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Aquino v. County of Monroe

May 24, 2007

ELIZABETH I. AQUINO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COUNTY OF MONROE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Vanaskie

MEMORANDUM

I. Introduction

Plaintiff, Elizabeth Aquino, commenced this action, through counsel, by filing a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants are Monroe County, Pennsylvania, together with the following individual Defendants: Donna Asure, Chair of the Monroe County Commissioners; Robert Nothstein, Vice-Chair of the Monroe County Commissioners; Suzanne McCool, Monroe County Commissioner; Robert Gress, Chief Clerk/Administrator of the Monroe County Commissioners; David Keenhold, Warden of the Monroe County Correctional Facility ("MCCF"); and Yvonne Santiago, a Corrections Officer at MCCF. The individual Defendants are sued in their individual and official capacities.

Plaintiff alleges that she was sexually assaulted while incarcerated at MCCF. She has asserted claims for violation of rights secured by the United States Constitution as well as the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Presently pending is Defendants' Amended Motion to Dismiss the official capacity claims and Plaintiff's state law claims. (Dkt. Entry 11.) The motion has been briefed and is ripe for decision. For the following reasons, the motion will be granted as to the official capacity claims, but denied as to the claims premised upon alleged violations of two provisions of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

II. Background

Plaintiff was incarcerated at MCCF on three occasions:

1. November 25, 2003, to December 2, 2003;

2. March 2, 2004, to March 23, 2004; and

3. March 29, 2004, to April 2, 2004.

Plaintiff alleges that while she was incarcerated at MCCF, Defendant Santiago repeatedly gave her mind-altering drugs and sexually assaulted her, forcing her to submit to offensive sexual contact. In the two-count complaint, Aquino claims that the incidents violated her First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution (Count I), as well as her rights under Article I, §§ 26 and 28 of the Pennsylvania Constitution (Count II).

III. Discussion

A. Motion to Dismiss Standard

In rendering a decision on a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept the Plaintiff's allegations as true. White v. Napoleon, 897 F.2d 103, 106 (3d Cir. 1990). In Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1996), the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit added that when considering a motion to dismiss, a court should "not inquire whether the plaintiffs will ultimately prevail, only whether they are entitled to offer evidence to support their claims." Moreover, a motion to dismiss may only be granted if there is no reasonable reading of the facts that would entitle Plaintiff to relief. Lum v. Bank of America, 361 F.3d 217, 223 (3d Cir. 2004). The Court should consider the allegations in the complaint, the exhibits attached thereto, matters of public record, and ...


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