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Steven Addlespurger v. Tom Corbett

August 1, 2011

STEVEN ADDLESPURGER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TOM CORBETT, PENNSYLVANIA STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL IN HIS OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES; STEPHEN ZAPPALLA, ALLEGHENY COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY IN HIS OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES; DONNA JO MCDANIEL, PRESIDENT JUDGE ALLEGHENY COUNTY FIFTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT IN HER PROFESSIONAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES; RAYMOND BILLOTTE, ADMINISTRATION OF PENNSYLVANIA COURTS FIFTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT IN HIS OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES; KIM BERKELY CLARK, ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE IN HER PROFESSIONAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES; PATRICK QUINN, DOMESTIC RELATIONS SERVICES IN HIS OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES; DAVID WECHT, JUDGE IN HIS OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES; WILLIAM MULLEN, SHERIFF IN HIS OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES; DAN ONORATO, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES; RAMON RUSTIN, JAIL WARDEN IN HIS OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES; DANIEL RICHARDS, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE IN HIS OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES; MICHAEL WOJCIK, COUNTY SOLICITOR IN HIS OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES; AND KATE BARKMAN, DEPARTMENT OF COURT RECORDS IN HER PROFESSIONAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: David Stewart Cercone United States District Judge

Electronic Filing

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Proceeding pro se, Steven Addlespurger ("plaintiff") filed his initial complaint on August 12, 2009. The action was assigned to Magistrate Judge Mitchell who treated it as a second or successive habeas petition. Plaintiff appealed. By order of the Honorable Maryanne Trump Barry of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the action was remanded with direction to consider the complaint as an attempt to commence a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for injunctive relief based on alleged ongoing due process violations in proceedings before the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. Certified Order of Dec. 18, 2009 (Doc. No. 7), at 2.

Plaintiff's complaint was founded on prior civil proceedings in the Family Division of the Court of Common Pleas. Plaintiff‟s former spouse initiated divorce proceedings against him at No. FD04-004718. Based on a number of purported events in those proceedings plaintiff sought punitive damages for "Policy Making Defendants, the County of Allegheny, Family Division DRS Domestic Relations Services et.al, and the Fifth Judicial District." (sic)

On December 30, 2010, plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint in which he named thirteen defendants. He claims these defendants, acting under the color of the law, violated his constitutional rights by taking and imprisoning him eleven times pursuant to child support and contempt orders. Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 12) at 107. Plaintiff asserts that these actions violated his First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.*fn1 He now seeks an award of compensatory damages to be determined by a "jury and/or the court." Id. at 61.

Plaintiff's Amended Complaint is prolix and contains numerous pages of assertions that appear to be grounded on nothing more than conjecture and plaintiff's speculative theories aboutdefendants' motivations. More specifically, plaintiff asserts that in the proceedings he was denied due process, a fair hearing, and equal protection. He lists ten counts against all thirteen named defendants:

1. False Arrest and Imprisonment

2. Detention and Confinement

3. Strip Search

4. Conspiracy

5. Refusing or Neglecting to Prevent

6. Malicious Prosecution

7. Malicious Abuse of Process

8. Assault and Battery

9. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

10. Wire Fraud and Mail Fraud.

Am. Compl. at 2. Presently before the court are motions to dismiss by all defendants. For the reasons set forth below, the motions will be granted.

It is well-settled that in reviewing a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) A[t]he applicable standard of review requires the court to accept as true all allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.@ Rocks v. City of Philadelphia, 868

F.2d 644, 645 (3d Cir. 1989). Under the Supreme Court's decision in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 561 (2007), dismissal of a complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is proper only where the averments of the complaint plausibly fail to raise directly or inferentially the material elements necessary to obtain relief under a viable legal theory of recovery. Id. at 544. In other words, the allegations of the complaint must be grounded in enough of a factual basis to move the claim from the realm of mere possibility to one that shows entitlement by presenting Aa claim to relief that is plausible on its face.@ Ashcroft v. Iqbal, B U.S. B, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

AA 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.@

Id. In contrast, pleading facts that only offer A>labels or conclusions= or >a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do,=@ nor will advancing only factual allegations that are merely consistent with a defendant=s liability. Id. Similarly, tendering only Anaked assertions@ that are devoid of Afurther factual enhancement@ falls short of presenting sufficient factual content to permit an inference that what has been presented is more than a mere possibility of misconduct. Id. at 1949-50; see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563 n. 8 (A complaint states a claim where its factual averments sufficiently raise a A>reasonably founded hope that the [discovery] process will reveal relevant evidence= to support the claim.@) (quoting Dura Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Broudo, 544 U.S. 336, 347 (2005) & Blue Chip Stamps v. Manor Drug Stores, 421 U.S. 723, 741 (1975)); accord Morse v. Lower Merion School Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997) (a court need not credit "bald assertions" or "legal conclusions" in assessing a motion to dismiss) (citing with approval Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, FEDERAL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE § 1357 (2d ed.1997) ("courts, when examining 12(b)(6) motions, have rejected 'legal conclusions,' 'unsupported conclusions,' 'unwarranted inferences,' 'unwarranted deductions,' 'footless conclusions of law,' or 'sweeping legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations.'").

This is not to be understood as imposing a probability standard at the pleading stage. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (AThe plausibility standard is not akin to a >probability requirement,= but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.@); Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 235 (3d Cir. 2008) (same). Instead, A[t]he Supreme Court's Twombly formulation of the pleading standard can be summed up thus: >stating ... a claim requires a complaint with enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest the required element ... [and provides] enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element.=@ Phillips, 515 F.3d at 235; see also Wilkerson v. New Media Technology Charter School Inc., 522 F.3d 315, 321 (3d Cir. 2008) (AThe complaint must state >enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the ...


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