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Patterson v. City of Philadelphia

April 13, 2009

WILLIAM PATTERSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, ET AL. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jones, J.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter arises out of the arrest of William J. Patterson ("Plaintiff") for allegedly having indecent contact with two minors, and Plaintiff's subsequent acquittal of related charges in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Plaintiff, acting pro se, has brought suit against a variety of actors for a wide variety of claims stemming from this incident. Now pending before the Court are four motions to dismiss: (1) Defendants Kerry and Kirchner's Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) (Docket No. 18) ("First Motion to Dismiss"); Defendants City of Philadelphia, Stephen Ratka, Harry Young, Daniel O'Malley, John Darby, Joseph Mooney, Jeanette Dooley, Glenn Wilson, Ingo Schamber and Leni Dow's Motion to Dismiss Causes of Action Twelve Through Fifteen of the Complaint Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) (Docket No. 16) ("Second Motion to Dismiss"); Supplemental Motion to Dismiss of Defendants John Darby, Joseph Mooney, Jeannette Dooley, Ingo Schamber and Leni Dow Solely in Their Capacity as Members of the Philadelphia Children's Alliance Board of Directors (Docket No. 20) ("Third Motion to Dismiss"); and Defendants Lynne Abraham, John Delaney, Charles Ehrlich, James Carpenter and Eric Gibson's Motion to Dismiss (Docket No. 24) ("Fourth Motion to Dismiss"). These motions will be decided as discussed below.

I. Facts and Procedural Posture

None of the moving defendants has attempted to offer a comprehensive statement of the facts as alleged in Plaintiff's rambling, oft-confusing 295-paragraph Complaint, and, indeed, to attempt to do so would be a Herculean task as Plaintiff has blended factual assertions (which are sometimes unintelligible) with legal arguments and conclusions throughout the Complaint. While the Court has considered the Complaint in its entirety and may refer to specific paragraphs in its discussion, for the purposes of this section the Court will merely attempt to provide a short, salient summary of Plaintiff's factual allegations.

The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, Special Victims Unit of the Philadelphia Police, Philadelphia Department of Human Services ("DHS") and the Philadelphia Children's Alliance*fn1 ("PCA") have formed a Multi-Disciplinary Team ("MDT") to act as a clearinghouse for resources and information and to steer reported cases of child abuse for investigation.*fn2

Complaint ¶ 6. Inter alia, Plaintiff alleges that the MDT, via the PCA, engages in the practice of "Friendosexuality" (sex with therapists and/or patients); is a "cult;" "recruits for power, politics and sex;" has supported "terrorism;" has professed "Anti-Semetic beliefs;" and is not providing a safe environment for children. Id. at ¶ 14-15. Moreover, Plaintiff alleges that the MDT "through its administration, policy and training has used [its] monopoly for political, business and personal gains." Id. at ¶ 75. Plaintiff alleges that the MDT also "has not established or followed accepted protocols and procedures." Id. at ¶ 79. Finally, Plaintiff alleges that "[t]he goal of the [MDT] is to create probable cause in order to obtain an arrest, indictment and conviction." Id. at ¶ 80.

Plaintiff alleges that the PCA is the "lead agency in sexual abuse cases," and that its forensic investigators handle investigative child interviews for the police. Id. at ¶ 97. Once a child is referred into the MDT system via the PCA, Plaintiff alleges that an "MDT member can create and manipulate evidence and circumstances to fit their needs." Id. at ¶ 101. Plaintiff alleges that the police use the PCA to "hide" evidence when the proper procedure is for the police to "hold" evidence. Id. at ¶ 102. Plaintiff further alleges that PCA employees are cult leaders who exploit the PCA to get their cult tactics adopted "for their own personal, professional, political and public relations gains." Id. at ¶ 162.

The mother of the two children at issue in the underlying criminal case against Plaintiff first contacted DHS on January 6, 2006. Id. at ¶ 43. No background check was conducted on the mother. Id. at ¶ 91. According to Plaintiff, DHS "manipulated and/or manufactured a psychologist report based on the mother's statements." Id. at ¶ 92. On January 11, 2006, Officer Radka and Detective Young interviewed the children's parents. Id. at ¶ 47-49. At the same time, Ms. Kerry Knight of the PCA interviewed the older child. Id. at ¶ 77; 97. During the interview, the child drew a picture that was later kept in PCA files instead of given to the police. Id. at ¶ 97. In addition, the child brought another picture he had drawn at home, and Knight again placed it into the child's PCA file instead of giving to the police. Id. at ¶ 141. In her notes, Knight described the father of the child as a police officer, but noted no one else's occupation. Id. at ¶ 108. Plaintiff alleges that this was a signal to others to "do what they have to do in order to manufacture and/or manipulate the interview so that probable cause could be created" against him. Id. at ¶ 123. DHS and the police then referred the children to therapy through the PCA. Id. at ¶ 49-51. Plaintiff alleges that, in so doing, DHS, in conjunction with the District Attorney's Office, "defrauded the Federal Government" by padding statistics used to apply for grant money. Id. at ¶ 94; 106.

Subsequently, Plaintiff alleges that Officer Radka created an affidavit in application for a search warrant that attributed to the older child statements actually made by the mother in different contexts. Id. at ¶ 67. Furthermore, Plaintiff alleges that Detective Young wrote part of the affidavit of probable cause for the arrest warrant, and therein falsely listed himself as an observer of the interview with of the older child. Id. at ¶ 69. Both Radka and Young based their affidavits on the notes of Kerry Knight, the child's PCA interviewer. Id. at ¶ 97. Accordingly, the MDT, including the PCA, District Attorney's Office, and Police Department, "manipulated, manufactured and concealed evidence in order to gain arrest and conviction of an alleged perpetrator..." Id. at ¶ 75; see also id. at 127, 130.

The search warrant was served at Plaintiff's residence on February 3, 2006. Id. at ¶ 82. Plaintiff alleges that he felt intimated and was not told why his home was being searched. Id. A camera was seized during the search. Id. at ¶ 114. Plaintiff alleges that the MDT mishandled evidence gathered in the search of Plaintiff's residence in an effort to create probable cause. Id. at ¶ 135-40. The MDT seized Plaintiff's desktop computer, laptop computer, home movies, and CDs and had them analyzed; however no report on their contents was ever furnished to Plaintiff. Id. at ¶ 135-38.

The police asked Plaintiff to come to their offices on February 6, 2006, for an interview, but would still not tell Plaintiff why he was being investigated. Id. at ¶ 83. The police asked Plaintiff to submit to an interview by the MDT, to take a polygraph test, and submit to a second interview after the test, but still would not tell Plaintiff why he was being investigated. Id. at ¶ 85. On November 6, 2006, Plaintiff was informed of the specific charges against him and received an "offer" from the District Attorney's Office of 2 to 4 years in prison, 15 years of sex offender probation and no contact with children under eighteen years of age. Id. at ¶ 86.

Plaintiff received discovery from the District Attorney's Office in December of 2006. Id. The two pictures drawn by the older child were provided to Plaintiff two days before his scheduled trial date. Id. at ¶ 141. Plaintiff was acquitted by the Hon. Joseph Dych in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. See Commonwealth v. William Patterson, CP-51-CR-1300306-2006. After Plaintiff's trial ended, he sought the return of his property. Plaintiff's attorney was told that "Plaintiff had better not come" to the police department. Id. at ¶ 147. Plaintiff alleges that "[b]ased on a history of Philadelphia Police brutality, the Plaintiff took the threat against himself and his wife seriously." Id. Plaintiff and his wife sat in the car "with their hands on their cell phone dialed to 911" while their two sons went into the police department to retrieve Plaintiff's property. Id. at ¶ 148. Now, "[t]he Plaintiff and his family live in constant fear of the police state that the Philadelphia Police Department and the District Attorney's Office have established." Id. at ¶ 152.

II. Legal Standard

In deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), courts must "accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008) (internal quotation and citation omitted). After the Supreme Court's decision in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), "it is no longer sufficient to allege mere elements of a cause of action; instead a complaint must allege facts suggestive of the proscribed conduct." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 233 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563 n.8) (internal quotation and alteration omitted). To withstand a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), "factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Phillips at 234 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555) (alternation omitted). Thus, stating a claim "requires a complaint with enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest the required element." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556) (internal quotation omitted). Pro se litigants must "abide by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and when confronted by motions to dismiss must articulate reasons why the motions should not be granted." Nanya-Nashut ex rel. Hand v. BankOne, 2003 WL 22120263, at *2 (E.D. Pa. September 9, 2003).

III. Discussion

The Court will address the Motions to Dismiss seriatim.

A. First Motion to Dismiss

As a threshold matter, by his response Plaintiff has not opposed dismissal of the following claims:

a. All claims against Defendant Kirchner;*fn3

b. Count 11 (obstruction of justice) against Defendant Knight; and

c. Count 15 (negligent infliction of emotional distress) against Defendant Knight.

In addition, Plaintiff has not responded to Defendants' arguments concerning Counts 7-8 (42 U.S.C. § 1985) and 9 (42 U.S.C. § 1986). Nevertheless, the Court has considered these claims, To state a claim under § 1985, a plaintiff must allege four things: (1) a conspiracy; (2) motivated by a racial or class-based discriminatory animus designed to deprive, directly or indirectly, any person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws; (3) an act in furtherance of the conspiracy; and (4) an injury to person or property or the deprivation of any right or privilege of a citizen of the United States. Magnum v. Archdiocese of Philadelphia, 253 Fed. Appx. 224, 230 (3d Cir. ...


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