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Williams v. City of Scranton

July 22, 2010

MYRON WILLIAMS, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF SCRANTON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Courtare five (5) motions: (1) Defendant Lackawanna County Children and Youth Services's motion to dismiss (Doc. 12); (2)Defendants the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State Police's motion for judgment on the pleadings (Doc. 14); (3) Defendant Community Medical Center's motion to dismiss (Doc. 16); (4) Defendant Scranton Counseling Center's motion to dismiss (Doc. 18); and (5) Defendants Community Life Support, Inc., Kevin Joseph Yetkowskas, and David Flynn's*fn1 motion to dismiss (Doc. 19). For the reasons discussed below, the motions will be granted in part and denied in part.

This Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' federal law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and over Plaintiffs' state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

BACKGROUND

The facts allegedin Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 1) are as follows: This action centers around the events leading to the death of Brenda Williams ("decedent"). (Compl. ¶¶ 4, 39, Doc. 1.) Plaintiff Myron Williams is the administrator of the decedent's estate. (Id. at 1-2.) Plaintiff Alana Williams is the decedent's daughter. (Id. ¶ 3.) Plaintiff Louise Williams is the decedent's mother, and the guardian of Alana Williams. (Id. ¶¶ 2,3.)

Defendant Pennsylvania State Police was at all relevant times a department of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania charged with securing the safety of all persons within the Commonwealth. (Id. ¶¶ 16, 19.) Defendant City of Scranton was at all times a municipal corporation within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. (Id. ¶ 13.) Defendant Scranton Police Department was at all times a department within the City of Scranton charged with the responsibility of ensuring the safety all persons within the municipality. (Id. ¶ 9.) Defendants James Smith ("Smith"), Eric Jordan ("Jordan"), and Jason Knoch ("Knoch") were at all relevant times officers of the Scranton Police Department. (Id. ¶¶ 5-7.) Defendant Robert Stanek ("Stanek") was at all times a Corporal of the Scranton Police Department. (Id. ¶ 8.)

Defendant Community Life Support, Inc. ("CLS") was at all relevant times an "emergency response entity." (Id. ¶ 10.) Defendants Kevin Joseph Yetkowskas ("Yetkowskas") and David Flynn ("Flynn") were at all relevant times employees of CLS (hereinafter CLS, Yetkowskas, and Flynn as the "CLS Defendants"). (Id. ¶¶ 11-12.) Defendants Lackawanna County Children and Youth Services ("CYS"), Scranton Counseling Center ("SCC"), and Community Medical Center ("CMC") were mental health facilities where decedent was treated. (Compl. ¶¶ 15, 17, 18.)

On or about May 28, 2009, decedent was lawfully on her premises at 1501 North Lincoln Avenue, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. (Id. ¶ 24.) Defendants Jordan and Smith arrived at that location after the Scranton Police Department received a call from the residents at 1422 North Lincoln Avenue. (Id. ¶¶ 27-28.) Smith requested a "302 evaluation," a determination as to whether someone is eligible for involuntary commitment because they are a danger to themselves or others, for the decedent. (Id. ¶ 29.) On prior occasions, decedent had been evaluated by CYS, SCC, and CMC to determine if she was a danger to herself or others. (Id. ¶ 31.) Stanek and Knoch arrived at the scene to assist Smith and Jordan. (Id. ¶ 32.) Stanek was the senior officer at the scene and was in charge of determining whether the decedent was "302 eligible." (Id. ¶ 8.) Yetkowskas and Flynn also "arrived at the scene pursuant to a request for a '302 Evaluation'." (Id. ¶ 33.) Stanek determined that the decedent was not "302 eligible," and Yetkowskas and Flynn left the scene. (Id. ¶ 34-35.) Subsequently, Jordan, Smith, Stanek, and Knoch "lost control of the scene" and fired shots at decedent, mortally wounding her. (Id. ¶¶ 36-37.) After being transported by CLS to CMC, decedent was pronounced dead. (Id. ¶¶ 38-39.)

Plaintiffs filed their Complaint on February 22, 2010. (Doc. 1.) Between April 6 and April 9, 2010, Defendants filed several motions to dismiss (Docs. 12, 16, 18, 19) and a motion for judgment on the pleadings (Doc. 14). Each of the motions, except Defendant CYS's motion, have been briefed by both parties and all are now ripe for disposition.*fn2

LEGAL STANDARDS

I. Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings

Under Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, after the pleadings are closed, any party may move for judgment on the pleadings. A Rule 12(c) motion is designed to provide a means for disposing of cases when the material facts are not in dispute and a judgment on the merits can be achieved by focusing on the content of the pleadings and any facts of which the court will take judicial notice. See CHARLES ALAN WRIGHT AND ARTHUR R. MILLER, FEDERAL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE § 1367. A court should only grant a motion for judgment on the pleadings if it is clear that the merits of the controversy can be fully and fairly decided in this summary manner. See id. at § 1369. In deciding a motion for judgment on the pleadings, a court must consider the facts alleged in the pleadings and the inferences drawn from these facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Oxford Assocs. v. Waste Sys. Auth. of E. Montgomery County, 271 F.3d 140, 144-45 (3d Cir. 2001); McCoy v. Southeastern Pa. Transp. Auth., No. 01-5881, 2002 WL 376913 at *1 (E.D. Pa. 2002). The motion may only be granted if there are no factual allegations in the pleadings which, if proven, would allow the nonmoving party to recover. See Oxford Assocs., 271 F.3d at 144-45; McCoy, 2002 WL 376913 at *1.

II. Motion to Dismiss

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 ...


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