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Sharpe v. County of Dauphin

September 7, 2010

WALTER ANDRE SHARPE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COUNTY OF DAUPHIN, JOSEPH BARBUSH, COUNTY OF MONTGOMERY, DIANE DEANTONIA,*FN1 DOROTHY MASSELI, AND JOHN DOES 1-10, DEFENDANTS.



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

Hon. Malachy E. Mannion

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS MEMORANDUM IS AS FOLLOWS:

This matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation ("R&R") of Magistrate Judge Malachy E. Mannion (Doc.40), filed on August 10, 2010 which recommends that we grant in part and deny in part the Motions to Dismiss the Amended Complaint of the County of Dauphin and Joseph Barbush (collectively the "Dauphin County Defendants") (Doc. 28) and the County of Montgomery, Diane Smith and Dorothy Masseli (collectively the "Montgomery County Defendants") (Doc. 31), filed on November 18 and 19, 2009 respectively.

Magistrate Judge Mannion makes the following specific recommendations with respect to the Motions:

1. That the Dauphin County Defendants' Motion be granted with respect to the claims against Dauphin County, including the punitive damages claim;

2. That the Dauphin County Defendants' Motion be denied with respect to Plaintiff's procedural and substantive due process claims and punitive damages claim against Defendant Barbush;

3. That the Dauphin County Defendants' Motion be denied with respect to Defendant Barbush's qualified immunity defense;

4. That the Montgomery County Defendants' Motion be granted with respect to the claims against Montgomery County, including the punitive damages claim; and

5. That the Montgomery County Defendants' Motion be denied with respect to Plaintiff's procedural and substantive due process claims and punitive damages claim against Defendants Smith and Masseli.

On August 23, 2010, the Montgomery County Defendants filed objections to the R&R. (Docs. 41-42). On August 27, 2010, the Plaintiff filed objections to the R&R. (Docs. 43-44). The Dauphin County Defendants did not file objections to the R&R, and the deadline for doing so has passed. Accordingly, this matter is ripe for our review.

For the reasons that follow, we shall adopt in part and reject in part the Magistrate Judge's R&R.

I. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

A. Review of a Magistrate Judge's Report

When objections are filed to the report of a magistrate judge, the district court makes a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 674-75 (1980). The court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the magistrate judge's findings or recommendations. Id. Although the standard of review is de novo, 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) permits whatever reliance the district court, in the exercise of sound discretion, chooses to place on a magistrate judge's proposed findings and recommendations. Raddatz, 447 U.S. at 674-75; see also Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 275 (1976); Goney v. Clark, 749 F.2d 5, 7 (3d Cir. 1984).

B. F.R.C.P. 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss Standard

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 ...


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