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Joe L. andrews and Elgin I. v. Monroe County Transit Authority and Charles Jordan

January 18, 2012

JOE L. ANDREWS AND ELGIN I. MCCARGO, EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF ANNIE MCCARGO- ANDREWS, A/K/A ANNIE MURL MCCARGO-ANDREWS, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MONROE COUNTY TRANSIT AUTHORITY AND CHARLES JORDAN, DEFENDANTS,



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (judge Caputo)

MEMORANDUM

Defendants Monroe County Transit Authority and Charles Jordan move to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint. Mr. Andrews, an Alzheimer's patient, claims he was assaulted by Mr. Jordan, a bus driver, after he mistakenly boarded Mr. Jordan's bus. Mr. Andrews further alleges the Transit Authority unlawfully exposed him to this assault by failing to train Mr. Jordan to properly deal with the mentally disabled. The Transit Authority and Mr. Jordan argue the complaint fails to sufficiently allege any of the elements of a "state created danger" claim. The Court agrees and will grant the motion.

BACKGROUND

Mr. Andrews and Ms. McCargo allege as follows.

Plaintiffs are Joe L. Andrews and Elgin I. McCargo. Ms. McCargo is the executor of the estate of Annie McCargo-Andrews, who died in December 2009. Mr. and Mrs. Andrews were married in 1993. Defendant Monroe County Transit Authority is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Mr. Jordan was an employee of the Transit Authority during the time relevant to the complaint.

Mr. Andrews was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2000 and began treatment shortly after. At the time of the underlying incident, he was living independently with his wife as his primary caregiver. On October 8, 2009, the Andrews went shopping at Walmart. While checking out, Mr. Andrews got away from his wife and left the store. He then tried to board a Transit Authority bus. After trying to board the bus without paying, Mr. Jordan, the driver, asked him what he was doing. Mr. Andrews, who was visibly confused and nonverbal, then began to take out his penis. Mr. Jordan began yelling at Mr. Andrews. He then grabbed him and threw him off the bus and onto the sidewalk. Mr. Andrews fractured his hip and required hip replacement surgery. As a result of the fall, his mental condition also deteriorated rapidly, and he required frequent hospitalization. He is currently institutionalized and completely incompetent. Mrs. Andrews the passed away from breast cancer in December 2009. The Andrews were thus deprived of their last two months together as husband and wife. The injuries the Andrews suffered were the result of the Transit Authority's failure adequately vet and train Mr. Jordan.

Mr. Andrews and Ms. McCargo filed their complaint on October 7, 2011. Their complaint alleges a federal due process "state-created danger" claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. It also alleges battery and vicarious liability under state law. The Transit Authority and Mr. Jordan filed a motion to dismiss in November. The motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for review.

LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Dismissal is appropriate only if, accepting as true all the facts alleged in the complaint, a plaintiff has not pleaded "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), meaning enough factual allegations "'to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of'" each necessary element, Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556); see also Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993) (requiring a complaint to set forth information from which each element of a claim may be inferred). In light of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), the statement need only "'give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "[T]he factual detail in a complaint [must not be] so undeveloped that it does not provide a defendant [with] the type of notice of claim which is contemplated by Rule 8." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 232; see also Airborne Beepers & Video, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility LLC, 499 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir. 2007).

In deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court should consider the allegations in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, and matters of public record. See Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). The Court may also consider "undisputedly authentic" documents when the plaintiff's claims are based on the documents and the defendant has attached copies of the documents to the motion to dismiss. Id. The Court need not assume the plaintiff can prove facts that were not alleged in the complaint, see City of Pittsburgh v. W. Penn Power Co., 147 F.3d 256, 263 & n.13 (3d Cir. 1998), or credit a complaint's "'bald assertions'" or "'legal conclusions,'" Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997) (quoting In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1429-30 (3d Cir. 1997)). "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009).

When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court's role is limited to determining if a plaintiff is entitled to offer evidence in support of her claims. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). The Court does not consider whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail. See id. A defendant bears the burden of establishing that a plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim. See Gould Elecs. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 178 (3d Cir. 2000).

DISCUSSION

I. Due Process "State-Created Danger" Claim

The "state-created" danger claim will be dismissed because the elements of this claim have not been adequately pled.

Under section 1983, civil remedies are provided to individuals who have sustained a deprivation of rights secured by the United States Constitution or federal law. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. "Section 1983 does not, by its own terms, create substantive rights; it provides only remedies for deprivations of rights established elsewhere in the Constitution or federal laws." Kneipp v. Tedder, 95 F.3d 1199, 1204 (3d Cir.1996) (citing Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n. 3 (1979)). To establish a section 1983 claim a plaintiff must show a violation of a right secured by the United ...


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