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William J. Dumas v. Lisa Arnold

May 9, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: William W. Caldwell United States District Judge


I. Introduction

Plaintiff, William J. Dumas, filed this civil action alleging, among other things, that he was wrongly detained past his release date. Each of the defendants has filed motions to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff responded by filing a motion to amend his complaint. For the following reasons, we will deny plaintiff leave to amend and will dismiss his complaint.

II. Background

While inartfully pled, we glean from the four corners of the complaint that plaintiff believes he was improperly detained in SCI-Fayette beyond his release date. On July 7, 2005, in a trial before Judge Tylwalk, plaintiff was convicted of driving under the influence in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. (Compl. ¶ 11.) On September 2, 2005, he was sentenced to a period of incarceration of one to two years, but Judge Tylwalk granted bail pending appeal of his sentence. (Compl. ¶¶ 11-12.)

On December 19, 2005, plaintiff was incarcerated at SCI-Fayette because of an unrelated matter in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. (Compl. ¶ 13.) In January of 2007, he was to be transferred to a residential treatment center for the remainder of his sentence on the Dauphin County matter, but the transfer did not occur because of a court commitment received by SCI-Fayette, sent and completed by defendant Arnold, regarding plaintiff's convictions in Lebanon County. (Compl. ¶¶14, 15, 32, 33.) Consequently, the bail that plaintiff posted in September was refunded. (Compl. ¶20.) Plaintiff contends that he should have been released in January of 2007, and thus any additional time at SCI-Fayette violated the U.S. Constitution.

III. Discussion

A. Standard of Review

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) authorizes dismissal of a complaint for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Under Rule 12(b)(6), we must "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." Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008)). Public records may also be considered. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1197 (3d Cir. 1993); see also Sutton v. Royal Chevrolet-Oldsmobile-Pontiac-Buick, Inc., No. 03-cv-1825, 2004 WL 90071, at *3 n3 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 15, 2004).*fn1 While a complaint need only contain "a short and plain statement of the claim," Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), and detailed factual allegations are not required, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964, 167 L.Ed.2d. 929 (2007), a complaint must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955 at 1974. "The plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, - - - U.S. - - - -, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009)(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 127 S.Ct. at 1965). Instead, this requirement "calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element." West Penn Allegheny Health Sys., Inc. v. UPMC, 627 F.3d 85, 98 (3d Cir. 2010)(citing Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234). "[L]abels and conclusions" are not enough, Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. at 1964-65, and a court "'is not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.'" Id., 127 S.Ct. at 1965 (quoted case omitted).

B. Discussion

Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, alleging violations of the First, Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Section 1983 provides, in pertinent part:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory ... subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress....

To state a civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege (1) the violation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States, and (2) that the alleged deprivation was committed or caused by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48, 108 S.Ct. 2250, 2254-55, ...

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