Dubovsky, ex rel. Estate of Dubovsky v. City of Philadelphia
No. Civ.A.04-CV-467, 2005 WL 113016 (E.D. Pa. 2005)
Plaintiff's adopted son William had FAS and mental health problems. As a teenager, William lived in a full-time residential services program (the "Lodge"). William's mental illness did not improve while at the Lodge and became so acute that he voluntarily signed himself into Friend's Hospital--an institution that provides inpatient and partial hospital services to individuals suffering from mental illness. Upon his discharge from Friend's Hospital, William returned to the Lodge, but failed to receive the one-on-one supervision that was promised to him by the Philadelphia Office of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. Shortly after returning to the Lodge, William wandered away unescorted, was struck by a car and died. Plaintiff filed a Section 1983 suit, claiming that the City's failure to provide William adequate care violated William's due process rights. The court held that the "custodial relationship" exception to the general rule that the Due Process Clause does not afford the right to government protection did not apply because William voluntarily placed himself into a custodial relationship with the government. In addition, the court held that the "state-created danger" exception did not apply in this case because although the City could have minimized the danger William was in, the City did not create that danger. The fact of William's FAS diagnosis was not discussed in the court's decision.