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Spencer v. Kreisher

January 15, 2009

FRANK SPENCER PLAINTIFF
v.
MAUREEN M. KREISHER; CMSU, MENTAL HEALTH PROGRAM, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge McClure

MEMORANDUM

BACKGROUND

On October 2, 2008, plaintiff, Frank Spencer (hereinafter "Spencer"), commenced this action with the filing of a complaint pursuant to 42*fn1 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count I), along with state law tort claims of false imprisonment (Count II) and gross negligence (Count III) against defendants, Maureen M. Kreisher (hereinafter "Kreisher") and CMSU, Mental Health Program (hereinafter "CMSU").

On December 4, 2008, defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss [the] Complaint Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b). (Rec. Doc. No. 8). This motion also included a motion for a more definite statement. (Id.) Supporting and opposing briefs have been filed. As the time to file a reply brief has since passed, the matter is ripe for disposition.

Now, for the following reasons, the court will dismiss plaintiff's § 1983 claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and will decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff's state law claims.

DISCUSSION

I. Motion to Dismiss Standard

When considering a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court must view all allegations stated in the complaint as true and construe all inferences in the light most favorable to plaintiff. Hishon v. King & Spaulding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984); Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993). In ruling on such a motion, the court primarily considers the allegations of the pleading, but is not required to consider legal conclusions alleged in the complaint. Kost, 1 F.3d at 183. At the motion to dismiss stage, the court considers whether plaintiff is entitled to offer evidence to support the allegations in the complaint. Maio v. Aetna, Inc., 221 F.3d 472, 482 (3d Cir. 2000). A complaint should only be dismissed if, accepting as true all of the allegations in the complaint, plaintiff has not pled enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1960 (2007).

In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, we must be mindful that federal courts require notice pleading, as opposed to the heightened standard of fact pleading. Hellmann v. Kercher, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54882, 4 (W.D. Pa. 2008). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 "'requires only a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the.claim is and the grounds on which it rests,'" Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964, (2007) (citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, (1957)). However, even under this lower notice pleading standard, a plaintiff must do more than recite the elements of a cause of action, and then make a blanket assertion of an entitlement to relief under it. Hellmann, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS at 4-5. Instead, a plaintiff must make a factual showing of his entitlement to relief by alleging sufficient facts that, when taken as true, suggest the required elements of a particular legal theory. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1965.

The failure-to-state-a-claim standard of Rule 12(b)(6) "streamlines litigation by dispensing with needless discovery and factfinding." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 326-27 (1989). A court may dismiss a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) where there is a "dispositive issue of law." Id. at 326. If it is beyond a doubt that the non-moving party can prove no set of facts in support of its allegations, then a claim must be dismissed "without regard to whether it is based on an outlandish legal theory or on a close but ultimately unavailing one." Id. at 327

II. Allegations in the Complaint

Taking as true all of the allegations in the complaint, the facts are as follows:

On October 4, 2006, Spencer's wife, Maria Sanutti Spencer (hereinafter "Mrs. Spencer"), filed an application for involuntary emergency examination and treatment pursuant to Pennsylvania's Mental Health Procedures Act ( hereinafter "MHPA"), 50 P.S. § 7101 et seq. The application was filed with defendant Kreisher, who is employed by defendant CMSU as the County Administrator. Those who may be subject to involuntary emergency examination and treatment include those who pose a clear and present danger of harm to others or to himself. See 50 P.S. § 7301(a). Mrs. Spencer's application for involuntary emergency examination and treatment is attached to the complaint as Exhibit A. Mrs. Spencer's application asserted that Spencer is manic, had caused harm to her, and had cut himself.

Kreisher, acting on only the information from Mrs. Spencer, signed the application for involuntary emergency examination and treatment and issued a warrant for Spencer to be taken for examination and treatment. On October 4, 2006, a police officer advised Spencer of the warrant. Spencer demonstrated to the officer that there were no cuts, bruises, or mutilations on his body. The officer directed Spencer ...


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