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Myron Williams, et al v. City of Scranton

March 30, 2011

MYRON WILLIAMS, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF SCRANTON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is a filing styled as the plaintiffs' amended complaint (Doc. 38) as well as three motions to dismiss the amended complaint (Docs. 42, 43, 48).

I. Background

By order dated July 22, 2010, (Doc. 33), the Court dismissed the plaintiffs' complaint and ordered them to submit an amended complaint. It appears that the so-called "amended complaint" is identical to the dismissed complaint. For example, the Court's order held that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State Police were immune from suit, and yet plaintiffs renew their same claims against these defendants in their "amended" complaint.

II. Discussion

A. Legal Standard on a Motion to Dismiss

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. In deciding a 12(b)(6) motion, 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, 233 (3d Cir. 2008). Dismissal is appropriate only if a plaintiff has failed to plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), which is to say "enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of illegal[ity]." In re Ins. Brokerage Antitrust Litig., 618 F.3d 300, 319 (3d Cir. 2010) (quoting Arista Records, LLC v. Doe 3, 604 F.3d 110, 120 (2d Cir. 2010) (alteration in Arista Records)).

"A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. "Where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not 'shown'-'that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Id. at 1950.

In line with the pleading standards established by the Supreme Court's decisions in Twombly and Iqbal, the Third Circuit has instructed district courts to conduct a two-part analysis when disposing of a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009). This analysis proceeds as follows:

First, the factual and legal elements of a claim should be separated. The District Court must accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions. Second, a District Court must then determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a "plausible claim for relief." In other words, a complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief. A complaint has to "show" such an entitlement with its facts.

Id. at 210--11 (internal citations omitted).

B. Defendant CLS's Motion to Dismiss

The Community Life Support (CLS) defendants argue (Doc. 42) that the amended complaint fails to show that they are state actors, and thus they cannot be liable under §§ 1983 or 1988.

In some circumstances, even private parties may be regarded as state actors for ยง 1983 purposes. In determining whether state action exists, courts focus on whether the actor's conduct is fairly attributable to the government. See Lugar v. Edmonson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 937--42 (1982). This inquiry has two parts: courts consider "first whether the claimed constitutional deprivation resulted from the exercise of a right or privilege having its source in state authority, and second, whether the private party charged with the deprivation could be described in all fairness as a state actor." Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Co., Inc., 500 U.S. 614, 620 (1991) (applying Lugar) (internal citations omitted). Private parties have been found to be state actors when there is ...


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