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Rhodes v. Holt

May 3, 2007

DAVID M. RHODES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WARDEN RONNIE R. HOLT, EDWARD A. RYAN, AND WILLIAM MCFADDEN, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Jones

MEMORANDUM

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS MEMORANDUM IS AS FOLLOWS

Pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, in the alternative, for Summary Judgment (doc. 5) filed on January 3, 2007.

For the following reasons, the Motion (doc. 5) will be granted.

STANDARD OF REVIEW:

In considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 12(b)(6), a court must accept the veracity of a plaintiff's allegations. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974); see also White v. Napoleon, 897 F.2d 103, 106 (3d Cir. 1990). In Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1996), our Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit added that in considering a motion to dismiss based on a failure to state a claim argument, a court should "not inquire whether the plaintiffs will ultimately prevail, only whether they are entitled to offer evidence to support their claims." Furthermore, "a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless 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); see also District Council 47 v. Bradley, 795 F.2d2 310 (3d Cir. 1986).

FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff David M. Rhodes ("Plaintiff" or "Rhodes") commenced the instant action against Defendants Ronnie R. Holt, Warden of the Federal Correctional Institution-Schuylkill, Edward A. Ryan, special agent for the United States Department of Homeland Security, and William McFadden, a former Unit Manager at FCI-Schuylkill by filing a complaint (doc. 1) on October 27, 2006.

Plaintiff was employed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") as a correctional officer at FCI-Schyulkill from 1993 until his termination on August 27, 2004. (Complaint, ¶7). Defendant McFadden was employed at FCI-Schyulkill when Rhodes began his employment in 1993 and by 2004 he was Unit Manager at the facility, where he worked closely with Rhodes. (Complaint, ¶8). Defendant Holt became the warden at FCI-Schuylkill in August 2004. (Complaint, ¶9). Prior to becoming a special agent with the United States Department of Homeland Security, Defendant Ryan was employed as a correctional officer at the institution, where he worked with Rhodes and McFadden. (Complaint, ¶10).

Plaintiff alleges that after opposing certain inappropriate conduct at the prison, on August 27, 2004, he was removed by Holt from his position as a correctional officer based upon a charge of allegedly engaging in conduct unbecoming a correctional officer. (Complaint, ¶11).

On October 23, 2004, Ryan began a criminal investigation of Rhodes. (Complaint, ¶12). Plaintiff alleges that during the investigation, Ryan spoke with McFadden and Holt, and reviewed and discussed certain personnel materials related to Rhodes' termination. (Complaint, ¶13). Plaintiff further alleges that Ryan also spoke with employees of FCI-Schyulkill and that McFadden and Holt assisted Ryan with the collection of information and documentation arising from Rhodes' employment file and from an allegedly improper investigation leading up to his removal. (Complaint, ¶14). Plaintiff alleges that the information and documents that Ryan reviewed contained false and misleading statements concerning Rhodes' conduct, and that Ryan, McFadden and Holt knew or should have known that certain statements or representations in the documents were false and misleading. (Complaint, ¶¶15-16). These documents were used by Ryan to initiate criminal proceedings against Rhodes. (Complaint, ¶17).

In the course of the investigation, Ryan also interviewed Margaret Connors, Assistant Human Resource Manager for the BOP. (Complaint, ¶18). Connors received an allegedly threatening phone call from Rhodes on July 26, 2004. (Complaint, ¶19). On October 25, 2004, Ryan interviewed Connors regarding the phone call and Plaintiff alleges that Ryan knowingly and intentionally took, inter alia, statements made by Connors out of context in an effort to create probable cause for an arrest. (Complaint, ¶¶20-21). Ryan indicated in his interview notes that Connors told him that during the phone call "Rhodes stated to her that he was 'working overtime to buy an AK-47' and that he already has, 'an arsenal of weapons that he would use.'" (Complaint, ¶23).

Connors' affidavit was prepared on November 18, 2004, over a week after Rhodes' arrest. Connors' affidavit states that Rhodes told her that he felt he was being penalized for making statements at work about working overtime to buy an AK-47. Connors does not indicate within the affidavit that Rhodes told her he had an arsenal of weapons. (Complaint, ¶23).

On October 29, 2004, Rhodes was arrested and charged with making illegal threats based on a criminal complaint and affidavit of probable cause signed by Ryan. Plaintiff alleges that the affidavit of probable cause was based on knowingly false and misleading information. (Complaint, ¶24). Rhodes was immediately taken into custody. (Complaint, ¶25). After spending about two years in ...


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