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Spell v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Mag. Dist. #05-2-11

May 19, 2009

MARVASE SPELL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA MAG. DIST. #05-2-11 AND HON. ROBERT L. BARNER, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ambrose, Chief District Judge

OPINION AND ORDER OF THE COURT

Synopsis

Plaintiff Marvase Spell, brings this pro se, in forma pauperis action against Defendant Pennsylvania Magisterial District #05-2-11 (the "District") and the Honorable Robert L. Barner ("Barner") alleging civil rights violations. For the reasons set forth below, I grant Defendants' motion to dismiss.

I. Applicable Standards

In deciding a motion to dismiss under Fed R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), all factual allegations, and all reasonable inferences therefrom, must be accepted as true and viewed in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Haspel v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 2007 WL 2030272, at *1 (3d Cir. July 16, 2007). "The issue is not whether the plaintiff will prevail at the end but only whether he should be entitled to offer evidence to support his claim." Williams v. Sebek, 2007 WL 790386, at *1 (W.D. Pa. Mar. 14, 2007) (citing Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989)). A plaintiff's factual allegations "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008).

Moreover, "complaints filed by pro se litigants must be liberally construed." Tate v. Morris Cty. Prosecutors Office, 284 Fed.Appx. 877, 879 (3d Cir. 2008). The Third Circuit has further directed that "district courts in this circuit must grant leave to amend before dismissing a pro se civil rights complaint, even if the plaintiff does not request it, unless amendment would be futile or leave to amend is not warranted for some other reason." Id.

Because Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1915, also applies. "Under that statute, a court shall dismiss an action if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim, or seeks monetary damages against a defendant who is immune from such relief." Retzler v. Bristol Township, 2009 WL 632934, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 9, 2009); see also, Tate v. Morris Cty Prosecuters Office, 2007 WL 1140469, at *2 (D. N.J. Apr. 17, 2007), aff'd in relevant part, 284 Fed. Appx. 877 (3d Cir. 2008).

II. Factual Allegations

The following allegations are set forth in the single-page Complaint, dated January 26, 2009 [Docket No. 3].

On October 17, 2002, Plaintiff was arrested and/or given a citation for public intoxication. Plaintiff made his final payment on the citation on July 1, 2004.

On October 29, 2008, when Plaintiff arrived home at approximately 8:30 p.m., he noticed some type of paper taped to his front screen door. The paper informed Plaintiff that a warrant had been issued for his arrest and directed him to contact Constable Michael Savulak. Plaintiff contacted the Constable via telephone at 8:51 p.m, and was informed that the Constable had the arrest warrant in his possession. Plaintiff requested time to check his records. Plaintiff then called the Constable to explain that he had the receipt for his payment of the citation. The Constable informed Plaintiff that he needed to speak with the clerk of the court to resolve the matter.

Plaintiff contacted the clerk of the court the next day to "no avail." Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his civil rights by "subjecting [him] to discrimination, racial profiling, judicial prejudice, double jeopardy and multiple punishment and harassment."

III. Defendants' Motion To Dismiss

Defendants have moved to dismiss the Complaint on the grounds that they are entitled to absolute immunity from suit and because they are not "persons" subject to liability under section 1983. Because I agree that Defendants are immune from liability under the Eleventh Amendment and the ...


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