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Julia Calipo v. Butler County Cranberry Township Police Department

February 15, 2012

JULIA CALIPO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BUTLER COUNTY CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP POLICE DEPARTMENT, OFFICERS BOB ONEILL, EVANSTON, AND MEYERS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: McLAUGHLIN, Sean J., District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff, Julia Calipo, proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights action on December 20, 2010 against the Butler County Cranberry Township Police Department, and Officers Bob Oneill, Evanston and Meyers for alleged violations of her federal civil rights and Pennsylvania state law. Presently pending before the Court is the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) [ECF No. 16]. This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

I. BACKGROUND

According to the allegations in the Amended Complaint,*fn1 this lawsuit centers around the Defendants' handling of a complaint lodged against the Plaintiff by Tammy Wodarski, the estranged wife or ex-wife of her fiancee, Jeremiah Wodarski. See [ECF No. 14] Amended Complaint. Plaintiff contends that her federal rights were violated when the Defendant Officers "did knowingly take several false statements" from Tammy Wodarski regarding claims of "harassment and intimidation" allegedly perpetrated by the Plaintiff against Ms. Wodarski. Id. at p. 1. Plaintiff alleges that the investigation conducted by the Defendants was biased, "repressed the truth," and resulted in the Plaintiff being arrested and booked in Erie County on "unwarranted" criminal charges. Id. Plaintiff further alleges that the "affidavit" prepared by Defendant Oneill contained a "perjerious" statement relative to his attempts to contact her, and contained several typographical errors, including a wrong address. Id. at pp. 1-2.

Plaintiff alleges that the above actions were taken by the Defendant Officers' pursuant to a "conspiracy" to "enforce their own agenda to illicit harm" to her "general being." Id. at p. 1. Plaintiff contends that on June 14, 2010, Defendant Myers received her civil complaint against Defendant Oneill, along with information showing that she had filed harassment charges against Ms. Wodarski for her conduct directed towards the Plaintiff, for the period from April 7, 2010 through July 6, 2010. Id. Plaintiff claims that a full investigation of her harassment charges against Ms. Wodarski was not performed, and that her "civil complaint" filed against Defendant Oneill was "ignored." Id.

The charges filed against the Plaintiff were ultimately dismissed on December 17, 2010. See [ECF No. 20-1] Reply Ex. A.*fn2 Plaintiff claims that these "false allegations" resulted in extreme mental anguish and suffering, as well as damage to her reputation, and she seeks damages in the amount of $60,000.00. See [ECF No. 14] Amended Complaint p. 2.

II.STANDARD OF REVIEW

Defendants have moved for dismissal of the Plaintiff's claims pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In reviewing a motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a court must "accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3rd Cir. 2008). Because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, her complaint must be "'liberally construed'" and "'held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers[.]'" Brown v. City of Long Branch, 380 Fed. Appx. 235, 238 (3rd Cir. 2010) (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)). Nevertheless, a complaint, even one that is pro se, must be dismissed if it does not allege "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Thakar v. Tan, 372 Fed. Appx. 325, 328 (3rd Cir. 2010) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, __ , 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009)). See also Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (quoting Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949). However, the court is "'not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. In determining the sufficiency of a complaint under Twombly and Iqbal, the court conducts a three step inquiry:

First, the court must "tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1947. 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. Finally, "where 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.

Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 130 (3rd Cir. 2010) (footnote omitted); see also Burtch v. Milberg Factors, Inc., 662 F.3d 212, 221 (3rd Cir. 2011); Thornton v. City of Pittsburgh, 777 F. Supp. 2d 946, 950 (W.D.Pa. 2011).

III.DISCUSSION

Plaintiff's federal claim is premised on 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides a private right of action to:

[e]very person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws. .

42 U.S.C. § 1983. In order to state a claim for conspiracy under § 1983, a plaintiff must demonstrate that: (1) the defendants deprived her of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and (2) conspired to do so while acting under color of state law. See Ridgewood Bd. Of Educ. v. N.E. ex rel. M.E., 172 F.3d 238, 254 (3rd Cir. 1999) ("In order to prevail on a conspiracy claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must prove that persons acting under color of state law conspired to deprive him of a federally protected right.") superseded by statute on other grounds as stated in P.P. v. West Chester Area Sch. Dist., 585 F.3d 727, 730 (3rd Cir. 2009); Dennison v. Pa. Dept. of Corrections, 268 F. Supp. 2d 387, 401 (M.D.Pa. 2003). "As a threshold matter, . a ยง 1983 conspiracy claim only arises when there has been an actual deprivation of a right." Perano v. Township of Tilden, 423 Fed. Appx. 234, 239 (3rd Cir. ...


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