LEROY W. DADE, JR., Plaintiff,
GAUDENZIA DRC, INC., et al., Defendants.
January 7, 2014 Plaintiff, Leroy W. Dade, Jr. brings a pro se civil rights action against defendants, Gaudenzia DRC, Inc. (“Gaudenzia”), Shakiya Drummond, Sharronna Holmes, Melvin Thompson, Erin Sutton, and Patricia O’Connor (collectively, “defendants”). I construe Dade’s complaint and supplemental complaint as claiming a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the defendants denied him mental health treatment in violation of his right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment and in violation of his due process rights. Before me is defendants’ motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for failure to state a claim and for failing to exhaust Gaudenzia’s administrative remedies,  and Dade’s response. For the reasons set forth below, I will grant defendants’ motion.
1. Factual and Procedural Background
Dade, while a resident at the State Correctional Institute in Fayette, filed the complaint that is the basis for this action. I construed that complaint as bringing two causes of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983: (1) defendants denied Dade mental health treatment in violation of his right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment; and (2) the defendants violated Dade’s statutory rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPPA”). Dade v. Gaudenzia DRC, Inc., No. 13-1381, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94344, at *1 (E.D. Pa. July 8, 2013).
On May 17, 2013, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss Dade’s complaint, which I denied in part and granted in part. Dade’s Eighth Amendment claims against the individual defendants Sutton, Drummond, and Holmes survived the motion. Dade’s Eighth Amendment claims against Thompson and Gaudenzia were dismissed without prejudice to Dade’s right to file an amended complaint. Dade’s HIPPA claim was dismissed with prejudice.
On August 1, 2013 Dade filed a supplemental complaint adding new factual allegations in support of his Eighth Amendment claim against Thompson, and raising a new due process claim for Gaudenzia’s violation of Dade’s right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment and to receive medical treatment. On August 22, 2013 defendants renewed their motion to dismiss. Dade responded on September 20, 2013.
On March 17, 2011, Dade was placed at Gaudenzia’s mental health facility as a part of his incarceration. (Compl. 3, 4.) The individual defendants were employees at Gaudenzia during Dade’s residency. (Compl. 2, 3.) Sutton and Drummond were Dade’s in-house counselors; Thompson was his floor supervisor; and O’Connor was an administrator. (Compl. 1-2, 3.) In April 2011, while still a resident at Gaudenzia, Dade began mental health outpatient therapy at Intercommunity Action. (Compl. 3., Supplemental Exs. B, C.) Sutton, Dade’s counselor, subsequently removed him from Intercommunity Action and assigned him to an outpatient treatment group in Roxborough, Pennsylvania. (Compl. 3.) Dade was also assigned a new counselor, Drummond, who accused him of noncompliance with “Sutton[’s] recommendations and group registration at treatment in [Roxborough].” (Compl. 3.) He was thereafter assigned to outpatient therapy at the “JFK” treatment center in Philadelphia. (Compl. 3.)
Gaudenzia provides a grievance procedure to address official complaints from its residents. The procedure, as outlined in the Resident Handbook, states in full:
You have the right to utilize the Grievance Procedure regarding any treatment decisions, disciplinary actions, or violations of your rights. All grievances must be in writing and given to the Director of your program within five (5) business days of the incident you are grieving. The Director will respond to your written grievance within five (5) business days of its receipt, at which point, a meeting will be scheduled with you, the Director, and other involved parties, (i.e. Counselor, etc.) During this meeting, you will have the opportunity to explain your grievance and discuss the actions taken. A decision regarding your grievance will then be rendered by the Program Director within five (5) business [days] of this meeting. You may further grieve the decision of the Program Director to the Director of Clinical Services, by placing your grievance in writing and forwarding such to him within five (5) business days of receipt of the Program Director’s decision. The Director of Clinical Services will respond to your grievance and schedule a meeting with you. The Director of Clinical Services will render a decision within five (5) business days of the meeting, at which point, you will receive notice of his decision.
(Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. E.)
On May 3, 2011, Dade filed a “Resident Statement of Grievance” with Gaudenzia, naming Drummond and Thompson as the “staff involved” in the grievance. (Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. C.) Dade lists Thompson, O’Connor, Holmes and Drummond as all being copied on the grievance. (Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. C.) Because the content of Dade’s grievance is significant to my analysis below, I quote it in its entirety and without alteration or correction:
(1) I feel I’m constantly being Harrassed & Mis-directed for non-perticular reasons. (2) I apply my most significant and best efforts to be the best I am, in all areas of my life. (3) I assist and help on my floor responsibilities. Attend recommended groups & N/A MEETING WITH NO PROBLEMS YET BEING FALSELY ACCUSED OF NON-PARTICIPATION – CAN’T UNDERSTAND.
(Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. C.) The grievance does not contain any of the allegations in Dade’s complaint or supplement concerning denial of mental health treatment. In response to this grievance, Dade was told he “was trying to get [Holmes’] staff in trouble.” (Compl. 4.) Dade appealed the grievance to O’Connor and was denied. (Compl. 4.)
Thompson, Dade’s floor supervisor, also told Dade that “his [g]rievance was weak.” (Pl.’s Suppl. Compl. 2.) He further informed Dade that had he filed an “Inter-Community form, ” rather than a grievance, he would have been permitted to leave the facility. (Suppl. Compl. 2.) Dade claims that “Thompson was upset because [Dade] had put in a grievance on Gaudenzia staff members.” (Suppl. Compl. 7.) Thereafter, “when ...