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Berger v. Bucks County Commissioners Office

June 21, 2010

GLENN WILLIAM BERGER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BUCKS COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OFFICE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Before the Court is Defendants Doylestown Township Police Department and Officer William Mokriski's Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 57), and responses thereto (Doc. Nos. 61, 62). For the reasons set forth in this Memorandum, the Court grants Defendants' Motion.

I. BACKGROUND*fn1

On March 18, 2008, Alana Annuziata was having a dispute with her cousin. The police were called and Annuziata fled to Plaintiff's home. Police proceeded to Plaintiff's home, at which time Plaintiff was taken into custody for violating a Protection from Abuse Order ("PFA") which prohibited Plaintiff from contact with Annuziata. Annuziata was not arrested. Plaintiff pled guilty to all charges arising from his March 18, 2008 arrest.

On June 28, 2008, Annuziata again arrived at Plaintiff's residence unannounced. Police were again dispatched to Plaintiff's home where he was again arrested. Annuziata was not arrested. Plaintiff ultimately pled guilty to two charges which arose from his arrest on June 28, 2008.

Plaintiff filed a pro se Complaint on June 8, 2009. Plaintiff alleges that the Doylestown Police Department failed to adequately train officers about PFAs, that the police officers gave preferential treatment to Annuziata, that he was falsely arrested on March 18, 2008, and that the Doylestown Police Department wrongfully failed to discipline Officer Mokriski, the arresting officer on March 18, 2008. Because Plaintiff is pro se, we will read his Complaint broadly. The Court will read Plaintiff's Amended Complaint as alleging Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment claims under 28 U.S.C. Section 1983 for false arrest, false imprisonment, failure to arrest another, failure to train, and state created danger.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint should be dismissed if the plaintiff has failed to state a claim on which relief can be granted. In evaluating a motion to dismiss, the court must take all well-pleaded factual allegations as true, but it is not required to blindly accept "a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 283 (1986); Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008). Although a plaintiff is not required to plead detailed factual allegations, the complaint must include enough facts to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Merely pleading facts consistent with liability is not sufficient; the plaintiff must plead facts which permit the court to make a reasonable inference that defendant is liable. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

III. Discussion

To make out a claim under Section 1983, Plaintiff must show that a person acting under color of state law deprived him of a federal right. Groman v. Township of Manalapan, 47 F.3d 628, 633 (3d Cir. 1995). An officer who is carrying out his official duties is acting under the color of state law for purposes of Section 1983. Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167 (1961). Additionally, the Supreme Court has held that "municipalities and other local governmental bodies are 'persons' within the meaning of § 1983." Board of County Commissioners of Bryan County v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397 (1997). Accordingly, we must address whether the conduct of Officer Mokriski and/or the Doylestown Police Department deprived Plaintiff of a federal right.

A. Claims Against the Doylestown Police Department

The Court must dismiss all claims against the Doylestown Police Department. Police departments cannot be sued under Section 1983 because they are merely an administrative arm of the a local municipality and not a separate entity for purposes of suit. DeBellis Kulp, 166 F. Supp. 2d 255, 264 (E.D. Pa. 2001); Open Inns, Ltd. v. Chester County Sheriff's Dept., 24 F. Supp. 2d 410, 417 n.13 (E.D. Pa. 1998); Irvin v. Borough of Darby, 937 F. Supp. 446, 450 (E.D. Pa. 1996); see also, Padilla v. Township of Cherry Hill, 110 F. App'x 272, 278 (3d Cir. 2004). Therefore, all claims against the Doylestown Police Department are dismissed.

B. Claims Against Officer Mokriski

Plaintiff has alleged four claims against Officer Mokriski. He has alleged Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment claims under 28 U.S.C. Section 1983 for false arrest, false imprisonment, ...


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