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Ingram v. Fish

August 5, 2010

MICHAEL DEVON INGRAM, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ANDREW F. FISH, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Baxter

United States Magistrate Judge Susan Paradise Baxter.

OPINION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Relevant Procedural and Factual History

On August 12, 2009, Plaintiff Michael Devon Ingram, an inmate incarcerated at the Venango County Prison in Franklin, Pennsylvania, filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Named as Defendant is Judge Andrew F. Fish, of the Magisterial District Court 28-3-01, Venango County, Pennsylvania .

In his complaint, Plaintiff claims that he was arrested on May 8, 2009, for possession with intent to deliver, possession, and possession of drug paraphernalia, for which Defendant set bail at $150,000.00. (Complaint at ¶ 6). Plaintiff alleges that he was twice denied requests for bail modification by the Venango County Court of Common Pleas, on June 1, 2009, and July 21, 2009. (Id. at ¶¶ 9-10, and attached exhibits).

On June 3, 2009, tests on the alleged controlled substance confiscated from the Plaintiff revealed that no controlled substance was detected. As a result, Plaintiff was re-charged on July 30, 2009, with new counts of criminal conspiracy, delivery of non-controlled substance, criminal attempt to deliver a non-controlled substance, possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia, and driving while operating privilege is suspended or revoked. (Id. at ¶ 11).

Plaintiff claims that the bail of $150,000.00 ordered by Defendant on May 8, 2009, was excessive under the eighth amendment to the United States Constitution. As relief for his claim, Plaintiff seeks, inter alia, injunctive relief in the form of an order requiring Defendant to "grant a reasonable amount of bail less than $150,000.00, and monetary damages. (Id. at ¶¶ 16-19).

On November 12, 2009, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing that Plaintiff's claims are barred by the doctrine of absolute judicial immunity and the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. [Document # 12]. Despite being given ample time to do so, Plaintiff has failed to file a response to Defendant's motion. Instead, he filed a letter, which purports to disclose names of drug dealers rather than address the points in Defendant's motion to dismiss. [Document # 18]. The parties have consented to having a United States Magistrate Judge exercise jurisdiction over this matter. [Document ## 2, 16]. This matter is now ripe for consideration.

B. Standards of Review

1. Motion to Dismiss

A motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) must be viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and all the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint must be accepted as true. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007). A complaint must be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) if it does not allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007) (rejecting the traditional 12(b)(6) standard set forth in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957)). See also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, ___ U.S. ___, ___, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (May 18, 2009) (specifically applying Twombly analysis beyond the context of the Sherman Act).

The Court need not accept inferences drawn by Plaintiff if they are unsupported by the facts as set forth in the complaint. See California Pub. Employee Ret. Sys. v. The Chubb Corp., 394 F.3d 126, 143 (3d Cir. 2004) citing Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). Nor must the court accept legal conclusions set forth as factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). See also McTernan v. City of York, Pennsylvania, 577 F.3d 521, 531 (3d Cir. 2009) quoting Iqbal, ___ U.S. at ___, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 ("The tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions."). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Although the United States Supreme Court does "not require heightened fact pleading of specifics, [the Court does require] enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570.

In other words, at the motion to dismiss stage, a plaintiff is "required to make a 'showing' rather than a blanket assertion of an entitlement to relief." Smith v. Sullivan, No. 07-cv-528, 2008 WL 482469, at *1 (D.Del. Feb. 19, 2008) quoting Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008). "This 'does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage,' but instead 'simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal ...


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