171 F.3d 858 (3rd Cir. 1999), 98-1124, Doby v. DeCrescenzo

Docket Nº:Rebecca S. DOBY; Herbert K. Doby, Appellants in No. 98-1124,
Citation:171 F.3d 858
Case Date:March 22, 1999
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
 
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171 F.3d 858 (3rd Cir. 1999)

Rebecca S. DOBY; Herbert K. Doby, Appellants in No. 98-1124,

v.

James DeCRESCENZO; Bucks County Department of Mental Health

and Mental Retardation; Phillip M. Fenster, County

Administrator, Bucks County Department of Mental Health and

Mental Retardation, in his official capacity; Amy Bryant,

individually and in her official capacity as Delegate for

the County Administrator of the Bucks County Department of

Mental Health/Mental Retardation Lenape Valley Foundation;

Debbie Neidhardt, individually and in her official capacity

as Delegate for the County Administrator of the Bucks County

Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation;

Township of Warrington; Warrington Township Police

Department; John Bonargo, Chief of Police, Warrington

Township Police Department, in his official capacity; John

Doe, Police Officer # 1, Officer who, with police officer #

2, asked Mrs. Doby to step outside apartment at

approximately 7:00 p.m. and took Mrs. Doby in handcuffs and

shackles to the hospital, individually and in his official

capacity as police officer of Warrington Township; John

Doe, Police Officer # 2, Officer who, with police officer #

1, asked Mrs. Doby to step outside apartment at

approximately 7:00 p.m. and took Mrs. Doby in handcuffs and

shackles to the hospital, individually and in his official

capacity as police officer of Warrington Township; John

Doe, Police Officer # 3, Officer who came to the Dobys'

apartment at approximately 7:00 p.m. on December 30, 1993,

and remained at their apartment after Mrs. Doby was taken to

the hospital, individually and in his official capacity as

police officer of Warrington Township; Lenape Valley

Foundation; John C. Richards, M.D.; Doylestown Hospital;

Joseph Knox, Sergeant, of the Warrington Township Police

Department, in his official and individual capacity;

Michael Neipp, Officer, of the Warrington Township Police

Department, in his official and individual capacity;

Kenneth Hawthorn, Officer, of the Warrington Township Police

Department, in his official and individual capacity Rebecca

S. Doby; Herbert K. Doby, Appellants in No. 98-1224

v.

James DeCrescenzo; Bucks County Department of Mental Health

And Mental Retardation; Phillip M. Fenster, County

Administrator, Bucks County Department of Mental Health And

Mental Retardation, in his official capacity; Amy Bryant,

individually and in her official capacity as Delegate for

the County Administrator of the Bucks County Department of

Mental Health/Mental Retardation Lenape Valley Foundation;

Debbie Neidhardt, individually and in her official capacity

as Delegate for the County Administrator of the Bucks County

Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation;

Township of Warrington; Warrington Township Police

Department; John Bonargo, Chief of Police, Warrington

Township Police Department, in his official capacity; John

Doe, Police Officer # 1, Officer who, with police officer #

2, asked Mrs. Doby to step outside apartment at

approximately 7:00 p.m. and took Mrs. Doby in handcuffs and

shackles to the hospital, individually and in his official

capacity as police officer of Warrington Township; John

Doe, Police Officer # 2, Officer who, with police officer #

1, asked Mrs. Doby to step outside apartment at

approximately 7:00 p.m. and took Mrs. Doby in handcuffs and

shackles to the hospital, individually and in his official

capacity as police officer of Warrington Township; John

Doe, Police Officer # 3, 2 Officer who came to the Dobys'

apartment at approximately 7:00 p.m. on December 30, 1993,

and remained at their apartment after Mrs. Doby was taken to

the hospital, individually and in his official capacity as

police officer of Warrington Township; Lenape Valley

Foundation; John C. Richards, M.D.; Doylestown Hospital;

Joseph Knox, Sergeant, of the Warrington Township Police

Department, in his official and individual capacity;

Michael Neipp, Officer, of the Warrington Township Police

Department, in his official and individual capacity;

Kenneth Hawthorn, Officer, of the Warrington Township Police

Department, in his official and individual capacity.

Nos. 98-1124, 98-1224.

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

March 22, 1999

Argued Feb. 16, 1999.

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Timothy I. McCann (argued) Linda A. Carpenter, McCann & Geschke, Philadelphia, PA, for appellants.

Joseph Goldberg (argued) Peggy B. Greenfeld, Tracy A. Walsh, Margolis Edelstein, Philadelphia, PA, for appellee James DeCrescenzo.

Sean X. Kelly (argued) Marks, O'Neill, Reilly, O'Brien & Courtney, Westmont, NJ, for appellees Bucks County Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, Phillip M. Fenster, County Administrator, Bucks County Department of Mental Health And Mental Retardation, in his official capacity, and Debbie Neidhardt, individually and in her official capacity as Delegate for the County Administrator of the Bucks County Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation and Township of Warrington.

Barbara S. Magen (argued) Donald N. Camhi, Amalia V. Romanowicz, Post & Schell, Philadelphia, PA, for appellees Amy Bryant, individually and in her official capacity as Delegate for the County Administrator of the Bucks County Department of Mental Health/Mental Retardation Lenape Valley Foundation and Lenape Valley Foundation.

L. Rostaing Tharaud (argued) Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin, Philadelphia, for appellees Warrington Township Police Department, John Bonargo, Chief of Police, Warrington Township Police Department, in his official capacity, Joseph Knox, Sergeant, Warrington Township Police Department, in his official and individual capacity, Michael Neipp, Officer, of the Warrington Township Police Department, in his official and individual capacity, and Kenneth Hawthorn, Officer, Warrington Township Police Department, in his official and individual capacity.

Alan S. Gold (argued) Monaghan & Gold, Elkins Park, PA, for appellee John C. Richards, M.D.

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Marion H. Griffin (argued) Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin, Philadelphia, PA, for appellee Doylestown Hospital.

Before: GREENBERG, ROTH, and LOURIE, [*] Circuit Judges.

OPINION OF THE COURT

GREENBERG, Circuit Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Believing that his employee Rebecca Doby was suicidal, James DeCrescenzo filed a petition with the Bucks County Department of Mental Health to have her examined involuntarily under section 7302 of the Pennsylvania Mental Health Procedures Act. The appropriate county official granted the petition and issued a warrant instructing the local police to bring Doby to a nearby hospital for a psychiatric evaluation; this evaluation led to her involuntary five-day commitment. Claiming that her federal rights to due process and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures had been violated, Doby and her husband, Herbert Doby, brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the individuals involved in her commitment, including DeCrescenzo, the county, certain of its officials, the police officers who executed the warrant, and an evaluating doctor. The district court dismissed portions of the Dobys' case, entered judgment as a matter of law for the defendants before or at the trial on other claims, and subsequently denied the Dobys' post-trial motions for a new trial and for other relief. The Dobys appeal, arguing primarily that Bucks County relies upon an unconstitutional policy in processing petitions for involuntary examinations. After evaluation of the many issues involved in this case we have concluded that the county's policy in enforcing the Mental Health Procedures Act is constitutional, and that there is no other reason to reverse the orders or judgments on appeal. Consequently, we will affirm.

II. JURISDICTION

The district court had jurisdiction over the Dobys' section 1983 claims under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343 and supplemental jurisdiction over their related state law claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Because the Dobys appeal from final orders of the district court, we have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291.

III. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

A. Factual History

The chain of events at the center of this appeal commenced when Doby handed a letter to DeCrescenzo on December 22, 1993. At the time, Doby had worked for DeCrescenzo's court reporting agency for two years. She alleges that during her employment her relationship with DeCrescenzo had become intimate and included several instances of sexual contact but not sexual intercourse. DeCrescenzo denies that his relationship with Doby extended beyond friendship.

The letter in question was lengthy, 11 pages in total, and personal. It referred to abuse suffered by Doby during her childhood and described sexual conduct in which Doby wished to engage with DeCrescenzo. At the letter's conclusion, Doby also wrote that she had accomplished what she was intended to do in this lifetime and was "leaving." Alarmed by the letter's contents, DeCrescenzo consulted with his wife, his marriage counselor, and his attorney. Dr. Linda Edelstein, his marriage counselor, advised him that the letter's author was in psychiatric distress, potentially suicidal, and needed the immediate assistance of mental health professionals. On her advice, DeCrescenzo

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spoke with personnel of the Philadelphia mental health...

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