The opinion of the court was delivered by: KAUFFMAN
The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office has moved pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) to dismiss all Counts of the Amended Complaint brought against defendant Richard Roe ("Roe").
Roe was named by plaintiff Raymond Carter ("Carter") both in his official and individual capacities. For the reasons set forth below, this Court finds that the official capacity claims against Roe are barred because, when performing its investigatory and prosecutorial functions, the District Attorney's Office is an arm of the State protected from suit in federal court by the Eleventh Amendment. The Court also concludes that Carter's individual capacity claims against Roe fail to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Accordingly, the District Attorney's Motion to Dismiss all claims against Roe is GRANTED.
On September 26, 1997, Carter filed an Amended Complaint against Roe, the City of Philadelphia, three Philadelphia Police officers -- Thomas Ryan, Wayne Settle, and Michael Duffy -- and a fourth, unidentified "John Doe" employee of the Philadelphia Police Department. Carter has sued all of the individual defendants, identified and unidentified, in both their official and individual capacities.
Carter alleges that following the September, 1986, barroom murder of a Robert Harris, Officer Thomas Ryan of the 39th Precinct introduced Settle, Duffy, Doe, and Roe to Pamela Jenkins, a woman with whom Ryan allegedly had a longstanding relationship. The Amended Complaint identifies Settle, Duffy, Doe and Roe as "the Homicide Detectives investigating the Harris murder." [Compl. PP11, 12].
Officer Ryan allegedly paid Jenkins an unspecified sum of money to inform the "homicide detectives" that she had witnessed Carter shoot Harris and to so testify at Carter's trial. [Compl. P13]. Carter contends that because of defendants' alleged failure to investigate the information provided by Jenkins, he was wrongly convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. [Compl. PP15-17].
Following a 1996 post-conviction hearing, the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas found that Jenkins' status as a paid informant had not been disclosed to Carter. Even though the Court found that the District Attorney's Office was not aware that Jenkins had been paid, it nevertheless concluded that the failure to disclose violated the Supreme Court's holding in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 10 L. Ed. 2d 215, 83 S. Ct. 1194 (1963), and ordered a new trial. In vacating Carter's conviction, however, the Court expressly noted on the record that it had not found Carter to be innocent of the Harris murder. On December 30, 1996, following the District Attorney's decision to nolle prosse the case without prejudice, Carter was released from prison. [Compl. P19].
Carter now claims that his conviction was "proximately caused by the following policies, practices, customs or usages of the City as adopted by its duly authorized agents":
a. Failure to train the City's police officers in the use of paid informants in homicide cases;
b. Failure to monitor and/or investigate the use of paid informants as trial witnesses in homicide cases;
c. Failure to provide the Police Department or the Office of District Attorney adequate funding to investigate corruption by police officers in procuring and providing tainted evidence to the Office of District Attorney for use in homicide cases;
d. Failure to discipline or prosecute known incidents of police officers procuring and providing to the District Attorney's Office tainted evidence for use in homicide prosecutions;
e. Refusing to investigate or inadequately investigating complaints of the use of tainted evidence in homicide prosecutions;
f. Concealing or withholding from those wrongfully arrested, convicted and/or imprisoned in homicide cases information known to the City which would enable such wrongfully arrested, convicted and imprisoned persons to secure post-conviction relief.
[Compl. P20 (emphasis added)].
Carter asserts that these alleged policies of the City "were unconstitutional or, if constitutional, were deliberately indifferent to the constitutional and other rights of Carter and others similarly situated." [Compl. P21]. Based on these allegations, the Amended Complaint purports to state causes of action against Roe, in his official and individual capacities, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count I), 42 U.S.C. § 1985 (Count II),
Article I, §§ 1, 9, 13 & 26 of the Pennsylvania Constitution (Count III), and state law claims for abuse of process (Count IV), malicious use of process (Count V), false arrest (Count VI), false imprisonment (Count VII), invasion of privacy (Count VIII), and negligent infliction of emotional distress (Count IX).
A. The Standard of Review
A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint. Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993). In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court must accept as true the complaint's well-pleaded allegations and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 40 L. Ed. 2d 90, 94 S. Ct. 1683 (1974); Jordan v. Fox, Rothschild, O'Brien & Frankel, 20 F.3d 1250, 1261 (3d Cir. 1994). The Court must also accept as true any reasonable inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged in the complaint. Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 (3d Cir. 1994).
This advantage is not absolute, however, and "legal conclusions, deductions or opinions couched as factual allegations are not given a presumption of truthfulness." Plater-Zyberk v. Abraham, 1998 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1736, *8, 1998 WL 67545, *3 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 17, 1998) (Hutton, J.) (quoting Government Guarantee Fund v. Hyatt Corp., 35 V.I. 356, 955 F. Supp. 441, 448 (D.V.I. 1997)). See also Wright & Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 1357 (2d ed. 1997). The Court may only grant the motion if, after viewing the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, "it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which ...