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Weaver v. Beveridge

July 15, 2010

ROBERT WEAVER, PLAINTFF
v.
LAURA BEVERIDGE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Judge Kane

MEMORANDUM

Pending before the Court are the motions to dismiss of Defendants James Reeder ("Reeder") and Laura Beveridge ("Beveridge"). (Doc. Nos. 5, 10.) Pursuant to the following analysis, the Court will grant Reeder's motion to dismiss and partially grant Beveridge's motion.

I. BACKGROUND*fn1

Plaintiff was convicted of rape-related charges in July 2003. (Doc. No. 1 ¶ 27.) At the time of Plaintiff's prosecution, Beveridge served as a detective for the City of York, Pennsylvania. (Id. ¶ 7.) Reeder served as a prosecutor for York County. (Id. ¶ 8.)

Both Beveridge and Reeder worked directly on Plaintiff's criminal case. Beveridge met with Loretta Nispel on or about July 2002. (Doc. No. 1 ¶ 10.) Nispel is the Plaintiff's step-sister. (Id. ¶ 12.) According to Plaintiff's complaint, Nispel made up allegations that she had been raped by Plaintiff and his father, Robert Weaver Sr. (Id. ¶ 13.) Plaintiff alleges that there were "innumerable conflicts" in Nispel's representations to Beveridge, making her comments "materially unreliable." (Id. ¶ 16.)

In October 2002, Beveridge went to Plaintiff's home and told him that she had a warrant for his arrest and that he must accompany her to the police station for questioning. (Doc. No. 1 ¶¶ 20-21.) Plaintiff alleges that Beveridge's claim that she had a warrant was a lie. (Id. ¶ 34.) After arriving at the police station and questioning Plaintiff, Beveridge asked Plaintiff to sign a consent form so that she could search his house. (Id. ¶ 23.) Plaintiff signed the consent form. (Id.) According to the complaint, Beveridge never searched Plaintiff's home or attempted to collect DNA to corroborate Nispel's claims. (Id. ¶¶ 25-26.)

In addition to the charges against Plaintiff and his father, Betty Weaver was also charged with crimes against Nispel. (Doc. No. 1 ¶ 35.) Nispel claimed that Plaintiff and his father had raped her one week before Weaver Sr. got married to Betty Weaver. (Id. ¶ 36.) The charges against Betty Weaver stemmed from her witnessing the alleged rape in her home and covering it up. (Id. ¶ 37.)

All three Weavers were represented by the same attorney, until Plaintiff acquired different counsel.*fn2 (Doc. No. 1 ¶ 36.) Betty Weaver's attorney met with Reeder. (Id. ¶ 38.) Subsequent to this meeting, Betty Weaver's attorney encouraged her to tell the police that she was not present during the alleged rape so that the charges against her could be dropped. (Id. at ¶¶ 38-39.) Betty Weaver did so. (Id. ¶ 39.)

During the course of the criminal case, Plaintiff informed all attorneys that were involved that Betty Weaver was at his home during the alleged events and that she could testify to that fact. (Doc. No. 1 ¶ 40.) However, Betty Weaver did not testify at Plaintiff's trial. (Id.) According to the complaint, Plaintiff believes that prosecutor Reeder "arranged the removal and denial of plaintiff's access to alibi witness Betty Weaver in abuse of his prosecutorial authority all in return for her changing her story." (Id. ¶ 42.)

In July 2003, Plaintiff was convicted of multiple rape-related charges. (Doc. No. 1 ¶ 27.) Over a period of years, Plaintiff filed three petitions under the Post Conviction Relief Act. (Id. ¶ 28.) On or about February 2009, after going through several layers of appeals, the third such petition was remanded to the York County Common Pleas Court. (Id. ¶¶ 29-32.) Instead of retrying the case, the York County District Attorney's Office chose to nol pross the prosecution in May 2009. (Id. ¶ 33.)

Plaintiff filed his complaint in the present case on December 1, 2009, asserting causes of action under the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. (See Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiff alleges that Beveridge unlawfully arrested him in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. (Id. ¶¶ 43.) Plaintiff contends that both Beveridge and Reeder maliciously prosecuted him and violated his First Amendment right to have Betty Weaver testify in his criminal trial. (Id. ¶¶ 44, 45, 56.) On December 24, 2009, Reeder filed his motion to dismiss. (Doc. No. 5) On February 25, 2010, Beveridge filed her motion to dismiss. (Doc. No. 10.)

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

In analyzing a complaint under 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, 515 F.3d at 233 (citation omitted). The plaintiff still must provide more than a formulaic recitation of a claim's elements that amounts to mere labels and conclusions. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Additionally, the complaint's "factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. "This does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage, but instead simply calls ...


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