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OVERTON v. SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA TRANSPORTATION AUTH.

June 3, 2004.

NORMAN OVERTON, Plaintiff
v.
SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CYNTHIA RUFE, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This case comes before the Court on Plaintiff Norman Overton's Motion for Leave of Court to File an Amended Complaint and Defendant Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority's ("SEPTA") Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Motion is granted and SEPTA's Motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

  The following facts are taken from the Complaint and proposed amended complaint and accepted as true for the Court's consideration of the instant motions. On March 18, 2002, Plaintiff traveled to downtown Philadelphia on SEPTA's R-8 train to obtain a replacement for his senior citizen's SEPTA card which had been lost. While Plaintiff was on the train, the SEPTA train conductor gave him a "hard time" because Plaintiff did not have his senior citizen's SEPTA card. When the R-8 train arrived at Suburban Station, SEPTA Police Officer Arthur Brown "stopped, assaulted and arrested" Plaintiff and transported him to SEPTA's Suburban Station office.*fn1 At the station office, the train conductor identified Plaintiff as "one of the troublemakers," following which Officer Brown pushed Plaintiff against a glass wall, twisted Plaintiff's arms behind his back, and handcuffed him.*fn2 Officer Brown then transported Plaintiff to the SEPTA transit police station where he remained handcuffed for twenty to thirty minutes. It is unclear from the complaint how and when Plaintiff was released from custody.

  II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

  On February 5, 2004, Plaintiff filed a complaint in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas (the "Original Complaint") against SEPTA only, asserting seven causes of action: 1) negligence; 2) assault and battery; 3) intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED"); 4) violation of Article I, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution; 5) false arrest; 6) violation of Article I, Section 26 of the Pennsylvania Constitution; and 7) a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On March 2, 2004, SEPTA removed this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441.

  On March 22, 2004, SEPTA filed the instant Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, arguing that: 1) SEPTA is entitled to sovereign immunity on the state law causes of action; 2) no private cause of action for damages exists for violations of Article I, Sections 1 and 26 of the Pennsylvania Constitution; and 3) Plaintiff's complaint did not properly assert the elements required by Monell v. Department of Social Services of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), to establish liability against a government agency for violations of civil rights.

  On March 26, 2004, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint ("Proposed Amended Complaint I") without seeking leave of Court. Proposed Amended Complaint I asserted only three causes of action: 1) false arrest; 2) assault and battery; and 3) a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff also added as defendants two Doe SEPTA conductors and three Doe SEPTA Transit Police Officers. In addition, Plaintiff alleged, as required by Monell, that SEPTA's actions were pursuant to a SEPTA custom, practice or policy. On April 1, 2004, Plaintiff filed his Response to SEPTA's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, arguing only that Proposed Amended Complaint I remedied any shortcomings raised in SEPTA's motion.

  On April 16, 2004, SEPTA filed a Motion to Strike Proposed Amended Complaint I, alleging that: 1) Plaintiff's Monell claim is barred by the statute of limitations; 2) Plaintiff's state law claims are barred by SEPTA's sovereign immunity; and 3) Plaintiff did not obtain leave of Court to file Proposed Amended Complaint I as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a).

  On April 30, 2004, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint. The proposed amended complaint accompanying this Motion ("Proposed Amended Complaint II") adds Officer Brown as a defendant and removes the Doe defendants but is otherwise identical to Proposed Amended Complaint I. Plaintiff cites no legal authority in support of his motion, stating only that he should be allowed to amend his complaint to add Officer Brown because he did not become aware of Officer Brown's identity until March 29, 2004, when SEPTA made its Rule 26 initial disclosures.

  On May 3, 2004, the Court granted SEPTA's Motion to Strike and ordered Proposed Amended Complaint I stricken from the record. The Court reserved judgment on Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint until receipt of SEPTA's response thereto. On May 14, 2004, SEPTA filed its response, so Plaintiff's Motion is ripe for the Court's consideration along with SEPTA's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. III. DISCUSSION

  A. Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint*fn3

  In Proposed Amended Complaint II, Plaintiff makes three significant amendments to his Original Complaint: 1) the removal of his causes of action for negligence, IIED and violations of the Pennsylvania Constitution; 2) the modification of his § 1983 claim to comply with Monell; and 3) the addition of Officer Brown as a defendant. The first amendment does not warrant discussion as SEPTA does not object to the removal of ...


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