The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rambo, District Judge.
Before the court are the motions for summary judgment of four
sets of defendants: 1) defendants William Demmy, III, Jay
Stoner, Scott Pellman, Mechanicsburg Police Department and the
Borough of Mechanicsburg (hereinafter referred to as the
"Mechanicsburg defendants"); 2) defendant Joanne Robertson,
M.D.; 3) defendant Silvestre De La Cruz, M.D.; and 4) Ron
Roberts, Walter Katherman and the Holy Spirit Hospital of the
Sisters of Christian Charity (hereinafter referred to as "Holy
Spirit defendants"). These motions are ripe, and since they all
concern the same essential facts, the court will address all
four in one memorandum.
Some time early in the week of July 15, 1989, plaintiff Mary
Sue Janicsko discovered that her husband was having an affair.
The parents of three children ages 19, 17, and 12 at the time,
the Janicskos had been married 20 years. The Janicskos also had
two foster children living with them at the time, Jim Harvey,
age 19, and a female friend of their oldest daughter, age 18 or
The object of Mr. Janicsko's affection was one Sandy Markel,
a co-worker of Mr. Janicsko's at a Hardee's restaurant in
Mechanicsburg. Mrs. Janicsko became suspicious of her husband
after receiving reports that he had been spending a great deal
of time with Ms. Markel and coming home unusually late.
Plaintiff also detected the odor of a strange perfume on her
husband's clothes and pillow, and, perhaps most damningly, she
had heard her husband murmur of "Sandy" in his sleep. She
confronted Mr. Janicsko on July 20, 1989 and he admitted to the
affair. He also countered with an accusation of his own — that
Mrs. Janicsko was having an affair with their then-foster son,
an allegation plaintiff denies wholeheartedly.
Plaintiff demanded that her husband break off the affair. At
one point during the day, she wrote out a check for eight
dollars made payable to "my mistress, Sandy Markel," and wrote
in the "Memo" line "For sexual services rendered." Mrs.
Janicsko had her husband sign the check. They then took the
check, along with a note written by her husband informing Sandy
of the breakup, to Ms. Markel's apartment in Mechanicsburg.
When they found that Ms. Markel was not home, Mrs. Janicsko
confronted Sandy's landlord. During this conversation, she told
the landlord that Sandy was a "prostitute," that she was
"selling herself" and that Mr. Janicsko was one of Sandy's
customers. Mrs. Janicsko also accused the landlord of being
"nothing better than a pimp."
The next day, in the late afternoon, Mrs. Janicsko's older
daughter's boyfriend informed her that he had had sexual
relations with Sandy Markel and Sandy's daughter at the same
time. This revelation caused Mrs. Janicsko a great deal of
stress. Later that night, events came to a head as family
members became involved in a series of confrontations. On one
occasion that evening, Mrs. Janicsko evidently dialed Sandy
Markel's telephone number with Mr. Janicsko present, saying
that she wanted him to sexually abuse Ms. Markel the same way
he had abused her. According to Mrs. Janicsko, her husband
broke the connection, struck her several times, and tried to
choke her with the phone cord. They broke away and, for a time,
things were calm. Then the Janicsko children arrived home, and,
in Mrs. Janicsko's words, "all hell broke loose." Mrs. Janicsko
became involved in a violent argument with her oldest daughter
and with her husband. The Hampden Township police were called
to settle the quarrel. Officers investigated and left.
Eventually, Mrs. Janicsko left the house herself and climbed
into her car with the purpose, she alleges, of going to her
parents' home in Johnstown. She then drove to the Hardee's
where her husband and daughter worked and dropped off their
uniforms. She left the Hardee's and drove toward Mechanicsburg.
Jim Harvey and a companion followed her in a borrowed pickup
truck, evidently concerned that his foster mother might do
something to hurt herself or Sandy Markel. Mrs. Janicsko
stopped at a scene on Trindle Road where several Mechanicsburg
police officers were conducting a traffic stop of another
vehicle. She spoke briefly with an officer, defendant Pellman,
complaining that someone was following her. When the officer
walked over to speak to Mr. Harvey in the truck, who had pulled
in behind her, she pulled out and drove away. Soon after that,
Mrs. Janicsko was pulled over further up the road by defendant
Demmy, who had been dispatched from the previous scene by
At some point subsequent to being pulled over by Officer
Demmy, Mrs. Janicsko was nearly hit by an approaching car.
According to plaintiff, she had been standing on the berm when,
because of a night blindness condition, the approaching
headlights temporarily blinded her. She states that she was
jerked back by the officer for no apparent reason and that she
was in no danger of being hit by the car. The police officer's
version indicates that Mrs. Janicsko stood in the middle of the
road and refused to move out of the path of an oncoming car.
Demmy claims that he was forced to pull her out of the way or
watch her be hit.
At some point, defendant Stoner, another Mechanicsburg police
officer, arrived on the scene.
Mrs. Janicsko then returned to her car and locked the doors,
refusing to get out despite the efforts of the police officers
at the scene, Jim Harvey, and defendant Walter Katherman, a
crisis intervention worker from Holy Spirit Hospital. After
more than an hour had elapsed, the three police officers broke
in and removed Mrs. Janicsko bodily from the car, handcuffing
her and shackling her ankles. According to Mrs. Janicsko, she
was badly manhandled and received numerous abrasions and
bruises. In addition, she says that she was kicked in the chest
by defendant Stoner.
The police transported Mrs. Janicsko to Holy Spirit Hospital
where she was examined in the Emergency Unit by defendant
Joanne Robertson, M.D., who concluded that Mrs. Janicsko should
be involuntarily committed pursuant to § 302 of the emergency
procedures of Pennsylvania's Mental Health Procedures Act
("MHPA"), 50 Pa. Stat. § 7302(b). During her stay at Holy
Spirit, Mrs. Janicsko was also examined by defendant Silvestre
De La Cruz. On July 26, 1989, a hearing was held as required by
§ 303 of the MHPA to extend plaintiff's commitment. The hearing
officer dismissed the petition and directed that Mrs. Janicsko
After this decision, a hospital social worker, defendant Ron
Roberts, contacted Mr. Janicsko, Sandy Markel, Mrs. Janicsko's
older daughter and the foster daughter who had been living with
the Janicskos to inform them of plaintiff's impending release.
Mrs. Janicsko was discharged the same day as the hearing.
Plaintiff filed this suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and
1985 against the various named defendants on September 13,
1990, alleging that they violated her civil rights as
guaranteed by the fourth, fifth and fourteenth amendments.
Plaintiff also filed a pendent state law claim against
defendant Roberts pursuant to the MHPA for violation of
privacy. Motions for summary judgment were filed by all four
sets of defendants.
The standards for the award of summary judgment under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 are well known. As the Third Circuit
Court of Appeals recently capsulized:
Summary judgment may be entered if "the pleadings,
deposition[s], answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits,
if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and that the moving party is
entitled to a judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). An issue is "genuine" only if
the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 106
S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Equimark
Comm. Finance Co. v. C.I.T. Financial Serv. Corp.,
812 F.2d 141, 144 (3d Cir. 1987). If evidence is
"merely colorable" or "not significantly probative"
summary judgment may be granted. Anderson, 106
S.Ct. at 2511; Equimark, 812 F.2d at 144. Where the
record, taken as a whole, could not "lead a
rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving
party, summary judgment is proper." Matsushita
Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 106
S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986).
Hankins v. Temple Univ., 829 F.2d 437, 440 (3d Cir. 1987). Once
the moving party has shown that there is an absence of evidence
to support the claims of the nonmoving
party, the nonmoving party may not simply sit back and rest on
the allegations in his complaint, but instead must "go beyond
the pleadings and by her own affidavits, or by the
`depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file,' designate `specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial.'" Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The
court will consider the various defendants' motions under these
I. State Action Problems*fn2
As the court sees it, the critical issue with regard to three
sets of defendants — the Holy Spirit defendants, Dr. De La
Cruz, and Dr. Robertson — is whether their actions in
committing Mrs. Janicsko could be considered the actions of ...