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Harris v. Paige

September 22, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert F. Kelly, Sr. J.


Presently before the Court is Defendant Michael Paige's ("Paige") "Motion Pursuant to F.R.C.P. 8, 12(b)(6) and (f) to Dismiss" ("Motion").*fn1 For the reasons set forth below, Paige's Motion will be denied in part and granted in part.*fn2


On May 7, 2008, Plaintiff James Harris ("Harris") filed a Complaint against Paige and the City of Philadelphia (the "City") alleging that Paige, who was employed as a Philadelphia police officer at the time of the alleged incident, sexually assaulted Harris by forcing him to engage in oral sex and other sexual acts under the show of authority, while on duty as a Philadelphia police officer, and under the color of state law. (Compl. ¶ 2.)

On July 7, 2008, Harris filed a Praecipe to Enter Default/Default Judgment against Paige. On that same date, the Clerk of the Court entered a Default against Paige for his failure to appear, plead, or otherwise defend in the instant action. Also on that date, Paige filed a Motion to Stay Proceedings, alleging that he is a member of the United States Army Reserve, and had been ordered to report to active duty in Fort Knox, Kentucky. On July 29, 2008, Paige filed a Motion to Set Aside Entry of Default. On August 18, 2008, this Court granted Paige's Motion to Stay Proceedings based on the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act, 50 U.S.C. app. § 522 (2009). On that same date, this Court granted Paige's Motion to Set Aside Entry of Default.

On June 10, 2009, Harris filed a Motion to Reinstate Civil Action and Lift Stay which was granted by this Court on July 17, 2009. On August 12, 2009, Paige filed the instant Motion, and Harris filed a "Praecipe to Enter Default Judgment Against Defendant Michael Paige." Thereafter, on September 7, 2009, Paige filed a "Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Praecipe to Enter Default Against Defendant Paige."


1. Motion to Dismiss

A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint. Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993). Under Rule 12(b)(6), the defendant bears the burden of demonstrating that the plaintiff has not stated a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6); see also Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005). In Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, the Supreme Court stated that "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Following Twombly, the Third Circuit has explained that the factual allegations in the complaint may not be "so undeveloped that it does not provide a defendant the type of notice which is contemplated by Rule 8." Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008). Moreover, "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.'" Id. (alteration in original) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563 n.8). Furthermore, the complaint's "factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. at 234 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "This 'does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage,' but instead 'simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

Notwithstanding Twombly, the basic tenets of the Rule 12(b)(6) have not changed. The Knit With v. Knitting Fever, Inc., No. 08-4221, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30230, at *6 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 8, 2009). The general rules of pleading still require only a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, not detailed factual allegations. Phillips, 515 F.3d at 231. Moreover, when evaluating a motion to dismiss, the court must accept as true all well-pleaded allegations of fact in the plaintiff's complaint, and must view any reasonable inferences that may be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Id.; Buck v. Hampton Twp. Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir. 2006). Finally, the court must "determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Pinkerton v. Roche Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002).

2. Motion to Strike

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) states in relevant part: "The court may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(f). "Immaterial matter is that which has no essential or important relationship to the claim for relief." Del. Health Care. Inc. v. MCD Holding Co., 893 F. Supp. 1279, 1291-92 (D. Del. 1995). "Impertinent matter consists of statements that do not pertain, and are not necessary, to the issues in question." Id.

District courts are afforded "considerable discretion" when addressing a motion to strike. See Woods v. ERA Med LLC, No. 08-2495, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3965, at *32 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 21, 2009). Generally, motions to strike are not favored and "usually will be denied unless the allegations have no possible relation to the controversy and may cause prejudice to one of the parties, or if the allegations confuse the issues." River Rd. Dev. Corp. v. Carlson Corp. - Ne., No. 89-7037, 1990 U.S. ...

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