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Dutton-Myrie v. Corbett

April 14, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo


I. Introduction

Plaintiff, Luis A. Dutton-Myrie, is a pre-trial detainee presently housed at the Columbia County Prison, in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.*fn1 He files this pro se and in forma pauperis civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C § 1983 against Pennsylvania Attorney General THO (sic) Corbett, the Emporium Borough Police Department, Chief Rufus Jones, and Officer Kenneth Kiehlmeier. Mr. Dutton-Myrie also names as a defendant, Lucas Hostetlar, a former prison acquaintance, who served as a confidential informant (CI) for the named law enforcement defendants.

At this time, the Court must review the Complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), to determine whether it should be dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or because it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. For the reasons set forth below, the Court shall grant Mr. Dutton-Myrie's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and dismiss the action as barred by the Younger doctrine and the applicable statute of limitations.

II. Standard of Review

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), this Court must dismiss a case filed in forma pauperis if we determine that it "fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted." In applying this statutory requirement here, the court relies on the standard employed to analyze motions to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). That Rule authorizes dismissal of a complaint on basically the same ground, "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Under Rule 12(b)(6), we 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." Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008)). While detailed factual allegations are not required, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964, 167 L.Ed.2d. 929 (2007), a complaint has to plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955 at 1974. "The plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, U.S. , , 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009)(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 127 S.Ct. at 1965.) "[L]abels and conclusions" are not enough, Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. at 1964-65, and a court "'is not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.'" Id., 127 S.Ct. at 1965 (quoted case omitted).

III. Background

The following factual allegations are taken from the Complaint, and the documents attached to it, and are accepted for the purposes of this screening only. The Court has made no findings as to the veracity of Mr. Dutton-Myrie's allegations.

Sometime in mid-2006, Mr. Dutton-Myrie lent a former prison acquaintance, Lucas Hostetlar, $4,000. (Doc. 1, Compl. at ¶ 14.) In September 2007, Hostetlar became a CI for the Bureau of Narcotics Investigation (BNI). Id. at ¶ 15. Hostetlar advised the Attorney General Corbett and Emporium Police Chief Jones that he had been obtaining cocaine from Mr. Dutton-Myrie since May 2006. Id. at ¶ 16.

On October 13, 2007, CI Hostetlar contacted Plaintiff to repay the $4,000 loan. Id. at ¶ 17. The two met in a Sheetz parking lot in Dubois, Pennsylvania. Id. at ¶ 18. Unbeknownst to Mr. Dutton-Myrie, CI Hostetlar was wearing a body wire that day and recorded their conversation. Id. at ¶ 19. The law enforcement defendants had planned the October 2007 meeting to be a "buy and bust" involving $4,000 of marked money. Id. at ¶ 20. However, while money was exchanged, no drugs were obtained during the encounter. Id. at ¶¶ 19 - 20.

On November 7, 2007, Mr. Dutton-Myrie, a native of Panama and a commercial tractor trailer driver, parked his rig at the Pilot truck stop in Dubois, Pennsylvania. Id. at ¶ 23. Defendant law enforcement agents surrounded Plaintiff's truck and shouted for him to open his cab door. Id. While attempting to open his door, police officers shattered the driver's side window and pulled Mr. Dutton-Myrie out of the cab through the window. Id. Plaintiff plummeted to the ground smashing his eyeglasses, causing glass fragments to enter his eyes. Id. Mr. Dutton-Myrie was then handcuffed, searched and placed in an awaiting patrol car. An unidentified officer then searched Mr. Dutton-Myrie's entire tractor trailer. Id.

Plaintiff was then taken to the Sandy Township Police Department. Id. at ¶ 24. At his preliminary hearing Officer Kiehlmeier testified that although Mr. DuttonMyrie was searched prior to being transported to the Sandy Township Police Department he observed Plaintiff, via closed circuit television, "pull something out of the front of [his pants] that was alleged to be a small package with eleven (11) other smaller packages therein of what appeared to be rock cocaine." Id. at ¶ 25 (internal punctuation omitted).

At the time of his arrest, Mr. Dutton-Myrie's face was "seriously cut up when he was pulled from the window and slammed face down into the ground; his face was thus cut and bleeding and he felt tiny pieces of glass [in] ... his eyes." Id. at ¶ 26. Upon receiving Mr. Dutton-Myrie's medical complaints, an ambulance was called. The ambulance personnel advised Chief Jones and others that Mr. DuttonMyrie needed to go to the hospital for further proper treatment of his eyes. Id. at ¶ 27. Defendant Jones and others "denied said request" even though Plaintiff still complained of ocular discomfort. Id. at ¶ 28. Law enforcement defendants also refused to take pictures of his injuries. Id.

In the meantime, Defendant Jones contacted the St. Mary's Police Department and directed them to obtain permission from the mother of Plaintiff's son to search Mr. Dutton-Myrie's house for narcotics. Id. at ¶ 29. Unidentified police officials threatened the woman with the loss of the custody of her child if she did not sign the authorization to search Plaintiff's home even though she did not reside there and had no legal right to the premises. Id. at ¶ 30. A warrantless search of Mr. Dutton-Myrie home, tractor trailer and personal vehicle ensued yielding a number of ...

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