The opinion of the court was delivered by: A. CAPUTO, District Judge
Before me is Defendants Borough of Dickson City ("Borough"),
Paul Kwiec, William Stadnitski, and Philip Davitt's (collectively
"Defendants") Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Doc. 16.)
For reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss will
be granted in part and denied in part.
The Amended Complaint alleges that the Plaintiffs, Dean Sposto
and Kevin Sposto, are the owners of Millennium Packaging Service,
Inc. ("Millennium") (collectively "Plaintiffs"), and that
Millennium has a facility in Dickson City, Pennsylvania. They
allege that they are aligned with the so-called Majority Faction
in Dickson City politics. They allege on the other hand, Paul
Kwiec is a member of the Minority Faction, and a minority member
of Dickson City council, and that William Stadnitski is the
Police Chief of Dickson City, and is aligned with the Minority
Faction. Phillip Davitt is a patrolman on the Dickson City Police
force. Plaintiffs allege that these political alignments and
consequent differences of opinion are at the root of the Plaintiffs' claims.
Plaintiffs allege that they secured a building permit in June,
2004, and that Chief Stadnitski and Patrolman Davitt undertook to
investigate whether it was ever issued, and/or whether it was
issued properly.*fn1 In addition to writing letters to the
Zoning Board of Dickson City, letters were also written to the
Department of Labor & Industry of the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania. At the same time, Chief Stadnitski made statements
to the media to the effect that he was investigating a
discrepancy in the dates and "we think things have been tampered
with but we can't prove it." Councilman Kwiec is alleged to have
said [the issuance of the permit] "is one of the crookedest
things" and that he "said he found a backdated building permit."
Plaintiffs also allege that Chief Stadnitski and Patrolman
Davitt entered the Plaintiffs' property, despite `no trespassing'
signs, and searched the property by riding around the lot and
sometimes circling cars in the lot. The Chief and Patrolman
Davitt also stopped Plaintiffs' employees as they left the
premises and conducted license and registration checks, and
sometimes issued citations for minor infractions, most of which
Plaintiffs allege the foregoing conduct provides the grounds
for six claims, viz, Count I Violation of Plaintiffs' First
Amendment Speech and Political Association Rights; Count II
Violation of Plaintiffs' Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Rights;
Count III Violation of Pennsylvania Constitution; Count IV
Defamation Under Pennsylvania Law; Count V-Violation of
Plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment Rights; and, Count VI Vicarious
Liability, Failure to Train, Supervise and Discipline. This matter is now ripe for disposition.
a. Motion to Dismiss: Rule 12(b)(6)
Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides
for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, for
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Dismissal is appropriate only if, accepting all factual
allegations in the complaint as true and "drawing all reasonable
inferences in the plaintiff's favor, no relief could be granted
under any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the
complaint." Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, Inc. v. Mirage
Resorts Inc., 140 F.3d 478, 483 (3d Cir. 1998).
In deciding a motion to dismiss, a court should consider the
allegations in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint
and matters of public record. See Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v.
White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993).
The court may also consider "undisputedly authentic" documents
where the plaintiff's claims are based on the documents and the
defendant has attached a copy of the document to the motion to
dismiss. Id. The court need not assume that the plaintiff can
prove facts that were not alleged in the complaint, see City of
Pittsburgh v. West Penn Power Co., 147 F.3d 256, 263 (3d Cir.
1998), nor credit a complaint's "bald assertions" or "legal
conclusions." Morse v. Lower Marion School District,
132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997).
When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court's role is
limited to determining whether the plaintiff is entitled to offer
evidence in support of the claims. See Scheuer v. Rhodes,
416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). The court does not consider whether the
plaintiff will ultimately prevail. See id. In order to survive a motion to
dismiss, the plaintiff must set forth information from which each
element of a claim may be inferred. See Kost v. Kozakiewicz,
1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993). The defendant bears the burden of
establishing that the ...