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Gloria Scarnati v. Pa Office of the Inspector General

December 8, 2011

GLORIA SCARNATI,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
PA OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL,
DEFENDANT.



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

ELECTRONICALLY FILED

MEMORANDUM ORDER RE: DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS (DOC. NO. 7) AND PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. NO. 9)

I.Introduction

In the instant case, Plaintiff, Gloria E. Scarnati (herein after "Plaintiff") alleges that Defendants, Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General, and Donald L. Patterson, former Director of the Office of Inspector General ("OIG")*fn1 : (1) violated her "4th Amendment Constitutional Civil Right to Privacy and Security of her papers" by leaving an OIG business card in her door without a warrant and "in plain sight for anyone who walked by" and (2) violated the 14th Amendment by failing to serve her with a copy of the Complaint that "may have been filed" against her. Doc. No. 3. Plaintiff demands judgment against Defendants in the amount of $200,000.00 or a signed letter of apology from the current OIG Director and her entire file. Id.

Presently before this Court is Defendants‟ Motion to Dismiss. Doc. No. 7. Plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 9) simultaneously with filing her Response to Defendants‟ Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 10). For the reasons which follow, Defendant‟s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 7) will be GRANTED and Plaintiff‟s Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 9) will be DENIED AS MOOT.

II.Standard of Review

In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, federal courts require notice pleading, as opposed to the heightened standard of fact pleading. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only ""a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,‟ in order to "give the defendant fair notice of what the .claim is and the grounds on which it rests.‟" Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)).

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 by factual allegations." Id.; See also Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11.

The Court may not dismiss a Complaint (or Counterclaim) merely because it appears unlikely or improbable that plaintiff can prove the facts alleged or will ultimately prevail on the merits. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 563 n.8. Instead, the Court must ask whether the facts alleged raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary elements. Id. at 556. Generally speaking, a Complaint (or Counterclaim) that provides adequate facts to establish "how, when, and where" will survive a Motion to Dismiss. Fowler, 578 F.3d at 212; See also Guirguis v. Movers Specialty Servs., Inc., 346 Fed.Appx. 774, 776 (3d Cir. 2009). In short, the Motion to Dismiss should not be granted if a party alleges facts which could, if established at trial, entitle him to relief. Fowler, 578 F.3d at 563 n.8.

III.Discussion

A.Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 7)

The Court will first address Defendants‟ Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff‟s Complaint (Doc. No. 7) because if said Motion is granted, it would moot Plaintiff‟s ...


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