IN THE UNITED STATED DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
April 6, 2011
SHELLY L. BRYANT PLAINTIFF,
STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA (ALLEGHENY COUNTY FAMILY DIVISION) DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Donetta W. Ambrose Senior Judge, U.S. District Court
In this civil action, Plaintiff avers that the Allegheny County Family
Division improperly opened an active child support case against him
without proof of paternity, and otherwise improperly dealt with the
custody and parental rights regarding the child involved, and also
improperly provided benefits to a woman, apparently the mother of the
child involved. Defendant has filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint
on various grounds. The case caption indicates that the Defendant is
"State of Pennsylvania (Allegheny County Family Division)," and the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was served with the Complaint.*fn1
Before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, pursuant
to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6).
The standard of review is the same for a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) and (6). Easley v. New Century Mortg. Corp., 394 Fed. Appx. 946, 947 (3d Cir. 2010). Moreover, pro se submissions are to be liberally construed. In deciding a motion to dismiss, all factual allegations, and all reasonable inferences therefrom, must be accepted as true and viewed in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Colburn v. Upper Darby Twp., 838 F.2d 663, 666 (3d Cir. 1988). A claim is plausible on its face, and not subject to dismissal, "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, U.S. , 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 167 L. Ed. 2d 929 (2007)). While "[t]he plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement' . it asks for more than a sheer possibility.." Id. at 949. A motion to dismiss will be granted if the plaintiff has not articulated facts sufficient to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bangura v. City of Philadelphia, 338 Fed. Appx. 261 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing Twombly, 127 S. Ct. at 1965).
As a threshold matter, the Commonwealth contends that it is immune from suit in federal court, and that no potential exceptions apply. I agree. "[I]t is clear that the States possess immunity from suit in the federal courts, also known as Eleventh Amendment immunity." Lombardo v. Pennsylvania, 540 F.3d 190, 194-195 (3d Cir. 2008). As pleaded, Plaintiff's Complaint does not implicate any exception to that immunity. See, e.g., MCI Telecomm. Corp. v. Bell Atlantic-Pennsylvania, 271 F.3d 491 (3d Cir. 2001) (discussing exceptions). Accordingly, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is entitled to dismissal of this action.
The Complaint is dismissed. Plaintiff may file an amended pleading, in order to identify proper defendant(s) to this action and otherwise attempt to state a claim for which relief may be granted, within twenty (20) days from the date of this Order.*fn2
AND NOW, this 6th day of April, 2011, it is so ORDERED.
BY THE COURT:
Donetta W. Ambrose