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Lynch v. Ramsey

November 4, 2010

ANTHONY LYNCH
v.
CHARLES RAMSEY, ET AL.



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

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiff Anthony Lynch commenced this civil rights action against Charles Ramsey, Police Commissioner for the City of Philadelphia; John Gaittens, Deputy Commissioner; John Gallagher, Philadelphia Police Captain; Joseph O'Donnell, Philadelphia Police Captain; Robert Snyder, Internal Affairs Inspector; Chester O'Neill, Internal Affairs Sergeant; and Joseph Gossner, Internal Affairs Sergeant, in connection with his suspension and termination as a Philadelphia Police Officer. Presently before the Court is Defendants' Partial Motion to Dismiss and Motion for a More Definite Statement. For the reasons that follow, the Motion to Dismiss is granted in part and denied in part, and the Motion for a More Definite Statement is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

The Complaint alleges the following facts. Plaintiff, an African-American man, was hired as a Philadelphia Police Officer in September 1989, and a Labor Collective Bargaining Agreement generally governed the terms of his employment. (Compl. ¶¶ 7, 15.) According to the Agreement, he could be terminated only if, after due process of law, there existed good cause. (Id. ¶ 7.) For approximately sixteen years, Plaintiff had no record of disciplinary infractions and passed each of several Police Department drug tests. (Id. ¶ 9.)

On August 27, 2008, Plaintiff was suspended without pay by Police Commissioner Ramsey. (Id. ¶ 10.) On September 6, 2008, Plaintiff was terminated. (Id. ¶¶ 11, 17.) In addition to firing Plaintiff, Ramsey and Deputy Commissioner Gaittens also opposed Plaintiff's efforts to obtain unemployment benefits. (Id. ¶ 21.) Plaintiff initiated arbitration pursuant to the Collective Bargaining Agreement. (Id. ¶ 13.) On December 1, 2009, the arbitration panel reversed and vacated Plaintiff's suspension and termination, and awarded Plaintiff back pay. (Id. ¶ 13.) On January 20, 2010, Ramsey and Gaittens suspended Plaintiff again. (Id. ¶ 14.)

The Complaint alleges that Plaintiff's 2008 suspension and termination, and his 2010 suspension, were based upon his race and his exercise of certain constitutionally protected activities. The Complaint lists three constitutionally protected activities which form the basis of Plaintiff's retaliation claims with respect to both his 2008 suspension and termination and his 2010 suspension:

(1) Plaintiff's ownership of a handgun and two shotguns, which is protected by the Second Amendment; (2) Plaintiff's raising two children in a home with firearms, which is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment; and (3) Plaintiff's reporting the burglary of his home, which involved the theft of one of his firearms, which is protected by the First Amendment. (Id. ¶¶ 15, 19). The Complaint also alleges that Plaintiff's 2010 suspension was based on Plaintiff's grieving his 2008 suspension and termination, which is protected by the First Amendment. (Id. ¶ 17.)

The Complaint further alleges that Plaintiff's home and car were unreasonably searched, in violation of the Fourth Amendment and that two shotguns were unreasonably seized during this search. (Id. ¶¶ 19, 20.) Several Internal Affairs Officers participated in the search, including Sergeant O'Neill. (Id. ¶ 23.) The shotguns were seized by Detective Small, whose superiors were Captain Gallagher, Captain O'Donnell, and Internal Affairs Inspector Snyder. (Id. ¶¶ 4, 23.)

Plaintiff also was subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures of his person, specifically a "compelled" drug test and an "unwilling" psychological evaluation, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. (Id. ¶¶ 19, 20.) The Complaint further alleges that on one occasion, 18th District supervisors ordered Plaintiff to leave work, falsely claiming that he had been fired. (Id. ¶ 23.)

The Complaint asserts two causes of action. Count I asserts a claim for violation of Plaintiff's civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against all Defendants. Specifically, Count I alleges that Defendants violated Plaintiff's right to free speech and petition under the First Amendment. Count I also alleges that Defendants violated Plaintiff's First Amendment right to "self-preservation." Count I further alleges that Defendants violated Plaintiff's right to own firearms guaranteed by the Second Amendment. Count I also alleges that Defendants subjected Plaintiff to unreasonable searches and seizures in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Count I further alleges that Defendants interfered with Plaintiff's right to raise his children in a home with firearms, as protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. (Id. ¶ 19.) Count II asserts a Monell claim against Ramsey and Gaittens.

Defendants have moved, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), to dismiss Plaintiff's claim for the alleged violation of his First Amendment right to "self-preservation," his claim for the alleged violation of his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process, and his claims against Gallagher, O'Donnell, and Snyder. Defendants also have moved, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e), for a more definite statement with respect to the dates of the search of Plaintiff's person, home and car; the seizure of Plaintiff's firearms; the drug test; the psychological evaluation; and the incident in which supervisors falsely ordered Plaintiff to leave work.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A. Motion to Dismiss

When considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), we look primarily at the facts alleged in the complaint and its attachments. Jordan v. Fox, Rothschild, O'Brien & Frankel, 20 F.3d 1250, 1261 (3d Cir. 1994). We take the factual allegations of the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008) (citing Pinker v. Roche Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002)). Legal conclusions, however, receive no deference, and the court is "not bound to accept as true a legal ...


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