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JOHNSON v. CITY OF CHESTER

July 31, 1998

TIFFANY JOHNSON
v.
CITY OF CHESTER, et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DALZELL

MEMORANDUM

 Dalzell, J.

 July 31, 1998

 Defendants here move for dismissal of selected counts of Tiffany Johnson's complaint, which alleges violations of 28 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law claims against the City of Chester, its Mayor, Aaron Wilson, Jr., and its Commissioner of Police, Wendell Butler. The complaint alleges that defendants improperly charged Johnson with, and twice-prosecuted her unsuccessfully for, disorderly conduct arising out her statement at a City Council meeting that Mayor Wilson was an "ignorant bastard." For the reasons detailed below, we will grant defendants' motion in part, and deny it in part.

 In considering a motion to dismiss, we must under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) take all allegations contained in the complaint as true and construe them in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. H.J. Inc. v. Northwestern Bell Tel. Co., 492 U.S. 229, 249, 109 S. Ct. 2893, 2906, 106 L. Ed. 2d 195 (1989); Rocks v. City of Phila., 868 F.2d 644, 645 (3d Cir. 1989). "A court may dismiss a complaint only if it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations." Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73, 104 S. Ct. 2229, 2232, 81 L. Ed. 2d 59 (1984); see also Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S. Ct. 99, 102, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80 (1957); Frazier v. Southeastern Pa. Transp. Auth., 785 F.2d 65, 66 (3d Cir. 1986).

 I. Factual Background

 Accepting plaintiff's factual allegations as true for the purposes of this motion, the facts underlying her claim are not complicated. We quote the salient paragraphs of Johnson's complaint.

 
8. Ms. Johnson is a member of a citizens' group called Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living ("CRCQL"). On or about February 19, 1997, CRCQL sent a letter to Wilson and to council members of the City of Chester relating to CRCQL's concern that they had not attended a hearing conducted by the Department of Environmental Protection relating to a soil processing facility to be built in the City of Chester. Wilson never responded to CRCQL's letter.
 
9. On or around March 13, 1997, Ms. Johnson attended a Chester City Council meeting. Ms. Johnson questioned Wilson as to why neither he nor council members responded to CRCQL's letter. Wilson refused to answer the question, and Ms. Johnson politely persisted. Wilson continually responded by stating "I choose not to respond." He then pounded his gavel and requested that the next person speak.
 
10. Frustrated that Wilson had directly refused to answer her questions, Ms. Johnson walked away, and called Wilson an "ignorant bastard." Wilson then asked Ms. Johnson to leave the public meeting. When Ms. Johnson did not leave, Wilson adjourned the meeting.
 
11. Wilson subsequently spoke with Butler, and the two of them decided to charge Ms. Johnson with disorderly conduct. Butler subsequently followed though on his agreement with Wilson, by charging Ms. Johnson with Disorderly Conduct, 18 Pa.C.S. § 5503 [sic ].
 
. . .
 
. . .
 
14. On April 14, 1997 plaintiff was tried before the Honorable William Day. *fn1" After the first witness was sworn, it became apparent that the Commonwealth could not present a viable case. District Justice Day dismissed the charge.
 
15. Not satisfied with the result, defendants re-filed the charge against Ms. Johnson . . . . Ms. Johnson and her lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the charges on double jeopardy grounds. On June 30, 1997, the scheduled trial date, the district court dismissed the second set of charges.

 Compl. at PP8-11, 14, 15.

 On March 13, 1998, plaintiff filed this action, alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (counts one and two), conspiracy to violate § 1983 (count three), false imprisonment or arrest (count four), malicious prosecution (count five), abuse of process (count six), and intentional infliction of emotional distress (count seven).

 II. Legal Analysis

 A. More Definite Statement

 Defendants first move for a more definite statement of plaintiff's claims, arguing that "the Third Circuit has developed a more stringent standard involving civil rights cases." Mot. Dismiss at 2 (citing cases). Defendants' argument, however, fails to account for the Supreme Court's holding in Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Intelligence and Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 113 S. Ct. 1160, 122 L. Ed. 2d 517 (1993), *fn2" in which Chief Justice Rehnquist, writing for a unanimous Court, held that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "do address in Rule 9(b) the question of the need for greater particularity in pleading certain actions, but do not include among the enumerated actions any reference to complaints alleging municipal liability under § 1983. Expressio unius est exclusio alterius." Id. at 113 S. Ct. at 1163. Thus, plaintiff's claims ...


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