Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Mary Belinda Bolden, Administratrix For Shawn Lamont v. Pennsylvania Bureau of Prisons

October 18, 2011

MARY BELINDA BOLDEN, ADMINISTRATRIX FOR SHAWN LAMONT BOLDEN, DECEASED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PENNSYLVANIA BUREAU OF PRISONS, AND DAVID DIGUGLIELMO, CAPTAIN THOMAS DOMAN, CAPTAIN J. JOHNSON, CAPTAIN JEROME STRICKLAND, CAPTAIN WILLIAMS, CORRECTIONS OFFICER BURTON, CORRECTIONS OFFICER S. GREEN, CORRECTIONS OFFICER VITO MANISCALO, CORRECTIONS OFFICER PATRICIA ROBINSON, CORRECTIONS OFFICER COMER RUCKER, CORRECTIONS OFFICER SMITH, CORRECTIONS [OFFICER] WALTERS, AND CORRECTIONS OFFICERS JOHN DOE 1-10, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Buckwalter, S.J.

MEMORANDUM

Currently pending before the Court are the following: (1) a Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("DOC"),*fn1 Jerome Strickland, J. Johnson, Thomas Dohman, Vito Maniscalo, "Burton," Comer Rucker, Patricia Robinson, Captain Williams, Corrections Officer Smith, and Corrections Officer S. Green (collectively "Defendants"); and (2) a Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint filed by Plaintiff Mary Belinda Bolden. For the following reasons, the Motion to Dismiss is denied without prejudice and the Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint is granted.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff's son, Shawn Lamont Bolden, was an inmate at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institute at Graterford ("Graterford"). (Am. Compl. ¶ 24.) According to the facts alleged in the Amended Complaint, Mr. Bolden was in Graterford's dining hall on January 25, 2009, when he was attacked without cause or justification by all of the individually named Defendants. (Id. ¶¶ 24-25, 33.) These Defendants assaulted Mr. Bolden with their fists, boots, nightsticks, and flash lights before dragging him back to his cell, where they continued to beat him. (Id. ¶¶ 25-27.) Plaintiff alleges that Mr. Bolden died as a result of the severe injuries he sustained during the attack, and that several of the officers responsible for his death were transferred to other facilities in order to conceal their wrongdoing. (Id. ¶¶ 30-32.)

On behalf of her son, Plaintiff filed a pro se Complaint in this Court on January 24, 2011. Several months later, Plaintiff obtained counsel and filed an Amended Complaint on July 26, 2011. The Amended Complaint includes the following seven counts: (i) violations of Plaintiff's decedent's civil rights secured by the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments and 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (ii) assault and battery; (iii) negligence and gross negligence; (iv) negligent infliction of emotional distress; (v) intentional infliction of emotional distress; (vi) violation of the Wrongful Death Act, 42 Pa. C.S. § 8301; and (vii) violation of the Probate Estates and Fiduciary Code, 20 Pa. C.S. §§ 3372, 3373 and 42 Pa. C.S. § 8302 ("the Survival Act"). (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 46-73.) The moving Defendants filed the present Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint on August 4, 2011. Rather than directly respond to Defendants' Motion, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint on September 13, 2011. Plaintiff contends that the Second Amended Complaint would correct the alleged pleading deficiencies that are the subject of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. (Pl.'s Mot. Amend ¶ 10.) Finally, Defendants filed a Response in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion on September 22, 2011. Both Motions are now ripe for the Court's consideration.

II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

A. Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a defendant bears the burden of demonstrating that the plaintiff has not stated a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6); see also Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005). In Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), the United States Supreme Court recognized that "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. at 555. It emphasized that it would not require a "heightened fact pleading of specifics, but only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570.

In the subsequent case of Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937 (2009), the Supreme Court enunciated two fundamental principles applicable to a court's review of a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. First, it noted that "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. at 1949. Thus, although "[Federal] Rule [of Civil Procedure] 8 marks 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. at 1950.

Second, the Supreme Court emphasized that "only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss." Id. "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will . . . be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, nothing in Twombly or Iqbal has altered some of the fundamental underpinnings of the Rule 12(b)(6) standard of review. Arner v. PGT Trucking, Inc., No. Civ.A.09-0565, 2010 WL 1052953, at *2 (W.D. Pa. Mar. 22, 2010); Spence v. Brownsville Area Sch. Dist., No. Civ.A.08-0626, 2008 WL 2779079, at *2 (W.D. Pa. July 15, 2008). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 requires only a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief and need not contain detailed factual allegations. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8; Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008). Further, the court must "accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Buck v. Hampton Twp. Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir. 2006). Finally, the court must "determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Pinkerton v. Roche Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002).

B. Motion for Leave to Amend

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), a party may seek the court's leave to amend a pleading, and the court should freely grant such leave "when justice so requires." Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has held that "absent undue or substantial prejudice, an amendment should be allowed under Rule 15(a) unless 'denial [can] be grounded in bad faith or dilatory motive, truly undue or unexplained delay, repeated failure to cure deficiency by amendments previously allowed or futility of amendment.'" Lundy v. Adamar of N.J., Inc., 34 F.3d 1173, 1196-97 (3d Cir. 1994) (quoting Bechtel v. Robinson, 886 F.2d 644, 652-53 (3d Cir. 1989)).

III. DISCUSSION

Defendants move to dismiss the Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)*fn2 and 12(b)(6). Their Motion consists of three separate arguments. First, Defendants contend that the suits against them in their official capacities are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. (Defs.' Mem. Supp. Mot. Dismiss 5-6.) Second, they argue that the Amended Complaint contains insufficient factual allegations of wrongdoing. (Id. at 6-9.) Finally, Defendants contend that the state law claims against them are barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. (Id. at 9-12.) ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.