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Sharpe v. County of Dauphin

August 10, 2010

WALTER ANDRE SHARPE, PLAINTIFF
v.
COUNTY OF DAUPHIN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



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

MANNION, M.J.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION*fn1

Pending before the court is a motion to dismiss the plaintiff's first amended complaint filed on behalf of the defendants County of Dauphin and Joseph Barbush, individually and as an employee of Dauphin County, ("Dauphin County defendants"), (Doc. No. 28), and a motion to dismiss the plaintiff's first amended complaint filed on behalf of defendants Montgomery County, Diane Smith (incorrectly identified as Diane Deantonia) and Dorothy Masseli, ("Montgomery County defendants"), (Doc. No. 31). Based upon a review of the plaintiff's first amended complaint, as well as the motions to dismiss and related materials, it is recommended that the defendants' motions to dismiss be granted in part and denied in part as more fully discussed herein.

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

By way of relevant procedural background, on May 7, 2009, the plaintiff filed the instant action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. (Doc. No. 1). By order dated September 28, 2009, the plaintiff was permitted to file an amended complaint. (Doc. No. 23). The plaintiff filed his first amended complaint on October 19, 2009. (Doc. No. 26).

On November 18, 2009, a motion to dismiss the plaintiff's first amended complaint was filed on behalf of the Dauphin County defendants, (Doc. No. 28), along with a supporting brief, (Doc. No. 30).

On November 19, 2009, a motion to dismiss the plaintiff's first amended complaint was filed on behalf of the Montgomery County defendants, (Doc. No. 31), along with a supporting brief, (Doc. No. 32).

On January 4, 2010, the plaintiff filed a consolidated brief in opposition to the defendants' motions to dismiss. (Doc. No. 36).

The Montgomery County defendants filed a reply brief on January 8, 2010. (Doc. No. 37).

II. LEGAL STANDARD

The defendants' motions to dismiss are brought pursuant to the provisions of Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). This rule provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, if the plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The moving party bears the burden of showing that no claim has been stated, Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005), and dismissal is appropriate only if, accepting all of the facts alleged in the complaint as true, the plaintiff has failed to plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007) (abrogating "no set of facts" language found in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)). The facts alleged must be sufficient to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. at 1965. This requirement "calls for enough fact[s] to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of" necessary elements of the plaintiff's cause of action. Id. Furthermore, in order to satisfy federal pleading requirements, the plaintiff must "provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief," which "requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008) (brackets and quotations marks omitted) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. at 1964-65).

In considering a motion to dismiss, the court generally relies on the complaint, attached exhibits, and matters of public record. Sands v. McCormick, 502 F.3d 263 (3d Cir. 2007). The court may also consider "undisputedly authentic document[s] that a defendant attaches as an exhibit to a motion to dismiss if the plaintiff's claims are based on the [attached] documents." Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). Moreover, "documents whose contents are alleged in the complaint and whose authenticity no party questions, but which are not physically attached to the pleading, may be considered." Pryor v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 288 F.3d 548, 560 (3d Cir. 2002). However, the court may not rely on other parts of the record in determining a motion to dismiss. Jordan v. Fox, Rothschild, O'Brien & Frankel, 20 F.3d 1250, 1261 (3d Cir. 1994).

Generally, the court should grant leave to amend a complaint before dismissing it as merely deficient. See, e.g., Fletcher-Harlee Corp. v. Pote Concrete Contractors, Inc., 482 F.3d 247, 252 (3d Cir. 2007); Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 108 (3d Cir. 2002); Shane v. Fauver, 213 F.3d 113, 116-17 (3d Cir. 2000). "Dismissal without leave to amend is justified only on the grounds of bad faith, undue delay, prejudice, or futility." Alston v. Parker, 363 F.3d 229, 236 (3d Cir. 2004).

III. DISCUSSION

In his complaint, the plaintiff alleges that he was a defendant in domestic relations and child support proceedings. (Doc. No. 26, ¶11). In those proceedings, the plaintiff alleges that he was compliant with his obligations pursuant to orders of court and, to the extent that he was not, he had a "lawful excuse, reason, or defense for his non-compliance." (Id. at ¶12).

In 2001, the plaintiff alleges that he became the defendant in other domestic relations proceedings in Dauphin County. (Id. at ¶17). The plaintiff alleges, however, that he was not, and never was, the proper defendant in those proceedings, and that he was not the father of the child for whom domestic relations child support was owed or collected in those proceedings. (Id. at ¶18). Despite this, the plaintiff alleges that the Dauphin County Domestic ...


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