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Taylor v. Pilewski

September 8, 2008

RONALD D. TAYLOR AND TERRI TAYLOR, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
NOEL PILEWSKI, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Bissoon*fn1

MEMORANDUM ORDER

Allegheny County and Ramon C. Rustin‟s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 11) will be granted in part and denied in part, and Plaintiff will be permitted to amend his pleadings.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Ronald D. Taylor ("Plaintiff") brings this Section 1983 claim against the Township of Robinson and certain of its police officers ("the Robinson Defendants"), Allegheny County (at times, "the County"), and the warden of its Jail, Ramon C. Rustin ("Rustin" or "the Warden"). See generally Compl. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff‟s wife, Terri Taylor, has filed a loss of consortium claim based on her husband‟s underlying Section 1983 claims. See id. at ¶ 19.

The Robinson Defendants have answered the Complaint, see Doc. 17, and the County and Warden have moved to dismiss. See generally Defs.‟ Br. (Doc. 14).

Plaintiff‟s factual allegations are summarized in the "Introduction" to his Complaint:

This action . . . aris[es] from [Plaintiff]‟s arrest on May 11, 2006 and the injuries he sustained incident to that arrest. The police officers‟ use of force exceeded that which [was] reasonable and necessary, violating . . . universal standards of decency and depriving [Plaintiff] of his constitutional rights. . . . [Incident] to the arrest, . . . [Plaintiff] suffered severe . . . injury to his right leg . . . . Defendants exhibited a deliberate indifference to [his] serious medical needs[,] . . . depriving [Plaintiff] of his constitutional rights.

The acts of the individual [D]efendants were carried out in accordance with the customs, policies, practices, or procedures of the defendant Township of Robinson and/or Allegheny County.

Compl. at ¶ 1. Regarding the County and Warden specifically, Plaintiff alleges he was denied medical attention for over fourteen hours while detained in the County Jail. Id. at ¶ 14.

ANALYSIS

A. The Claims Against the Warden Will Be Dismissed Without Prejudice

It is unclear whether the Warden has been sued in his official or individual capacity. Compare Compl. at ¶ 9 (Rustin is "an adult individual" who acted "in his capacity as Warden") with Defs.‟ Br. at 3-6 (seeking dismissal of both individual and official capacity claims). To the extent he is named in his official capacity, the claims against Rustin are redundant of those against Allegheny County and will be dismissed. See Christy v. Pennsylvania Turnpike Comm‟n, 54 F.3d 1140, 1143 n.3 (3d Cir. 1995) (official capacity suits "generally represent only another way of pleading an action against an entity of which an officer is an agent") (citations and internal quotations omitted); see also Blanciak v. Allegheny Ludlum Corp., 77 F.3d 690, 697 (3d Cir. 1996) ("[government] officials acting in their official capacities are not "persons‟ under § 1983") (citation omitted, internal quotations in original).

As to individual capacity, Defense counsel is correct that Plaintiff must allege the Warden played an "affirmative part," by act or omission, in the purported misconduct. See Greer v. York County Prison, 2008 WL 3819866, *2 (M.D. Pa. Aug. 11, 2008); see also id. (plaintiff must allege "the supervising official personally participated in the activity," he "directed others to violate a person‟s rights," or "had knowledge of and acquiesced in a subordinate‟s violations") (citations to binding Third Circuit authority omitted). Plaintiff‟s current allegations are deficient, and his request to amend will be granted. Compare Compl. at ¶ 9 (alleging only that Warden acted under color of state law and pursuant to County‟s customs, practices or policies) and ...


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