court dismissed with prejudice the claims against Judge Santiago. Id. (citing Azubuko v. Royal, 443 F.3d 302,
303 (3d Cir. 2006)).
Standards of Review
Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss
Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a party to move for
dismissal of a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed. R.
Civ. P. 12(b)(6).
A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests “the sufficiency of the
allegations contained in the complaint.” Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993)
(citation omitted). As the moving party, “[t]he defendant bears the burden of showing that no
claim has been presented.” Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005) (citation
In general, a complaint is legally sufficient if it contains “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). “The touchstone
of [this] pleading standard is plausibility.” Bistrian v. Levi, 696 F.3d 352, 365 (3d Cir. 2012).
Although Rule 8(a)(2) does “not require heightened fact pleading of specifics,” it does require
the recitation of “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation
Thus, to survive dismissal, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted
as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at
570). This “plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement,’ but it asks for more
than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 570). Thus, “[a] pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions’ or ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.’” 4 Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
The Third Circuit employs a three-step approach to evaluate whether a complaint satisfies
the Twombly/Iqbal standard:
First, the court must “tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to
state a claim.” Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1947. Second, the court should identify
allegations that, “because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to
the assumption of truth.” Id. at 1950. Finally, “where there are well-pleaded
factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine
whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement for relief.” Id.
Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 130 (3d Cir. 2010) (internal footnote omitted).
Rule 12(b)(1) Motion
“Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co.,
511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994)). “They possess only that power authorized by Constitution and
statute, which is not to be expanded by judicial decree.” Id. (citations omitted). “[F]ederal
courts are without power to adjudicate the substantive claims in a lawsuit, absent a firm bedrock
of jurisdiction.” Carlsberg Res. Corp. v. Cambria Sav. & Loan Ass’n, 554 F.2d 1254, 1256 (3d
Cir. 1977). Therefore, “[w]hen the foundation of federal authority is, in a particular instance,
open to question, it is incumbent upon the courts to resolve such doubts, one way or the other,
before proceeding to a disposition of the merits.” Id.
“[A] court must grant a motion to dismiss [under Rule 12(b)(1)] if it lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction to hear a claim.” In re Schering Plough Corp. Intron/Temodar Consumer Class
Action, 678 F.3d 235, 243 (3d Cir. 2012). “In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(1) motion, a court must
Similar to the court’s review as to whether a pro se complaint is frivolous, the court is mindful that no matter how
“inartfully pleaded, [pro se complaints] must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (internal quotation marks omitted). Despite this more liberal
pleading standard, a pro se complaint must still contain “‘sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Maxberry v. Sallie Mae Educ. Loans, 532 F. App’x 73, 75 (3d Cir. 2013)
(quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).
first determine whether the movant presents a facial or factual attack.” Id. (citation omitted). A
jurisdictional challenge is factual if “it concerns not an alleged pleading deficiency, but rather the
actual failure of [the plaintiff’s] claims to comport with the jurisdictional prerequisites[.]” U.S.
ex rel. Atkinson v. Pennsylvania Shipbuilding Co., 473 F.3d 506, 514 (3d Cir. 2007) (quotation
marks and citation omitted). A jurisdictional challenge is facial if it “challenges subject matter
jurisdiction without disputing the facts alleged in the complaint, and it requires the court to
consider the allegations of the complaint as true.” Davis v. Wells Fargo, 824 F.3d 333, 346 (3d
Cir. 2016) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). On the other hand, “a factual
challenge attacks the factual allegations underlying the complaint's assertion of jurisdiction,
either through the filing of an answer or ‘otherwise present[ing] competing facts.’” Id. (quoting
Constitution Party of Pa. v. Achiele, 757 F.3d 347, 358 (3d Cir. 2014)). When a jurisdictional
challenge is factual, a court may “weigh and consider evidence outside the pleadings.” Id.
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
“Section 1983 provides private citizens with a means to redress violations of federal law
committed by state individuals.” Woodyard v. County of Essex, 514 F. App’x 177, 180 (3d Cir.
2013) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 1983). “[A] plaintiff seeking to hold an individual liable under § 1983
must establish that she was deprived of a federal constitutional or statutory right by a state
actor.” Kach v. Hose, 589 F.3d 626, 646 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing Benn v. Universal Health Sys.,
371 F.3d 165, 169–70 (3d Cir. 2004)). “Accordingly, there can be no cause of action under §
1983 absent violation of a right secured by the Constitution or the laws of the United States.”
Reichley v. Pennsylvania Dep’t of Agric., 427 F.3d 236, 244 (3d Cir. 2005).
When evaluating section 1983 claims,
“[t]he first step . . . is to identify the exact contours of the underlying right said to
have been violated and to determine whether the plaintiff has alleged a
deprivation of a constitutional right at all.” Nicini v. Morra, 212 F.3d 798, 806 (3d
Cir. 2000) (quoting Cnty. of Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U.S. 833, 841 n. 5, 118
S.Ct. 1708, 1714 n. 5, 140 L.Ed.2d 1043 (1998)). Next, a plaintiff must
demonstrate a defendant’s “personal involvement in the alleged wrongs.” Rode v.
Dellarciprete, 845 F.2d 1195, 1207 (3d Cir.1988). A plaintiff makes sufficient
allegations of a defendant’s personal involvement by describing the defendant’s
participation in or actual knowledge of and acquiescence in the wrongful conduct.
Id. Although a court can infer that a defendant had contemporaneous knowledge
of wrongful conduct from the circumstances surrounding a case, the knowledge
must be actual, not constructive. Baker v. Monroe Twp., 50 F.3d 1186, 1194 (3d
Cir.1995); Rode, 845 F.2d at 1201 n. 6. A plaintiff “must portray specific conduct
by state officials which violates some constitutional right.” Gittlemacker v.
Prasse, 428 F.2d 1, 3 (3d Cir.1970).
Chavarriaga v. New Jersey Dep’t of Corr., 806 F.3d 210, 222 (3d Cir. 2015).
Here, Rodenbaugh appears to assert the following section 1983 claims: (1) false arrest
and violation of due process against Adduddell, alleging that he should have taken her to a
different hospital instead of arresting her, and that he failed to provide her with Miranda
warnings; (2) violations of her First, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights by Boandl,
insofar as Rodenbaugh alleged Boandl blocked her access to phone calls and mail, denied her
access to the court, and “never let [her] talk to [her] attorney;” (3) false imprisonment against
Judge Santiago, alleging that he misrepresented how long she would be incarcerated if she
pleaded guilty at her arraignment; and (4) violations of her Eighth Amendment rights by Dr.
Thomas, alleging that he should have transferred her from jail to a mental health institution when
he met with her on her second day of incarceration. 5 SAC at 2, 3, 7, 9. With the exception of
Rodenbaugh does not identify the precise constitutional amendments implicated by her allegations and, in some
instances, does not specify the cause of action asserted. As such, the court has endeavored to identify the
amendments and causes of action. Higgins v. Beyer, 293 F.3d 683, 688 (3d Cir. 2002) (explaining that courts must
liberally construe pro se complaints and “apply the applicable law, irrespective of whether [the] litigant has
mentioned it by name”).
Rodenbaugh’s claim against Judge Santiago—as the court already dismissed it with prejudice in
a previous order—the court will discuss each of these claims in turn.
Claims Against Adduddell
Rodenbaugh alleges section 1983 claims for false arrest and violation of due process
against Adduddell based on his arrest of her and his failure to provide her with a Miranda
warning. SAC at 2. Adduddell seeks dismissal of Rodenbaugh’s claims for lack of subjectmatter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) and for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6). Defendant, Jason Adduddell’s, Mot. to Dismiss Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and (6)
(“Adduddell MTD”) at 2-3, Doc. No. 21. The court will first consider Adduddell’s motion to
dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, because if the court lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction over the claims, the motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim is moot. In re
Corestates Trust Fee Litig., 837 F. Supp. 104, 105 (E.D. Pa. 1993) (“When a motion under Rule
12 is based on more than one ground, the court should consider the 12(b)(1) challenge first
because if it must dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, all other defenses
and objections become moot.”), aff’d, 39 F.3d 61 (3d Cir. 1994).
In seeking dismissal for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, Adduddell argues that
Rodenbaugh fails to allege sufficient facts to show that her claims arise from federal law.
Adduddell MTD at 7. 6 The court disagrees. “The Supreme Court has authorized courts to
dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) for lack of jurisdiction due to merits-related defects in only narrow
categories of cases.” Davis v. Wells Fargo, 824 F.3d 333, 349–50 (3d Cir. 2016). Indeed, while
[a] suit may sometimes be dismissed for want of jurisdiction where the alleged
claim under the Constitution or federal statutes clearly appears to be immaterial
and made solely for the purpose of obtaining jurisdiction or where such a claim is
wholly insubstantial and frivolous. [D]ismissal for lack of jurisdiction is not
The parties in this matter appear to be citizens of Pennsylvania and Rodenbaugh has not alleged diversity
jurisdiction, leaving federal question jurisdiction the only basis for the court’s subject matter jurisdiction.
appropriate merely because the legal theory alleged is probably false, but only
because the right claimed is so insubstantial, implausible, foreclosed by prior
decisions of this Court, or otherwise completely devoid of merit as to not involve
a federal controversy.
Id. at 350 (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). Furthermore, “[t]hat the claim is
unsubstantial must be ‘very plain.’” Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 199 (1962) (quoting Hart v. B.
F. Keith Vaudeville Exch., 262 U.S. 271, 274 (1923)).
Here, in support of her false arrest claim, Rodenbaugh alleges that Adduddell arrested her
when she was seeking treatment at an emergency room, that she was not being violent, and that
instead of arresting her, Adduddell should have permitted her to admit herself to a different
hospital. SAC at 2. In support of her due process violation claim, Rodenbaugh alleges that
Adduddell failed to provide her with Miranda warnings upon her arrest. SAC at 2. Rodenbaugh
alleges that she suffered damages in the form of emotional distress, and lost property stored in a
storage unit. SAC at 2. While these allegations may ultimately fail to make out the necessary
elements for a § 1983 claim—and indeed they do—they simply are not the types of
“insubstantial,” “implausible,” and “devoid of merit” claims that the court should dismiss
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) for merits-related defects. Davis, 824 F.3d at 349–50 n.19 (noting that
“a plaintiff who sues Corporation X on a claim that it is responsible for a civil war somewhere on
the other side of the planet . . . is . . . the kind of implausible allegation the Supreme Court had in
mind when it crafted the exception permitting dismissal under Rule 12(b)(1) for wholly
insubstantial claims to jurisdiction.”).
As for Adduddell’s Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court finds that Rodenbaugh’s false arrest
and due process violation claims are subject to dismissal because they are barred by the Supreme
Court’s decision in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486–87 (1994). “Under Heck. a § 1983
action that impugns the validity of the plaintiff’s underlying conviction cannot be maintained
unless the conviction has been reversed on direct appeal or impaired by collateral proceedings.”
Gilles v. Davis, 427 F.3d 197, 208–09 (3d Cir. 2005). This rule “‘avoid[s] parallel litigation of
probable cause and guilt’ [and] ‘prevent[s] the claimant from succeeding in a tort action after
having been convicted in the underlying criminal prosecution, which would run counter to the
judicial policy against creating two conflicting resolutions arising from the same transaction.’”
Suarez v. City of Bayonne, 566 F. App’x 181, 184 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Gilles, 427 F.3d at
Rodenbaugh was arrested for defiant criminal trespass, and she subsequently pled guilty
to the same offense. SAC at 2; Boandl Aff. at Ex. A. A guilty plea is sufficient to bar a
subsequent section 1983 claim. See e.g. Walke v. Cullen, 491 F. App’x 273, 276 (3d Cir. 2012)
(barring a plaintiff’s claim for damages arising from his arrest and incarceration following a
guilty plea because they would imply the invalidity of his conviction); Gilles, 427 F.3d at 209
n.8 (noting that under Heck, a guilty plea is sufficient to bar a subsequent section 1983 claim).
Rodenbaugh’s claims that Adduddell falsely arrested her and violated her due process rights call
into question the validity of her conviction. Therefore, the court must dismiss them pursuant to
In addition to being barred by Heck, Rodenbaugh’s due process violation claim also fails
because “violations of the prophylactic Miranda procedures do not amount to violations of the
Constitution itself.” Giuffre v. Bissell, 31 F.3d 1241, 1256 (3d Cir. 1994). Indeed, “a plaintiff
may not base a § 1983 claim on the mere fact that the police questioned her in custody without
providing Miranda warnings when there is no claim that the plaintiff's answers were used against
her at trial.” Renda v. King, 347 F.3d 550, 552 (3d Cir. 2003) (noting that the Supreme Court’s
decision in Chavez v. Martinez, 538 U.S. 760 (2003) reaffirmed the Third Circuit’s previous
holding in Giuffre to the same effect). Here, Rodenbaugh has not (and cannot) claim that any
statement she made to Adduddell was used against her at trial because she pleaded guilty at her
arraignment. SAC at 2.
Claims Against Boandl
Rodenbaugh alleges section 1983 claims against Boandl based on her denial of
Rodenbaugh’s access to mail and phone calls, for preventing her from communicating with her
attorney, and for preventing her access to the court. SAC at 3. Boandl seeks dismissal of
Rodenbaugh’s claims for failure to exhaust administrative remedies pursuant to the Prison
Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), and for failure to state a claim pursuant
to Rule 12(b)(6). Boandl MTD at 7. The court will first consider Boandl’s motion to dismiss
based on Rodenbaugh’s failure to exhaust administrative remedies pursuant to the PLRA.
A prisoner’s failure to exhaust administrative remedies pursuant to the PLRA is an
affirmative defense that must be pleaded and proven by the defendant. See Ray v. Kertes, 285
F.3d 287, 295 (3d Cir. 2002) (citing Williams v. Runyon, 130 F.3d 568, 573 (3d Cir. 1997)). The
court can consider this contention on a motion to dismiss only if it “present[s] an insuperable
barrier to recovery by the plaintiff.” Id. at 295 n.8 (quoting Flight Sys., Inc. v. Electronic Data
Sys. Corp., 112 F.3d 124, 127 (3d Cir. 1997). In seeking dismissal of Rodenbaugh’s claims,
Boandl argues that “Rodenbaugh must establish that she exhausted all administrative remedies
prior to filing a [s]ection 1983 claim[,]” and that “[Rodenbaugh’s] simple allegation, without any
specificity, is not enough to satisfy the requirements of the Prison Litigation Reform Act.”
Boandl MTD at 7.
The court disagrees that Rodenbaugh’s allegation fails to satisfy the requirements of the
PLRA. Rodenbaugh alleges that she “[f]iled a grievance request form 3 times.” SAC at 3.
Accepting these allegations as true—as the court must do on a motion to dismiss—it is plausible
that Rodenbaugh has exhausted her administrative remedies as required by the PLRA.
In support of her motion to dismiss for failure to exhaust, Boandl relies on documents,
such as her and Janine Donate’s affidavits, which the court may not consider on a motion to
dismiss because they are not part of the complaint or a matter of public record. See Sands v.
McCormick, 502 F.3d 263, 268 (3d Cir. 2007) (indicating that in deciding motions to dismiss, “a
district court relies on the complaint, attached exhibits, and matters of public record” (citing
Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993)).
Nonetheless, Rule 12(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states that if
matters outside the pleading[s] are presented to and not excluded by the court, the
motion shall be treated as one for summary judgment and disposed of as provided
in Rule 56, and all parties shall be given a reasonable opportunity to present all
material made pertinent to such a motion by Rule 56.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d); see also Pension Ben. Guar. Corp., 998 F.2d at 1196 (holding that “a
motion to dismiss [must] be converted to a summary judgment motion if a court considers
matters outside the pleadings”). “[T]he decision to convert a motion to dismiss to a motion for
summary judgment is generally committed to the district court’s discretion under [Rule] 56[.]”
Kulwicki v. Dawson, 969 F.2d 1454, 1463 n.11 (3d Cir. 1992).
“Rule 12(b) and Rule 12(c), by identical language, require that when a district court
converts motions under them into motions for summary judgment, the procedures of Rule 56
govern.” Rose v. Bartle, 871 F.2d 331, 340 (3d Cir. 1989). “When this conversion takes place
all parties must be given the opportunity to present material to the court.” Id. “[Rule 56(c)]
requires that the parties have at least ten days notice before the court may consider the motion,”
and “the opportunity to submit ‘pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with … affidavits’ to support or oppose the motion for summary
judgment.” Id. (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)).
In this case, resolution of the exhaustion issue requires consideration of the substance of
Boandl’s and Janine Donate’s affidavits. “Reliance on declarations from prison officials or
administrators requires conversion.” Hemingway v. Falor, 200 F. App’x 86, 90 (3d Cir. 2006)
(citing Camp v. Brennan, 219 F.3d 279, 280 (3d Cir. 2000)). As such, the court finds it
necessary and in the interest of judicial economy to convert Boandl’s motion to dismiss to a
motion for summary judgment. Since this opinion will provide the parties with notice of the
conversion, the court will grant them twenty (20) days leave to file all material that they believe
is relevant to Boandl’s motion.
In this case, Rodenbaugh must present evidence sufficient to establish a genuine issue of
fact regarding her failure to exhaust the Lehigh County Jail grievance procedures with respect to
her claims that Boandl deprived her of access to telephone calls and mail, and prevented her
from communicating with her attorney.
With respect to Boandl’s motion to dismiss the underlying claims for failure to state a
claim, the court will also convert the motion to a motion for summary judgment. Pursuant to the
PLRA, “[i]n the event that a claim is, on its face, frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief, the court may dismiss the underlying claim without first requiring the exhaustion of
administrative remedies.” Ray, 285 F.3d at 296 (citing 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)). Therefore, the
court may properly consider whether to dismiss the underlying claims because Rodenbaugh has
failed to state a claim without first deciding whether Rodenbaugh has exhausted her
administrative remedies. Nonetheless, as with Boandl’s motion to dismiss for failure to exhaust,
Boandl’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim also relies on documents outside the
pleadings that the court may not consider. See Boandl MTD at 7 (attaching the affidavit of
Janine Donate and noting that it demonstrates that Rodenbaugh had access to phone calls and
mail). Therefore, the court will also convert Boandl’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a
claim to a motion for summary judgment, and Rodenbaugh must also present evidence sufficient
to establish a genuine issue of fact regarding whether Boandl deprived her of access to telephone
calls and mail, prevented her from communicating with her attorney, and deprived her of access
to the court.
Claims Against Dr. Thomas
Rodenbaugh alleges a § 1983 claim of unconstitutional deprivation against Dr. Thomas
for failing to transfer her from the Lehigh County Jail to a mental health institution. SAC at 9.
As Rodenbaugh is proceeding in forma pauperis, the court must “dismiss the case at any time if
the court determines that-- . . . (B) the action . . . fails to state a claim on which relief may be
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).
Regarding the analysis under section
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), the standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to
this subsection is identical to the legal standard used when ruling on Rule 12(b)(6) motions to
dismiss. See Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236, 240 (3d Cir. 1999) (applying the Rule
12(b)(6) standard to dismissal for failure to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)).
Here, Rodenbaugh’s allegation—that Dr. Thomas should have transferred her from the
Lehigh County Jail to a mental health institution—fails to state a claim for unconstitutional
In this regard, “given a valid conviction, [a] criminal defendant has been
constitutionally deprived of his liberty to the extent that the State may confine him and subject
him to the rules of its prison system so long as the conditions of confinement do not otherwise
violate the Constitution.” Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 224 (1976). Nonetheless, “[t]he
According to the United States Marshal’s Return of Service, it served Dr. Thomas with the summons and amended
complaint on July 18, 2016, by serving it at the Lehigh County Prison. See Doc. No. 8 at ECF p. 4. Dr. Thomas did
not have counsel enter an appearance on his behalf and he did not otherwise file a response to the amended
complaint. Dr. Thomas did not appear for the initial pretrial conference on October 4, 2016. It is unclear whether
the plaintiff served Dr. Thomas with a copy of the SAC.
Constitution does not require that the State have more than one prison for convicted felons; nor
does it guarantee that the convicted prisoner will be placed in any particular prison, if, as is
likely, the State has more than one correctional institution.” Id. Thus, prisoners do not have a
constitutionally protected right to choose their location of confinement. See, e.g., Beatty v. Clerk
of Courts, No. CIV. A. 11-7240, 2012 WL 2873567, at *3 (E.D. Pa. July 13, 2012) (“[A]
prisoner has no protectable liberty interest of confinement in a particular state prison.”) (citation
omitted); Goodson v. Maggi, No. CIV. A. 08-44, 2010 WL 1328687, at *18 (W.D. Pa. Mar. 1,
2010) (“[A prisoner] has no constitutional right to be housed in any particular penal
institution.”), report and recommendation adopted, No. CIV. A. 08-44, 2010 WL 1253638
(W.D. Pa. Mar. 29, 2010); Bolden v. United States, No. CIV. A. 93-5463, 1994 WL 246173, at
*2 (E.D. Pa. June 7, 1994) (holding that “[t]he due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
does not afford a prisoner freedom of choice with respect to the location of his incarceration.”
Rodenbaugh’s allegations against Dr. Thomas are as follows: (1) Dr. Thomas met
Rodenbaugh on her second day of incarceration, (2) Dr. Thomas asked her how she was doing,
(3) Rodenbaugh told him that she didn’t belong in jail and that he should “get [her] out,” and (4)
Dr. Thomas “should have committed [her] at that point to a mental hospital.” SAC at 9. As an
inmate serving an imposed sentence, Rodenbaugh had no right to be let out or transferred to a
different institution. Accordingly, Rodenbaugh’s allegations against Dr. Thomas fail to state a
claim for unconstitutional deprivation and the court must dismiss her claims against him.
As explained above, the court will grant Adduddell’s motion to dismiss insofar as
Rodenbaugh may not maintain a section 1983 claim against Adduddell because Heck bars her
false arrest and due process violation claims, and she has failed to state a claim against him
regarding any purported Miranda violation. The court has also screened Rodenbaugh’s claim
against Dr. Thomas as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) and finds that she has failed to set forth a
constitutional claim against Dr. Thomas based on her claim that he should have transferred her to
a mental health institution.
In the interest of judicial efficiency, the court will convert Boandl’s motion to dismiss
into a motion for summary judgment, as her motion to dismiss relies on matters outside the
pleadings that the court may not consider on a motion to dismiss.
The court will grant
Rodenbaugh twenty days leave to present evidence sufficient to establish a genuine issue of
material fact regarding (1) her failure to exhaust the Lehigh County Jail grievance procedures
with respect to her claims that Boandl deprived her of access to telephone calls and mail, and
prevented her from communicating with her attorney and the court, and (2) whether Boandl
deprived her of access to telephone calls and mail, and prevented her from communicating with
her attorney and the court.
A separate order follows.
BY THE COURT:
/s/ Edward G. Smith
EDWARD G. SMITH, J.
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