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Johnson v. Doe

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

April 29, 2014

DETECTIVE JOHN DOE, et al., Defendants.



Presently before this Court is Defendant, MHM Correctional Services', Motion to Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint filed by Plaintiff, Reginald Johnson, acting as the Administrator of the Estate of James Alton Stephens, Plaintiff's Response in Opposition, Defendant's Reply and Plaintiff's Sur-Reply thereto. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's Motion is granted.


A. The Parties

Plaintiff, Reginald Johnson ("Plaintiff"), is the Administrator of the Estate of James Alton Stephens (the "Deceased"). Second Am. Compl. ¶ 1. The Deceased was a resident of 6329 North Norwood Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and passed away on or around June 3, 2011. Id.

Defendant, MHM Correctional Services, Inc. ("Defendant"), is a corporation that provides mental health services for pretrial detainees and inmates housed in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania prison system.[1] Id . ¶ 27. Defendant's headquarters is located in Vienna, Virginia, with a local office situated at 8101 State Road in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Id.

B. Factual History

The following facts are alleged by Plaintiff. On or about May 20, 2011, the Deceased was arrested by the Philadelphia Police Department following an incident involving an altercation between the Deceased, the Deceased's two children and several females inside the Deceased's home. Id . ¶¶ 29-30. The Deceased was charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, criminal conspiracy, possession of an instrument of crime and recklessly endangering another person. Id . ¶ 31. The Deceased was formally arraigned on these charges on May 21, 2011. Id . Subsequent to the Deceased's arraignment and his failure to post bail, the Deceased was transferred to Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility ("CFCF"). Id . ¶ 32. The Deceased was forty-eight years (48) old and had never been incarcerated prior to his arrest. Id . ¶ 34. Shortly after arriving at CFCF, the Deceased began exhibiting signs of erratic and psychotic behavior. Id . During the initial screening and evaluation of the Deceased by an intake worker at CFCF, whom Plaintiff believes is an employee of either Defendant or Corizon Healthcare Services, Inc. ("Corizon"), it was noted that the Deceased appeared to be "very psychotic - talking to people who were not there, " was crying, exhibiting bizarre behavior, and that his thought process was illogical, tangential and easily derailed.[2] Id.

On May 22, 2011, the Deceased was evaluated by members of Defendant's staff.[3] Id . ¶ 35. The mental health evaluator employed by Defendant confirmed that the Deceased's thinking was delusional, his behavior was bizarre, and that he posed a risk of suicide. Id.

The Deceased was released from CFCF on May 23, 2011. Id . At this time, there was no direct contact with members of the Deceased's family informing them of his mental health condition or of his release from incarceration. Id . The Deceased's common law wife, Tina Peterson ("Peterson"), did not discover that he had been released from CFCF until a later time. Id . ¶ 36. Upon learning of the release, Peterson, with the help of family and friends, began a search for the Deceased. Id.

On June 3, 2011, the Deceased's decomposed body was found behind the Fire Academy on Pennypack Avenue in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Id . ¶ 37. There were no apparent outward signs of trauma. Id . The Office of the Medical Examiner eventually determined the cause of death to be drowning. Id . ¶ 38.

C. Procedural History

On May 17, 2013, Plaintiff filed a federal lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983, 42 U.S.C. § 1988, the Fourth Amendment, the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Pennsylvania state law against numerous Defendants. See Compl. Defendant was not included as one of the numerous Defendants listed in the Complaint; however, Plaintiff did name Corizon and several unnamed employees of Corizon in their official and unofficial capacities. Id.

During a phone call with counsel for Corizon on July 8, 2013, Plaintiff's counsel was notified that Defendant, and not Corizon, provided the mental health services to the Philadelphia prison system. (See Pl.'s Second Mot. to Am. Compl.) More than two months later, counsel for Plaintiff had a copy of the Complaint hand delivered and emailed to local counsel for Defendant. (Id.)

On September 13, 2013, Plaintiff submitted a Motion for Leave to Amend the Complaint in order to substitute Defendant in place of Corizon Correctional Healthcare, Inc. as a Defendant in the suit. (See Pl.'s Mot. for Leave to Am.) The Motion was granted, and the Complaint was subsequently amended on October 2, 2003. (See First Am. Compl.) More than a month later, Plaintiff requested leave to amend the Complaint for a second time in order to correct an error in the First Amended Complaint. (See Second Am. ...

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