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Dreyer v. Sheaffer

January 29, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo


Presently before the Court is Defendant Jerry Cesare's motion to dismiss Plaintiff Eric Dreyer's amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Doc. 7.) Plaintiff brings several claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. For the reasons stated below, the Court will denyDefendant's motion.

As this case is brought pursuant to § 1983, jurisdiction exists under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 ("federal question").


The facts alleged in Plaintiff's amended complaint relevant to Defendant Cesare's motion are as follows. On June 16, 2003, Plaintiff was arrested in Patterson, New Jersey for purchasing heroine. He pled guilty and was sentenced to three (3) years probation by a New Jersey state court. (Am. Compl. ¶ 11, Doc. 3.) Because Plaintiff resided in Pennsylvania at the time of his arrest, his probation was transferred to the supervision of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole in Lackawanna County. (Id. ¶ 12.) At the time, his probation supervisor was informed that, due to a medical condition, Plaintiff was prescribed medications containing opiates which were permitted under special conditions of his probation. (Id. ¶¶ 13-14.) On January 9, 2006, Plaintiff was arrested for a probation violation for which he received three (3) additional years probation but no incarceration. (Id. ¶¶ 16-17.)

Plaintiff alleges a sequence of harassing conduct towards him between January and June 2006 by several Pennsylvania probation officers, culminating in defendant probation officer Douglas Sheaffer's making a false determination that Plaintiff violated the conditions of his probation by possessing alcohol.*fn1 (Id. ¶¶ 19-26.) Based on this determination, Defendant Sheaffer placed Plaintiff in the "MINSEC Program,"*fn2 run on behalf of the Lackawanna County Probation Department. (Id. ¶ 26.)

While in the MINSEC program, Plaintiff advised defendant Jerry Cesare, a MINSEC counselor, of his medical condition and prescriptions containing opiates. Cesare advised him that the nurse who handled prescriptions was on vacation and to continue taking his medications, but not to bring to them to the MINSEC location until the nurse returned, for fear that other probationers would steal them. (Id. ¶ 28.)

On June 15, 2006, Sheaffer falsely alleged that Plaintiff had informed him and the MINSEC program that he was no longer prescribed medication containing opiates but nonetheless submitted a urine sample which tested positive for opiates. (Id. ¶ 32.) Based on this, Sheaffer falsely alleged that Plaintiff violated the conditions of his probation. (Id. ¶ 31.) He made the allegation knowing that the only opiates in Plaintiff's urine were taken lawfully according to his prescription. (Id. ¶ 35.) On June 22, 2006, Sheaffer falsely charged that Plaintiff had violated MINSEC rules by possessing drugs and/or alcohol. (Id. ¶ 36.) Plaintiff asserts that Scheaffer based his allegations on false information received from Cesare. (Id. ¶ 40.)

Sheaffer and another defendant probation officer used the above false allegations to have Plaintiff arrested for probation violations. (Id. ¶¶ 37-39.) As a result, Plaintiff was incarcerated for one hundred and thirteen (113) days. (Id. ¶ 41.) When he ultimately received a probation violation hearing, the Superior Court of New Jersey found that Plaintiff did not violate his probation as alleged and terminated his remaining probation. (Id. ¶ 44.)

Plaintiff filed a complaint against the defendant probation officers on June 12, 2008, alleging several claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for constitutional violations arising from his 2006 false arrest and incarceration. (Doc. 1.) He amended his complaint on July 7, 2008 to include Cesare as a defendant. (Doc. 6.) Defendant probation officers filed an answer to the amended complaint (Doc. 5), while Defendant Cesare filed the present motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (Doc. 7). The motion to dismiss has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.


Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

Dismissal is appropriate only if, accepting as true all the facts alleged in the complaint, Plaintiff has not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1960 (2007), meaning, enough factual allegations "to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of" each necessary element. Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008); see also Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993) (requiring complaint to set forth information from which each element of a claim may be inferred). In light of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), the statement need only "give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) (per curiam). "[T]he factual detail in a complaint [must not be] so undeveloped that it does not provide a defendant the type of notice of claim which is contemplated by Rule 8." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 232; see also Airborne Beepers & Video, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility LLC, 499 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir. 2007).

In deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court may consider the allegations in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint and matters of public record, including judicial proceedings. S. Cross Overseas Agencies, Inc. v. Wah Kwong Shipping Group, Ltd., 181 F.3d 410, 426 (3d Cir. 1999). The Court need not assume that the plaintiff can prove facts that were not alleged in the complaint, see City of Pittsburgh v. West Penn Power Co., 147 F.3d 256, 263 (3d Cir. 1998), nor credit ...

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