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Kasteleba v. Judge

April 24, 2006

JOSEPH R. KASTELEBA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN JUDGE, MICHAEL L. GREEN, ALLEN CASTOR, JEFFREY R. IMBODEN, GARY R. LUCHT, GERARD N. MASSARO, SEAN R. RYAN, MICHAEL M. WEBSTER, LLOYD A. WHITE, JOHN R. TUTTLE, MARGARET E. THOMPSON, COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AND COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA BOARD OF PROBATION AND PAROLE DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Kosik

MEMORANDUM

Before the court is the defendants' motion to dismiss the plaintiff's amended complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) or for an order directing the plaintiff to file a more definite statement pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e). (Doc. 9). For the reasons that follow we will grant in part, and deny in part, the defendants' motion.

I. BACKGROUND

As this matter was previously discussed in our October 13, 2005, Order, we will only provide a concise recitation of the relevant facts. After a conviction and sentence in the State of Florida in 1979, the plaintiff successfully had his parole supervision transferred to Pennsylvania. Plaintiff's parole terminated some twenty years ago. At that time, the plaintiff's supervising parole officer, defendant, John Judge, allegedly threatened the plaintiff that he would "get him."

On or about April 14, 2004, the plaintiff was stopped for a traffic violation in Florida. A criminal record check undertaken by Florida allegedly disclosed that plaintiff was a fugitive from justice in Pennsylvania for whom there existed an outstanding arrest warrant. In fact, plaintiff was not a fugitive or there was no arrest warrant for plaintiff. Plaintiff alleges that he was incarcerated in Florida for a period of three (3) months before a Florida court determined that the plaintiff was not wanted in Pennsylvania.

On August 3, 2005, plaintiff filed a complaint in Luzerne County against the defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of plaintiff's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Defendants removed the suit to this court and promptly filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). All parties briefed the motion. Essentially, the defendants contended that plaintiff could not pursue claims against the Commonwealth, the Board of Probation and Parole, or the individual defendants in their official capacities, as they were not considered "persons" under Section 1983. Defendants additionally argued that plaintiff's claims against the defendants in their individual capacities should be dismissed because plaintiff failed to attribute any personal involvement in his arrest and detention to the defendants. We entered an order on October 13, 2005, in which we granted the defendants' motion, but provided plaintiff the opportunity to file an amended complaint.

Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on November 1, 2005. (Doc. 8). Defendants filed another motion to dismiss on November 21, 2005. (Doc. 9).

Defendants' motion reasserts the challenges to the initial complaint; that the defendants are not "persons" for the purposes of Section 1983, and that plaintiff fails to allege personal involvement on the part of the defendants.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Motion To Dismiss - Rule 12(b)(6)

Pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a plaintiff's complaint need only contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). The Rules further counsel this court to construe all pleadings, "as to do substantial justice." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(f). When ruling on a motion to dismiss, a district court must treat all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Consolidated Rail Corp. v. Portlight, Inc., 188 F.3d 93, 94 (3d. Cir. 1999) (citations omitted). Granting a motion to dismiss is appropriate only when "it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). The court must decide not whether the plaintiff will prevail on his or her claims, but rather, whether the claimant is entitled to offer proof to support his or her claims. Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1996). It is the defendant's burden to demonstrate that the plaintiff has not stated a viable claim. Gould Electric Inc. v. U.S., 220 F.3d 169, 178 (3d Cir. 2000).

The liberal pleading requirements set forth in the Federal Rules apply to Section 1983 plaintiffs. The Supreme Court has expressly dismissed the notion that Section 1983 claims are subject to a heightened pleading requirement. Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Intelligence & Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 169 (U.S. 1993). In the absence of an increased pleading standard encompassing a specificity requirement for Section 1983 cases, "federal courts and litigants must rely on summary judgment and control of discovery to weed out unmeritorious claims sooner rather than later." Id.

1. Claims Against Defendants In Official Capacities Dismissed

The defendants argue that we must dismiss plaintiff's claims against the defendants in their official capacities as they are not considered "persons" under ยง 1983. Plaintiff agrees with the defendants' assertion and concludes that the claims against the defendants in their official capacities should be dismissed. Accordingly, we will dismiss all ...


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