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Kuniskas v. Walsh

January 19, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: A. Richard Caputo United States District Judge



Presently before this Court are three motions, one by each named Defendant, requesting that Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 1) be dismissed: a Motion to Dismiss by Demetrius Fannick (Doc. 10); a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings by George Skumanick (Doc. 12);*fn1 and a Motion to Dismiss by Joseph Walsh (Doc. 17.) Plaintiff's Complaint will be dismissed for the reasons discussed below. This Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's federal claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 ("federal question jurisdiction"), and over Plaintiff's state law claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367 ("supplemental jurisdiction").


The facts alleged in Plaintiff's Complaint are as follows: The Plaintiff in this action is Andrew Kuniskas ("Plaintiff"). (Compl. ¶ 1, Doc. 1.)

Defendant Joseph Walsh ("Walsh") was at all relevant times a Corporal with the Pennsylvania State Police. (Compl. ¶ 2.) Defendant George Skumanick ("Skumanick") was at all relevant times the District Attorney for Wyoming County, Pennsylvania. (Compl. ¶ 3.) Skumanick was the lead prosecutor in the relevant criminal case against Plaintiff. (Compl. ¶ 15.) Defendant Demetrius Fannick ("Fannick") was at all relevant times a criminal defense attorney representing Plaintiff in the relevant criminal proceedings. (Compl. ¶ 4.) The three unnamed "John Doe" defendants served either as officers of the Pennsylvania State Police or as employees of Wyoming County during the time period relevant to this case. (Compl. ¶¶ 5-7.)

On or around May 21, 2006, Plaintiff was operating his four wheel all-terrain vehicle on the roads of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. (Compl. ¶ 11.) Defendant Walsh, operating a Pennsylvania State Police patrol car, pursued Plaintiff for suspected traffic violations. (Compl. ¶ 11.) During that pursuit, Plaintiff was "run over" by Walsh. (Compl. ¶ 11.) Plaintiff sustained severe personal injuries as a result. (Compl. ¶ 12.) Plaintiff was charged with a "bevy of offenses" as a result of this incident. (Compl. ¶ 15.) Plaintiff pled guilty to some of the charges against him. (Compl. ¶ 21.) A video recorder installed in Walsh's vehicle recorded the entire pursuit. (Compl. ¶ 14.)

The video tape was turned over to prosecutors. (Compl. ¶ 14.) Plaintiff repeatedly requested Fannick to secure the video recording, but was told that no recordings existed. (Compl. ¶ 20.) The video tape was destroyed within days after Plaintiff was sentenced. (Compl. ¶ 22.) Plaintiff learned of the existence and destruction of the video tape in or around July 2008. (Compl. ¶ 22.) The Defendants conspired to conceal the existence of the video tape of the May 21, 2006, incident in order to defeat Plaintiff's civil and criminal cases.

(Compl. ¶ 23.) This was done in retaliation for Plaintiff's expressed intent to bring Walsh to justice. (Compl. ¶ 23.)

On January 20, 2009, Plaintiff filed the present action in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. (Doc. 1.) On July 1, 2009, Defendant Fannick filed a motion to dismiss. (Doc. 10.) On July 6, 2009, Defendant Skumanick filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. (Doc. 12.) On August 18, 2009, Defendant Walsh also filed a motion to dismiss. (Doc. 17.) After a period of delay caused by Plaintiff's failure to file briefs in opposition, all parties have fully briefed these motions and they are now ripe for disposition.


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). Dismissal is appropriate only if, accepting as true all the facts alleged in the complaint, a plaintiff has not pleaded "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (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) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556); see also Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993) (requiring a 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, 93 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

"[T]he factual detail in a complaint [must not be] so undeveloped that it does not provide a defendant [with] 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 should consider the allegations in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, and matters of public record. See Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). The Court may also consider "undisputedly authentic" documents when the plaintiff's claims are based on the documents and the defendant has attached copies of the documents to the motion to dismiss. Id. The Court need not assume the plaintiff can prove facts that were not alleged in the complaint, see City of Pittsburgh v. W. Penn Power Co., 147 F.3d 256, 263 & n.13 (3d Cir. 1998), or credit a complaint's "'bald assertions'" or "'legal conclusions,'" Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997) (quoting In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. ...

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