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Washington v. Grace

June 28, 2010

HENRY WASHINGTON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JAMES L. GRACE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. John E. Jones III

MEMORANDUM

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS MEMORANDUM IS AS FOLLOWS:

Pending before the Court is the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 46) filed on March 5, 2010. By Order dated March 25, 2010 (Doc. 54), we granted Plaintiff Henry Washington ("Plaintiff" or "Washington") a 45 day extension of time to file an opposition to the Defendants' Motion. The time for this filing has elapsed without a brief in opposition filed by Plaintiff.*fn1 Accordingly, this matter is ripe for our review.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff initiated this matter, pro se, on May 14, 2007 by filing a Complaint with Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction. (Doc. 1).By Order dated July 2, 2007, we issued an Order dismissing the Complaint and requiring the Plaintiff to file an Amended Complaint. (Doc. 7). After twice granting Plaintiff extension of time, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on August 30, 2007. (Doc. 12).

Thereafter, on January 15, 2008, we issued an Order dismissing the Amended Complaint for, inter alia, failure to comply with Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). (Docs. 24 and 25). By Order dated June 30, 2008, we denied Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration. (Doc. 31).

On July 9, 2008, Plaintiff appealed our dismissal of the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. (Doc. 32). On December 18, 2009, the Third Circuit issued an Opinion vacating our dismissal of the case. The Third Circuit concluded that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint met the notice pleading requirement of Rule 8. (Doc. 39). On December 21, 2009, the Clerk of Court reopened this matter pursuant to the Third Circuit's opinion.

On March 5, 2010, the Defendants filed the instant Motion.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

In considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), courts "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." Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Pinker v. Roche Holdings, Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002)). In resolving a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a court generally should consider only the allegations in the complaint, as well as "documents that are attached to or submitted with the complaint,... and any matters incorporated by reference or integral to the claim, items subject to judicial notice, matters of public record, orders, [and] items appearing in the record of the case." Buck v. Hampton Twp. Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir. 2006).

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the sufficiency of the complaint against the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a). Rule 8(a)(2) requires that a complaint contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, "in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss need not contain detailed factual allegations, it must contain "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, --- U.S. ---, ---, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). To survive a motion to dismiss, a civil plaintiff must allege facts that 'raise a right to relief above the speculative level...." Victaulic Co. v. Tieman, 499 F.3d 227, 235 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Accordingly, to satisfy the plausibility standard, the complaint must indicate that defendant's liability is more than "a sheer possibility." Iqbal, 120 S.Ct. At 1949. "Where a complaint pleads facts that are 'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it 'stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

Under the two-pronged approach articulated in Twombly and later formalized in Iqbal, a district court must first identify all factual allegations that constitute nothing more than "legal conclusions" or "naked assertions." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557. Such allegations are "not entitled to the assumption of truth" and must be disregarded for purposes of resolving a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950. Next, the district court must identify "the 'nub' of the... complaint -- the well-pleaded, nonconclusory factual allegation[s]." Id. Taking these allegations as true, the district judge must then determine whether the complaint states a plausible claim for relief. See id.

However, "a complaint may not be dismissed merely because it appears unlikely that the plaintiff can prove those facts or will ultimately prevail on the merits." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 231 (citing Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1964-65, 1969 n.8). Rule 8 "does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage, but instead simply calls for enough facts to raise a ...


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