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Michael Yeager v. Lackawanna County Correctional Facility and

March 28, 2011

MICHAEL YEAGER, PLAINTIFF
v.
LACKAWANNA COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY AND
LACKAWANNA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Munley

MEMORANDUM

Before the court for disposition are Defendants Lackwanna County Correctional Facility and Lackawanna County Sheriff's Department's motions to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The motions are ripe for disposition.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Michael Yeager ("Yeager") was charged with Theft by Unlawful Taking, Receiving Stolen Property, and Criminal Mischief after an alleged incident on February 28, 2009. (Compl. ¶ 14 (Doc. 1)). A warrant was issued for Yeager's arrest. (Id. ¶ 15). On March 22, 2009 Yeager was picked up on the warrantand released after appearing before a magistrate. (Id. ¶ 16). Yeager then failed to appear for a preliminary hearing on March 25, 2009 and another warrant was issued for his arrest. (Id. ¶¶ 17, 18).

Upon learning of the issuance of the second warrant, Yeager personally appeared at the Lackwanna County Courthouse and presented himself to Defendant Lackawanna County Sheriff's Department ("the Sheriff's Department"). (Id. ¶ 18). Yeager alleges that he provided the Sheriff's Department with certain documentation, "and was assured that the warrant was being lifted." (Id.) Yeager spoke with Chief Public Defender Sidney Prejean and applied for representation by a public defender. (Id.)

On April 9, 2009 at 11:00 p.m., members of the Scranton Police Department, including Officer Jessica Dining, responded to Yeager's residence and executed the second warrant which had not, in fact, been rescinded. (Compl. ¶¶ 19, 20). Yeager protested that the warrant was in error and offered to provide the officers with documentation, but the officers arrested Yeager and took him into custody. (Id. ¶¶ 21-23).Yeager was remanded to the custody of Defendant Lackawanna County Correctional Facility ("the Correctional Facility") and was an inmate for eight days, from April 9, 2009 until April 16, 2009. (Id. ¶ 23).

Yeager alleges that he "requested several opportunities to contact his attorney or talk with one of the counselors at the prison and was denied[.]" (Compl. ¶ 25).It was not until April 16, 2009-- the day of his release-- that Yeager was allowed to speak with a counselor and call Public Defender Prejean. (Id.) The warrant was lifted shortly thereafter and Yeager was released. (Id.)

On July 23, 2010 Yeager filed his complaint. (Doc. 1).*fn1 Count I of the complaint alleges that "[t]he Defendants, acting under sixth [sic] color of state law, deprived the Plaintiff of his rights under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, including, but not limited to, his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and his right not to be deprived of his liberty without due process of law . . . in violation of . . . 42 U.S.C. Section 1983[.]" (Compl. ¶ 30). Count II of Yeager's complaint purports to raise a claim under Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, "including his right to be secure in his person from unreasonable searches and seizures, and to be secure against unlawful arrest[.]" (Compl. ¶ 32). The Sheriff's Department and The Correctional Facility filed motions to dismiss on October 4, 2010. (Docs. 9, 10). Yeager filed briefs in opposition on January 14, 2011. (Docs. 14, 15). On March 2, 2011 the case was reassigned to the undersigned judge, bringing the case to its present posture.

JURISDICTION

The court has federal question jurisdiction over this case brought under section 1983 for violation of plaintiff's constitutional rights. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331 ("The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States."); 28 U.S.C. §§ 1343(a)(3), (4) (granting district courts jurisdiction over civil actions brought to redress deprivations of constitutional or statutory rights by way of damages or equitable relief).

The court has supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff's state-law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) ("In any civil action of which the district courts have original jurisdiction, the district courts shall have supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims that are so related to claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or controversy under Article II of the United States Constitution.").

LEGAL STANDARD

When a 12(b)(6) motion is filed, the sufficiency of a complaint's allegations are tested. Granting the motion is appropriate if, accepting as true all the facts alleged in the complaint, the plaintiff has not pleaded "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," or put another way, "nudged [his or her] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The Third Circuit interprets Twombly to require the plaintiff to describe "enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of" each necessary element of the claims alleged in the complaint. Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Moreover, the plaintiff must allege facts that "justify moving the case beyond the pleadings to the next stage of litigation." Id. at 234-35.

In relation to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), the complaint need only provide "'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,'" Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted). "[T]he factual detail in a complaint [cannot be] so undeveloped that it does not provide a defendant the type of notice of claim which is contemplated by Rule 8." Phillips, 515 ...


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