Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

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.

Daniel S. Griffin v. Russell Walbert

January 17, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Conaboy


Here we consider the two motions to dismiss pending in this case: Motion of Defendant Russell Walbert to Dismiss (Doc. 51), and Defendant Berks County Assistant District Attorney Howard's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) (Doc. 53). Both motions seek dismissal of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc. 49). For the reasons discussed below, the motions are granted.

I. Background

The background of this case was set out in the Court's Memorandum and Order issued on October 7, 2007. (Doc. 42 at 1-12.) Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc. 49) contains an "Introductory Statement" is basically a conclsuory summation of his case. (Doc. 49 at 1.) Plaintiff also states that "all factual averments in the original complaint are incorporated herein by reference."*fn1 (Id.)

Plaintiff's Amended Complaint contains two counts: Count I, "Plaintiff against the Defendants Walbert and Howard for violating Daniel Griffin's 4th Amendment Rights" (Doc. 49 at 2); and Count II, "Plaintiff against Defendant Harding for the Violation of Plaintiff's 4th Amendment Right to Be Free of Excessive Force While Being Taken into Custody" (id. at 5).

Because Count I is the only count at issue in the pending motions to dismiss, here we provide only a brief recitation of the facts related to the claims contained in Count I of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint contains minimal factual averments. Therefore, most background information is derived from other documents.

According to Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, Defendant Walbert caused Plaintiff to be arrested on or about May 14, 2009. (Doc. 49 ¶ 10.) Plaintiff's Complaint establishes that the event which triggered the events about which Plaintiff complains was a traffic stop in which Defendant Walbert, a police officer in Fleetwood Borough, Berks County, Pennsylvania, stopped Plaintiff in Berks County for a "purported traffic violation" and Plaintiff told Defendant Walbert that he was an off-duty municipal police officer. (Doc. 1 ¶ 15.) (Plaintiff does not state the date of the Berks County traffic stop.)

At some point after the Berks County traffic stop, Defendant Walbert made an inquiry to Defendant Keith Keiper, Chief of Police of Kingston Borough, Pennsylvania. (Id.) (Kingston is the municipality to which Plaintiff alleged law enforcement attachment.) Plaintiff maintains that following Defendant Walbert's inquiry, Defendant Keiper, Defendant Paul Keating (Kingston's Municipal Manager), and Defendant Donald Crane (a police captain employed by the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Police Department) developed a plan to arrest him on charges of "impersonating a police officer" and "false identification to law enforcement." (Id.) Plaintiff states at the time he was no longer a police officer and no longer a public employee. (Doc. 49 ¶ 11.)

Plaintiff asserts that "on or about this time, upon information and belief" Berks County Assistant District Attorney Howard decided to prosecute Plaintiff in response to pressure from the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office. (Doc. 49 ¶ 12.) Plaintiff adds that Defendant Walbert was aware of this pressure, admitting to Plaintiff the matter "was out of my hands now," and yielded to Defendant Howard's advice to bring charges. (Id.) Asserting that Defendant Howard admitted that the Berks County District Attorney had directed Plaintiff's prosecution, Plaintiff maintains this led to Defendant Howard's advice to Defendant Walbert "in turn because of pressure from the Atty. Gen's office."*fn2

(Id. ¶ 14.)

Plaintiff explains that the then Attorney General, Tom Corbett, was a personal friend and political ally of Mayor Haggerty of Kingston, and Plaintiff "believes that Haggerty's anger at Griffin, for his successful support of Lisa Baker who defeated Haggerty in a state Senate race, cause the Atty. Gen's office, presumably at Haggerty's request, to become involved in the unlawful plans to prosecute Griffin. An additional reason was Griffin's past FOP advocacy." (Doc. 49 ¶ 15.)

Asserting that all charges were terminated in his favor, Plaintiff states that they were dismissed in part by a judicial response to a writ of habeas corpus and then by a judicial response after hearing all remaining evidence against him. (Doc. 49 ¶¶ 17-18.) In another filing, Plaintiff states that the false identification charge was dismissed in a habeas corpus petition and the impersonation charge was terminated after a trial which took place in March 2010. (Doc. 56 ay 2.)

Plaintiff does not specifically state in his Amended Complaint that he was arrested pursuant to a warrant and that Defendant Walbert was the affiant, nor did he do so in his Complaint. However, despite the less-than-clear pleading style of the Complaint, we concluded in our previous Memorandum and Order that Plaintiff had been arrested pursuant to a warrant and that Defendant Walbert had provided the affidavit of probable cause.

(Doc. 42 at 22.)*fn3 With his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff does not dispute this finding.

II. Discussion

a. Motion to Dismiss Standard

In McTernan v. City of York, 577 F.3d 521, 530 (3d Cir. 2009), the Third Circuit Court of Appeals set out the standard applicable to a motion to dismiss in light of the United States Supreme Court's decisions Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 433 ...

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.