(3d Cir. 1997)
(internal quotations omitted). Further, a complaint may be dismissed
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) where a defendant argues that he is entitled to
immunity, even though immunity is generally characterized as an
affirmative defense. Moser v. Bascelli, 865 F. Supp. 249, 252 (E.D.Pa.
1994), aff'd, 70 F.3d 1256 (3d Cir. 1995). We apply the above principles
to Plaintiff's claims against each Defendant in turn.
II. Claims Against DHS and YSC
To begin, we will grant the Moving Defendants' Motion with respect to
all claims brought against DHS and YSC. Neither DHS or YSC has an
independent corporate existence from the City of Philadelphia;
therefore, all claims against them must be brought in the name of the
City. See 53 P.S. § 16257; Regalbuto v. City of Philadelphia,
937 F. Supp. 374, 377 (E.D.Pa. 1995) (dismissing claims against Philadelphia
police and fire departments); Duvall v. Borough of Oxford, Civ. A. No.
90-0629, 1992 WL 59163, at *2 (E.D.Pa. Mar. 19, 1992) (dismissing claim
against county prison).
III. State Law Claims
As noted above, Plaintiff alleges a number of common law claims
against the City of Philadelphia, Reeves, and Holmes. The Moving
Defendants argue that the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act,
42 Pa. C.S.A. § 8541, et seq., ("the Tort Claims Act") provides
them with immunity to these types of claims. We agree.
The Tort Claims Act makes local governments and their employees immune
to suit, except as provided for in eight narrow statutory exceptions.
See §§ 8541-8545. None of Plaintiff's several claims against the
Moving Defendants is conceivably within the Tort Claims Act's
exceptions. See § 8542(b) (listing exceptions). As a result, we will
grant the Moving Defendants, Motion with respect to these claims.*fn1
IV. Federal Law Claims
Plaintiff also alleges that the Moving Defendants have violated his
federally protected civil rights under the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and
Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and
42 U.S.C. § 1983. Although it is not explicitly
stated as such, we understand Plaintiff to be making his claims against
(1) the City of Philadelphia, (2) Reeves and Holmes in their official
capacities, and (3) Reeves and Holmes in their individual capacities.
First, viewing the allegations in the light most favorable to
Plaintiff, it appears that Plaintiff has stated at least the minimum
necessary to make out a § 1983 claim against the City of
Philadelphia. See Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658,
98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978). Consequently, we will deny the
Moving Defendants' Motion with respect to § 1983 claims against the
City of Philadelphia.
Second, it also appears that the same allegations suffice to state a
§ 1983 against Reeves and Holmes in their official capacities.
However, because claims against individual defendants in their official
capacities are equivalent to claims against the governmental entity
itself, they are redundant and may be dismissed. See Hafer v. Melo,
502 U.S. 21, 25, 112 S.Ct. 358, 116 L.Ed.2d 301 (1991) ("Suits against state
officials in their official capacity . . . should be treated as suits
against the State."); Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 169 n. 14, 105
S.Ct. 3099, 87 L.Ed.2d 114 (1985) ("There is no longer a need to bring
official-capacity actions against local government officials, for under
local government units can be sued directly for damages");
Satterfield v. Borough of Schuylkill Haven, 12 F. Supp.2d 423, 432
(E.D.Pa. 1998) (dismissing official-capacity claims as redundant); Scott
C. v. Bethlehem Area Sch. Dist., Civ. A. No. 00-CV-642, 2000 WL 1201345,
at *3 (E.D.Pa. Aug. 9, 2000) (same). As a result, we will grant the
Moving Defendants' Motion with respect to the official-capacity §
1983 claims against Reeves and Holmes.
Finally, in regard to the individual-capacity claims, Plaintiff has not
adequately alleged that any of Reeves or Holmes's actions were beyond the
reasonable scope of their official capacities. Under the doctrine of
qualified immunity, "government officials performing discretionary
functions generally are shielded from liability for civil damages insofar
as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or
constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known."
Rouse v. Plantier, 182 F.3d 192, 196 (3d Cir. 1999) (quoting Harlow v.
Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818, 102 S.Ct. 2727, 73 L.Ed.2d 396 (1982)). It
is clear from Plaintiff's Complaint that all actions taken by Reeves or
Holmes vis-~-vis Plaintiff were within the reasonable scope of their
discretion and authority as City officials. As such, they are immune from
liability as individuals. See Hafer, 502 U.S. at 25-26 (noting that
officials sued in personal capacity may assert personal immunity
defenses); Harlow, 457 U.S. at 818. Accordingly, we will grant the Moving
Defendants' Motion with respect to personal-capacity § 1983 claims
against Reeves and Holmes.*fn2
V. Punitive Damages
Finally, Plaintiff requests punitive damages against the Moving
Defendants. Because we have dismissed both the state and federal claims
against all Moving Defendants as individuals, the only claims remaining
are those against the City of Philadelphia. The law is clear that
punitive damages are not available against a municipality under §
1983. See 42 U.S.C. § 1981a(a)(2), (b)(1); City of Newport v. Fact
Concerts, 453 U.S. 247, 267-71, 101 S.Ct. 2748, 69 L.Ed.2d 616 (1981).
Accordingly, we will grant the Moving Defendants' Motion with respect to
For the foregoing reasons, we will grant the Moving Defendants'
Motion in part
and deny it in part. An appropriate order follows.