stated a claim within the Court's federal question jurisdiction, it would arise under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. 1983.
In deciding whether to grant a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept all factual allegations contained in the complaint as true, and view any reasonable inferences that can be drawn from those allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Wisniewski v. Johns-Manville Corp., 759 F.2d 271, 273 (3rd Cir. 1985). "[A] court cannot expect a complaint to provide proof of [plaintiff's] claims, nor a proffer of all available evidence." Frazier v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, 785 F.2d 65, 68 (3rd Cir. 1985). A complaint may properly be dismissed only if "it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of [her] claim which would entitle [her] to relief." Wisniewski, 759 F.2d at 273.
In civil rights cases, the Third Circuit has instructed that a plaintiff may not reasonably be expected "to be familiar at the complaint stage with the full range of the defendants' practices under challenge," but "plaintiffs may be expected to know the injuries they allegedly have suffered." Id. The Court notes as well that it may not "apply a 'heightened pleading standard' - more stringent than the usual pleading requirements of Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure - in civil rights cases alleging municipal liability under . . . 42 U.S.C. 1983." Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Intelligence and Coordination Unit, 122 L. Ed. 2d 517, 113 S. Ct. 1160, 1161 (1993); Loftus v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, 843 F. Supp. 981, 982 (E.D.Pa. 1994). A section 1983 complaint will survive a motion to dismiss if it "alleges the specific conduct violating the plaintiff's rights, the time and place of the conduct, and the identity of the responsible officials." Colburn v. Upper Darby Township, 838 F.2d 663, 666 (3rd Cir. 1988).
The City argues that because Ms. Young's original complaint was not filed until May 17, 1993, claims arising from all but the last incident, on May 31, 1991, are time barred.
The Court agrees. A statute of limitations defense may be considered within the context of a motion to dismiss "where the complaint facially shows noncompliance with the limitations period and the affirmative defense clearly appears on the face of the pleading." Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 (3rd Cir. 1994). "The appropriate limitations period for section 1983 claim [sic] is Pennsylvania's two-year statute of limitations applicable to personal injury actions, 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 5524." Bougher v. University of Pittsburgh, 882 F.2d 74, 78 (3rd Cir. 1989). Where the conduct plaintiff complains of occurred outside of the limitations period, section 1983 claims based on that conduct are barred by the statute of limitations. Id. at 79. Therefore, only the incident which took place on May 31, 1991 may properly form the basis of a section 1983 action against the City.
The City next argues that Ms. Young's complaint must be dismissed because she has failed to allege the existence of a "policy, custom, or course of conduct" which is causally connected to her alleged injury and "sufficient to state any cause of action under s. 1983." Def.'s Br. at 8.
It is well settled that municipal liability under s. 1983 "may not be proven under the respondeat superior doctrine, but must be founded upon evidence that the government unit itself supported a violation of constitutional rights." Bielevicz v. Dubinon, 915 F.2d 845, 850 (3rd Cir. 1990)(citing Monell v. New York City Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 691-95, 56 L. Ed. 2d 611, 98 S. Ct. 2018 (1978)). In addition, "proof of the mere existence of an unlawful policy or custom is not enough to maintain a s. 1983 action. A plaintiff bears the additional burden of proving that the municipal practice was the proximate cause of the injuries suffered." Id. While the policy itself need not be unconstitutional, it must reflect, at least, a "deliberate indifference to the rights of persons with whom the police come into contact." City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 109 S. Ct. 1197, 1204, 103 L. Ed. 2d 412 (1989).
The Court agrees that Young has failed to allege the existence of a municipal policy or custom. The Third Circuit has stated:
Policy is made when a 'decisionmaker possessing final authority to establish municipal policy with respect to the action' issues an official proclamation, policy or edict. Custom on the other hand, can be proven by showing that a given course of conduct although not specifically endorsed or authorized by law, is so well-settled and permanent as virtually to constitute law. In either instance, a plaintiff must show that an official who has the power to make policy is responsible for either the affirmative proclamation of a policy or acquiescence in a well-settled custom.