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Eugene E. Chatman v. the City of Pittsburgh Pa

September 27, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur J. Schwab United States District Judge



Plaintiff, who is appearing pro se, has already been dubbed by this Court as "a frequent flyer" in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania because he has sued numerous defendants over the past decade and commenced at least six other civil lawsuits before the Court, all of which were dismissed as frivolous.

This Court previously granted plaintiff's motion for IFP status, and dismissed his complaint as frivolous under 28 U.S.C. ' 1915(e)(2)(B). Plaintiff then appealed this Court's decision, and on August 8, 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit summarily vacated and remanded this case. Doc. No. 7. In its Opinion (doc. no. 7-2), the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit found that plaintiff's Complaint should not have been dismissed, without first providing plaintiff an opportunity to amend his complaint. In accordance therewith, and on August 9, 2011, this Court issued an Order for plaintiff to file an Amended Complaint no later than September 9, 2011.

On August 15, 2011, plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint (doc. no. 8), and thereafter, defendants filed a Motion for More Definite Statement (doc. no. 9), which this Court denied via Text Order of September 8, 2011.

On September 13, 2011, defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Pr. 12(b)(6), and on September 19, 2011, plaintiff filed his Response in Opposition thereto. Doc. Nos. 10 and 12.

In his Amended Complaint, plaintiff alleges that City of Pittsburgh Police Officers violated his Constitutional Rights on December 29, 2009, and again on February 25, 2010, when he was unlawfully imprisoned. Although the facts preceding these incidents remain somewhat unclear, it appears that plaintiff is alleging that on December 29, 2009, plaintiff was handcuffed by a police officer on the first floor of the apartment building where he resides (The Legacy), was escorted to his apartment, was told not to leave the apartment, and he was issued a citation.

He claims that he was never delinquent in paying his rent. The second incident allegedly took place on February 25, 2010, wherein he asserts that he was handcuffed by police officers Thiros and Freeman, and taken to the county jail.

The above information comprises the factual backdrop of the case, and the exhibits plaintiff attaches to his Amended Complaint (which the Court will consider as integral to and/or matters of public record without converting the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment) further evidence that he was issued a citation of public drunkenness on December 29, 2009, and he was charged with disorderly conduct in state court for his actions on February 25, 2010. Lum v. Bank of America, 361 F.3d 217, 221 n.3 (3d Cir. 2004) (citations omitted). Plaintiff further attaches the incident reports of these events as exhibits to his Amended Complaint. It also appears that he has previously sued "The Legacy" in state court based upon this incident, and this action was dismissed as frivolous.

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a pleading must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." A complaint may be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) if it does not allege Aenough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.@ Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.544, 570 (2007) (abrogating Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957), which allowed dismissal of a claim only if Ano set of facts@ could be conceived to support it)). To survive a Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a claim for relief now Arequires more than labels and conclusions@ or Aa formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.@ Ashcroft v. Iqbal, --- U.S. ---, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). While Rule 8 was "a notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era, . . . it does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions." Id.

Building upon the landmark United States Supreme Court decisions in Twombly, 550 U.S. 554 and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1947 (2009), the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, recently explained that a District Court must take three steps to determine the sufficiency of a complaint:

First, the court must "tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1947 (2009). Second, the court should identify allegations that, "because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.' Id. at 1950. Third, "whe[n] there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement for relief.' Id. This means that our inquiry is normally broken into three parts: (1) identifying the elements of the claim, (2) reviewing the complaint to strike conclusory allegations, and then (3) looking at the well-pleaded components of the complaint and evaluating whether all of the elements identified in part one of the inquiry are sufficiently alleged.

Malleus v. George, No. 10-3539, 2011 F.3d WL 2044166, at *2 (3d Cir. May 26, 2011).

The third step of the sequential evaluation requires this Court to consider the specific nature of the claim(s) presented and to determine whether the facts pled to substantiate the claim(s) are sufficient to show a "plausible claim for relief." "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a Complaint, they must be supported ...

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