Mondelli v. Berkeley Heights Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, No. 18-2193 (3d Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Mondelli suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and major depression. During his daily 12-hour visits with his mother at Berkeley Heights, Mondelli allegedly observed inadequate care. Mondelli regularly complained to staff, the New Jersey Board of Health, and the Office of the Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly. After several contentious visits, including police calls, Mondelli’s visits were limited to one to two hours per day in the lobby. Mondelli’s mother died.
Mondelli filed suit, claiming ADA violations and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Despite several deadline extensions, Mondelli never cooperated in discovery. Mondelli explained that he suffers from various physical and mental health conditions; was found incompetent to stand trial in the Municipal Court of Fanwood; and has been unable to properly communicate with his lawyer. Mondelli supplied letters from physicians and a psychiatrist. The case was administratively terminated for 180 days, after which Mondelli moved to reopen. The district court denied Mondelli’s motion and, weighing the “Poulis” factors, dismissed his complaint with prejudice, finding that Mondelli was personally responsible for his failure to prosecute; that defendants were prejudiced by his failure to prosecute; that Mondelli had a history of dilatoriness; that no sanction other than dismissal would be appropriate; and that Mondelli’s ADA claim lacked merit.
The Third Circuit vacated. There was verifiable evidence that placed Mondelli’s competency at issue; the court must examine his competency, as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 17.