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GARDINER v. MERCYHURST COLLEGE

December 8, 1995

JOSEPH W. GARDINER, Plaintiff,
v.
MERCYHURST COLLEGE, RODGER J. GREGORICH, HELEN F. MULLEN, SHERI LANTZ, LARRY KOPKO, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: COHILL

 COHILL, D.J.

 Plaintiff, Joseph W. Gardiner, brought this action against Mercyhurst College, Rodger J. Gregorich ("Gregorich"), Helen F. Mullen ("Mullen"), Sheri Lantz ("Lantz"), and Larry Kopko ("Kopko"). Mercyhurst College is a non-profit corporation located in Erie, Pennsylvania. Gregorich, Mullen, and Lantz are adult individuals residing in Erie County, Pennsylvania. Kopko is an adult individual residing in Warren County, Pennsylvania.

 Pending before this court are motions by Lantz to dismiss and Kopko for summary judgment. As we are awaiting a response from plaintiff to Kopko's motion for summary judgment, we presently address only Lantz' motion to dismiss.

 I. Background

 The following facts have been averred in plaintiff's Amended Complaint. Mercyhurst College operates a private undergraduate and post-graduate college. It operates the Mercyhurst McAuley Division Municipal Police Act 120 Training Program ("Act 120 Program") pursuant to 53 Pa. Con. Stat. §§ 740 et seq. (1995) ("Act 120"). Act 120 allows colleges and universities to be certified to operate municipal police training educational facilities, and Mercyhurst College was operating a campus police department and training program pursuant to this act at all relevant times.

 In March of 1994 the plaintiff submitted an application for admission to Mercyhurst College's Act 120 Program. In April of 1994 plaintiff was notified that he had been accepted into the Act 120 Program subject to acceptable findings with respect to the following criteria: (1) physical examination, (2) Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 ("MMPI") and psychological review, and (3) criminal record check. On May 5, 1994 plaintiff met with Lantz, a psychologist, who administered the MMPI. On May 13, 1994 plaintiff received a letter from Gregorich, Director of Mercyhurst College's Public Safety Programs, informing him that he had been accepted into the Act 120 Program. Plaintiff began taking Act 120 classes on May 23, 1994.

 Prior to applying for admission into Mercyhurst College's Act 120 Program plaintiff had been hospitalized four times for psychiatric treatment, the most recent instance being in 1992. Prior to this hospitalization plaintiff had been reviewed for a possible psychiatric disability in 1989 and 1991. Plaintiff does not state by whom this review was performed. As a result of these treatments it was determined that plaintiff did not suffer from a major Axis I psychiatric impairment, but was suffering from problems more closely associated with immaturity and emotional stress.

 On May 25, 1994 the plaintiff met with Lantz to review the results of his MMPI. Although the results were not unfavorable, Lantz informed plaintiff that the test was invalid due to plaintiff's undisclosed prior psychological problems, and that another MMPI would need to be performed. Lantz had contacted former neighbors to learn about these problems and subsequently relayed this information to Gregorich.

 A meeting between Gregorich and plaintiff was held on May 26, 1994. At this time Gregorich questioned plaintiff regarding his prior psychological problems. Plaintiff did not want to respond to Gregorich's inquiries; however, Gregorich threatened plaintiff with expulsion from the Act 120 Program in such a manner that plaintiff feared for his bodily safety. Thus, plaintiff told Gregorich that he had been treated in the past for psychological problems, but was now stable. Gregorich also demanded that plaintiff sign a release allowing Gregorich to obtain plaintiff's medical records relating to his prior psychological treatment. Plaintiff initially refused; however, Gregorich again threatened plaintiff with expulsion from the Act 120 Program. Plaintiff, fearing for both his bodily safety and his status in the Act 120 Program, consented to a check of his medical records.

 Gregorich also informed plaintiff that he was going to contact Kopko, the Sheriff of Warren County, Pennsylvania, to obtain information regarding plaintiff's past psychological problems. Previously Gregorich had run a record check with the Pennsylvania State Police and found that plaintiff did not have a criminal record.

 On May 27, 1994 plaintiff met with Gregorich to submit the name of a licensed psychologist who would administer the second MMPI. Gregorich rejected plaintiff's psychologist as being biased. When plaintiff insisted on being able to use the psychologist of his choice, Gregorich grabbed and shoved plaintiff and again threatened plaintiff with expulsion from the Act 120 Program. Resultingly, the plaintiff obtained a different psychologist, Charles H. Steinmeyer, to perform the MMPI, which the plaintiff underwent on June 4, 1994.

 On June 7, 1994, prior to receiving the written results of the second MMPI, Gregorich informed plaintiff that he was no longer a part of the Act 120 Program because Gregorich felt plaintiff constituted a risk. Gregorich also informed plaintiff his decision was, in part, based on the second MMPI. Plaintiff requested the opportunity to review the results of the second MMPI, but this request was refused.

 Pursuant to Mercyhurst College policies, plaintiff filed a grievance with Mullen, the Dean of the McAuley Division. The appeal hearing was originally scheduled for June 13, 1994; however, it was rescheduled for June 17, 1994. In the interim, and without allowing plaintiff to present his appeal, Mullen issued a written opinion dated June 13, 1994, ...


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