United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
MOTHER MILLER, et al.
THE GLEN MILLS SCHOOLS, et al.
Mother Miller, on behalf of Billy Miller as his parent and
natural guardian, and Charlie Jones bring this action
individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated
against defendants The Glen Mills Schools (“Glen
Mills”) and John Does 1-100 under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
for violations of the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth
Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. They
also assert supplemental state law claims of negligence,
intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent
infliction of emotional distress, and negligent supervision.
Plaintiffs seek damages as well as declaratory and injunctive
the court is the motion of Glen Mills to strike and dismiss
plaintiffs' class action allegations under Rules 12(f)
and 23(d)(1)(D) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and
to dismiss portions of plaintiffs' complaint for failure
to state a claim for relief under Rule 12(b)(6).
following facts are alleged in the complaint and are taken as
true for present purposes. Glen Mills is a registered
non-profit Pennsylvania corporation located in Glen Mills,
Pennsylvania. It served as a custodial facility and school
for the placement of juvenile court-adjudicated boys, aged
twelve to eighteen, and other at-risk boys. It was funded in
large part by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and other
governmental jurisdictions to provide services mandated by
state law for children who have been adjudicated as
delinquent in juvenile court. Defendants “John Does
1-100” are former managers, administrators,
supervisors, teaching staff, medical staff, and others who
have been employed or were under the control of Glen Mills.
Billy Miller (“Miller”), through his mother,
alleges that in 2016, at the age of sixteen, he was sent to
Glen Mills as a result of a court adjudication. During the
several months that Miller was at Glen Mills, Miller
experienced “frequent beatings, slamming against the
walls, and punching by staff and fellow residents.” He
was pulled out of bed, thrown on the floor, and spat upon.
Miller's mother requested and obtained a transfer of
Miller from Glen Mills to a different program. When she
picked him up at the school, he had a broken nose after being
punched by a staff member.
Jones (“Jones”) alleges that in 2018, at the age
of seventeen, he was sent to Glen Mills as a result of a
probation violation. While at Glen Mills, he
“experienced or saw beatings, slamming against the
walls, and punching by staff and fellow residents.”
Jones suffered three broken ribs from an assault by three
staff members. Staff members also encouraged Jones to engage
in a physical altercation with another resident which
resulted in Jones sustaining “large bruises and
welts.” Jones was denied medical treatment and was told
to lie about the source of his injuries.
bring this action on behalf of themselves as well as
“[h]undreds, and possibly thousands of boys [who] have
attended [Glen Mills] and been subjected to widespread abuse
occurring at the School.” Plaintiffs aver that Glen
Mills and its staff created a culture of violence and
intimidation through the systemic use of excessive force,
threats of longer sentences for those who report abuse, and
detention beyond commitment dates for those students with
injuries that would be noticed upon release from the school.
Plaintiffs point to instances of physical abuse documented by
the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services
(“PA-DHS”) and a 2001 report from the Utah
Division of Youth Corrections evaluating placements at Glen
Mills and documenting physical abuse at the school. In 2018,
the Department of Human Services of the City of Philadelphia
accepted a “corrective action plan” from Glen
Mills after counselors attacked a Philadelphia child. The
complaint also states that in 2018, two Glen Mills counselors
were arrested and charged by the Pennsylvania State Police
with aggravated assault, simple assault, and reckless
endangerment. Plaintiffs assert that all class members were
subject to a pattern or practice of similar abuse.
begin with defendants' motion to strike and dismiss
plaintiffs' class allegations under Rule 23(c)(1)(A) and
(d)(1)(D) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. See Bell v. Cheswick Generating
Station, No. 12-929, 2015 WL 401443, at *1 (W.D. Pa.
Jan. 28, 2015); Semenko v. Wendy's Int'l,
No. 12-0836, 2013 WL 1568407, at *1 (W.D. Pa. Apr. 12, 2013).
Rule 23(c)(1)(A) provides that “[a]t an early
practicable time after a person sues or is sued as a class
representative, the court must determine by order whether to
certify the action as a class action.” Under subsection
(d)(1)(D) of that rule, a court may issue orders to
“require that the pleadings be amended to eliminate
allegations about representation of absent persons and that
the action proceed accordingly.”
bring this lawsuit as a putative class action under Rules
23(a), (b)(2), and (b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. They seek to certify a class of “[a]ll
persons who have attended The Glen Mills Schools and who
suffered physical abuse or are at risk of suffering physical
abuse.” Plaintiffs have reserved the right to
amend this class definition or to create subclasses after
discovery. Although the complaint identifies one proposed
class, plaintiffs explain that they will seek to certify a
class for injunctive and declaratory relief under Rule
23(b)(2) as well as a class seeking damages pursuant to Rule
may grant a motion to dismiss or strike class allegations
before discovery only where “the complaint itself
demonstrates that the requirements for maintaining a class
action cannot be met.” Landsman & Funk PC v.
Skinder-Strauss Assocs., 640 F.3d 72, 93 n.30 (3d Cir.
2011) (citing Rios v. State Farm Fire & Cas.
Co., 469 F.Supp.2d 727, 740 (S.D. Iowa 2007)). However,
such cases are the “rare few.” See id.
To determine if the requirements of Rule 23 have been
satisfied, a district court must conduct a “rigorous
analysis.” Id. at 93 (quoting In re
Hydrogen Peroxide Antitrust Litig., 552 F.3d 305, 309
(3d Cir. 2008)). “In most cases, some level of
discovery is essential to such an evaluation.”
Id. Thus, generally class action allegations are
properly evaluated after the parties have had an opportunity
to conduct class discovery and a motion for class
certification has been filed. See, e.g., Goode v.
LexisNexis Risk & Info. Analytics Grp., 284
F.R.D. 238, 244 (E.D. Pa. 2012); P.V. ex rel. Valentin v.
Sch. Dist. of Phila., No. 11-04027, 2011 WL 5127850, at
*3 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 31, 2011); Korman v. Walking Co.,
503 F.Supp.2d 755, 762-63 (E.D. Pa. 2007).
that standard in mind, we turn to the merits of
defendants' motion. Class certification may only be
granted if the four requirements of Rule 23(a) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure are satisfied:
(a) Prerequisites. One or more members of a class may sue . .
. as representative parties on behalf of all members only if
(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is
(2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class;
(3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are
typical of the claims or ...