Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

AGRESTA v. CITY OF PHILADELPHIA

August 23, 1988

STEPHEN AGRESTA
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: VAN ANTWERPEN

 FRANKLIN S. VAN ANTWERPEN, District Judge.

 Before the court is the city defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint. In the introduction to the motion, the "city defendants" are said to be: Sambor, Tucker, Gillespie, Fitzpatrick, Doman, Baker, "several unknown police officers", the City of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Police Department. In the interest of clarity, we shall address seriatim those claims and those defendants whom these defendants seek to have dismissed from this action.

 Dismissal of Claims Under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1986 and 1988 Against All Defendants

 Since the plaintiff states that he is unopposed to such dismissal, the defendants' motion to dismiss is granted as to all defendants insofar as the motion pertains to the plaintiff's causes of action under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1986 and 1988.

 Dismissal of Defendant Police Department of Philadelphia

 The complaint is dismissed as to the named defendant, "The Police Department of the City of Philadelphia". The complaint shall be dismissed as to this defendant "because it does not have a separate corporate existence; suits against the [Police] department 'shall be in the name of the City of Philadelphia.' Pa. Stat. Ann. tit. 53, § 16257 (Purdon 1957)." Baldi v. City of Philadelphia, 609 F. Supp. 162, 168 (E.D. Pa. 1985).

 Dismissal of "Unknown Police Officer Defendants "

 With regard to the defendants' motion to dismiss as it pertains to "unknown police officer defendants", that part of the defendants' motion shall be granted because there are no such defendants in the case. "Unknown police officers" have not been named among the defendants in the title of the action found in the caption of the complaint, as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(a). *fn1"

 Dismissal of Claim Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Against Defendants Doman, Baker, Gillespie, Fitzpatrick, Sambor and Tucker

 With regard to the defendants' motion to dismiss as it pertains to defendants Doman, Baker, Gillespie, Fitzpatrick, Sambor and Tucker, we wish to point out that the plaintiff in the instant case is Stephen Agresta. The focus, therefore, must be on who did what to Stephen Agresta and not to his deceased brother Samuel. The long complaint contains a mixture of allegations concerning alleged illegal conduct directed at both Stephen and Samuel Agresta. Stephen has standing only to seek redress of the harm directed at him. We shall, therefore, examine only those paragraphs where defendants Doman, Baker, Gillespie, Fitzpatrick, Sambor and Tucker are alleged to have engaged in illegal conduct towards Stephen Agresta.

 Generally speaking, "a complaint should not be dismissed 'unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief.' Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S. Ct. 99, 101-102, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80 (1957)." Iseley v. Bucks County, 549 F. Supp. 160, 168 (E.D. Pa. 1982). When it comes to complaints arising from civil rights statutes, however, a higher degree of specificity has been required by the Third Circuit. It has been said that "vague and conclusory allegations in a civil rights complaint will not survive a motion to dismiss. Hall v. Pennsylvania State Police, 570 F.2d 86, 89 (3d Cir. 1978)." Id.

 The following paragraphs contain relevant mention of either one or all of defendants Doman, Baker, Gillespie and Fitzpatrick by name: #32, 34, 63, and 83. The following paragraphs refer to "the police defendants", "all defendants acting as Philadelphia police officers", or "all defendants", terms which by implication would include Doman, Baker, Gillespie and Fitzpatrick: #31, 65, 66, 74, 86, 88, 89, 90, 93, 95, 97, 98, and 99. Unfortunately, all of these paragraphs are either vague, conclusory, or lump all the defendants together so that it is impossible to tell with specificity which defendants are responsible for which acts.

 The following paragraph #31 provides an example of vagueness:

 
"31. While in custody, Stephen Agresta heard several conversations between Spurka and the police defendants named herein wherein Spurka repeated his lies to the police regarding the 'mafia' connections of Samuel and Stephen Agresta and their father, Samuel Agresta, Sr.; that Samuel Agresta, Sr. had a store in South Philadelphia next to Vento's and that the father and sons were 'connected' (had 'mafia connections'). Spurka told the police that they could never catch Samuel Agresta, that he was too fast and his father Samuel Agresta, Sr. was too 'connected' for it to do any good. The police defendants stated to Spurka that they could catch Samuel Agresta, Jr. and that they could 'take care' of the Agrestas."

 The rest of the paragraphs are either conclusory or lack specificity as to particular defendants. Paragraph #63 will provide an example of the conclusory nature of these paragraphs:

 
"63. Plaintiff avers on information and belief that the defendant Carroll and/or the Philadelphia Police Department and/or Baker and/or Fitzpatrick and/or Gillespie and/or Doman and/or other unknown police officers at the request and in conspiracy with all defendants, knowingly falsified the facts set forth in the affidavit of probable cause for the issuance of the arrest warrant and formally arrested Stephen Agresta in order to justify the ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.