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James M. Singer v. Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs

November 20, 2012

JAMES M. SINGER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BUREAU OF PROFESSIONAL AND OCCUPATIONAL AFFAIRS, STATE BOARD OF PSYCHOLOGY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (judge Caputo)

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 8) filed by Defendants the Pennsylvania Board of Psychology (the "Board"), John Kelly, and Frank Monaco (collectively "Defendants"). In this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action, Plaintiff James Singer claims that he has been deprived of various constitutional rights before and since his license to practice psychology was suspended in 1992. Essentially, Plaintiff alleges that the suspension of his license was the culmination of a conspiracy stemming from his report of suspected child abuse, and that the conspiracy is still ongoing. Defendants have moved to dismiss the Complaint on the basis that the claims are all barred by the statute of limitations. In opposition, Plaintiff contends that the claims are timely pursuant to the continuing violations doctrine. Because the untimeliness of Plaintiff's claims is apparent from the face of the Complaint, Defendants' motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure will be granted.

I. Background

The facts as alleged in the Complaint are as follows:*fn1

In August 1986, Plaintiff, while working as a consulting physician at Maple Avenue Hospital, received a complaint from a patient that she was being sexually abused by her father. (Compl., ¶¶ 15, 17.) These accusations were made by the patient in front of multiple witnesses. (Id. at ¶ 18.) Plaintiff subsequently contacted Children's Services in Clearfield County to report the suspected abuse. (Id. at ¶ 19.) Within twenty-four (24) hours, the patient was placed by Children's Services with her aunt. (Id. at ¶ 20.) Also that day, Plaintiff received a threatening phone call from the patient's father. (Id. at ¶ 21.) Approximately three (3) weeks later, the patient gave Plaintiff a series of diary entries which detailed the ongoing sexual abuse. (Id. at ¶ 22.)

Thereafter, on or about April 23, 1987, the patient contacted Plaintiff to inform him that her father "was going to get him." (Id. at ¶ 24.) The same day, Plaintiff received a referral to evaluate and provide treatment to Allen Muth. (Id. at ¶ 25.) Mr. Muth refused to take the medication prescribed by his treating physician. (Id. at ¶ 26.) Based on this and other factors, Plaintiff refused Mr. Muth treatment. (Id. at ¶ 27.) Later, Mr. Muth falsely alleged to the Board that Plaintiff claimed that Mr. Muth "was going to die." (Id. at ¶ 28.) Plaintiff then learned that Mr. Muth was a friend of the patient's father. (Id. at ¶ 29.)

Eventually, the patient's father solicited six additional individuals to file complaints against Plaintiff. (Id. at ¶ 30.) Yet, no criminal charges were ever filed. (Id.)

Plaintiff subsequently learned that Clearfield County Children's Services had failed to investigate the purported sexual abuse between the patient and her father. (Id. at ¶ 31.) As such, Plaintiff referred the matter to the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare and the Offices of the Attorney General and the Governor of Pennsylvania. (Id.)

Because he reported the matter to the Department of Welfare and the Governor and Attorney General's Offices, Plaintiff received a threatening telephone call from Tom Zook. (Id. at ¶ 32.) On January 11, 1988, two individuals claiming to be from "the psychological licensing board of Pennsylvania" delivered five poorly written complaints to Plaintiff at his home. (Id. at ¶ 33.) Then, on August 9, 1988, Plaintiff was served a Show Cause Order from the Board, containing fifty-eight (58) counts, as to why his license should not be revoked. (Id. at ¶ 35.)

A hearing was held on these charges in September 1990. (Id. at ¶ 36.) Defendant Kelly was staff counsel for the Board tasked with the responsibility of prosecuting the case against Plaintiff. (Id. at ¶ 97.) Before, during, and subsequent to the hearing, Defendant Kelly denied Plaintiff's discovery requests without reason, and he attempted to intimidate Plaintiff. (Id. at ¶ 98.)

Additionally, several witness perjured themselves at the September 1990 hearing according to a report by Lieutenant Ivan Hoover. (Id. at ¶ 37.) Lieutenant Hoover's report also claimed witnesses and investigators obstructed justice, engaged in official oppression, tampered with evidence, and provided unsworn falsifications to authorities. (Id. at ¶ 38.) Nevertheless, the Board never appointed an independent hearing officer nor assigned an Administrative Law Judge to Plaintiff's case. (Id. at ¶ 39.) Plaintiff was ultimately found guilty by the Board on six (6) of the fifty-eight (58) charges. (Id. at ¶ 41.)

Defendant Monaco was assigned to review an investigative report submitted by Lieutenant Hoover regarding the reported sexual abuse of the patient during this time. (Id. at ¶ 105.) But, Defendant Monaco never forwarded the report through proper channels for investigation. (Id. at ¶ 106.) And, Defendant Monaco insisted that the matter involving the patient's father be closed based on a consent degree signed by Plaintiff, even though a consent decree never existed. (Id.)

Ultimately, on October 26, 1992, the Board suspended Plaintiff's license, but stayed the suspension, instead putting him on probation. (Id. at ¶ 42.) But, after Plaintiff appealed the Board's determination to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, the Board reversed course and immediately suspended Plaintiff's license. (Id. at ¶¶ 43-44.) The Commonwealth Court denied the appeal on the basis that the issues raised by Plaintiff were not properly preserved for appeal. (Id. at ¶ 45.)

Plaintiff, in October 1994, then unsuccessfully commenced a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action in this Court. (Id. at ¶ 47.) Plaintiff has since filed four unsuccessful actions in this Court based on the aforementioned allegations. (Id. at ¶ 48.) The most ...


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