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Studli v. Crimone

July 6, 2006

SHERRY STUDLI, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHARLES A. CRIMONE, DIRECTOR, CHILDREN & YOUTH SERVICES, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ambrose, Chief District Judge.

OPINION and ORDER OF COURT

Plaintiff Sherry Studli ("Studli") is the mother of six children. She claims that the Defendants deprived her of various constitutional rights in connection with the removal of her children from her care. In an Opinion and Order dated May 9, 2006, I previously dismissed Studli's Complaints against all Defendants. Studli was given leave to assert certain new claims, provided that she cured the deficiencies noted in the Opinion. She has since filed an Amended Complaint.

Defendants Charles Crimone, Natalie Hunt, Tia Lopez, George Hazlitt, Debra Rugg, Andrea Paliguta, and Julia Barth were newly named in the Amended Complaint. They are each employed by the Children and Youth Services of Somerset County, Pennsylvania ("CYS") in some capacity (hereinafter referred to as the "CYS Employees"). Studli again named Defendants James Maker, Brad Cover and Pamela Tokar-Ickes, all of whom served as Commissioners of Somerset County ("the Commissioners") during the relevant time frame. The CYS Employees and the Commissioners have filed a Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint. See Docket No. 19.*fn1

After careful consideration, and for the reasons set forth below, the Motion is granted in part and denied in part.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

In deciding a Motion to Dismiss, all factual allegations, and all reasonable inferences therefrom, must be accepted as true and viewed in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Colburn v. Upper Darby Twp., 838 F.2d 663, 666 (3d Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 489 U.S. 1065 (1988). I may dismiss a complaint only if it appears beyond a reasonable doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claims which would entitle him to relief. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45 (1957). In ruling on a motion for failure to state a claim, I must look to "whether sufficient facts are pleaded to determine that the complaint is not frivolous, and to provide the defendants with adequate notice to frame an answer." Colburn, 838 F.2d at 666.

While a court will accept well-pleaded allegations as true for the purposes of the motion, it will not accept legal or unsupported conclusions, unwarranted inferences, or sweeping legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations. See Miree v. DeKalb County, Ga., 433 U.S. 25, 27 n.2 (1977). Moreover, the plaintiff must set forth sufficient information to outline the elements of his claims or to permit inferences to be drawn that these elements exist. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(2)(a) and Conley, 355 U.S. at 45-46. Matters outside the pleadings should not be considered. This includes "any written or oral evidence in support of or opposition to the pleadings that provides some substantiation for and does not merely reiterate what is said in the pleadings." Charles A. Wright and Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure, § 1366 (West 1990).

ANALYSIS

1. SERVICE OF PROCESS UPON THE CYS EMPLOYEES

The CYS Employees seek dismissal of the Amended Complaint on the basis of insufficiency of service of process under Rule 12(b)(5) of the Rules of Civil Procedure. In federal court, service of process upon individuals is governed by Rule 4(e). Rule 4(e) provides:

Unless otherwise provided by federal law, service upon an individual from whom a waiver has not been obtained and filed, other than an infant or an incompetent person, may be effected in any judicial district of the United States:

(1) pursuant to the local law of the state in which the district court is located, or in which service is effected, for the service of a summons upon the defendant in an action brought in the courts of general jurisdiction of the State; or

(2) by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the individual personally or by leaving copies thereof at the individual's dwelling house or usual place of abode with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein or by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint ...


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