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

May 25, 2012


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


Presently before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Revised Amended Complaint (Doc. 14) filed by Defendants Monroe County Transit Authority and Charles Jordan. Joe Andrews, an Alzheimer's patient, claims he was assaulted by Charles Jordan, a bus driver, after he mistakenly boarded a bus driven by Mr. Jordan. Mr. Andrews further alleges that the Transit Authority unlawfully exposed him to this assault by failing to educate and train its employees to properly deal with the mentally disabled and for specifically failing to fire or discipline Mr. Jordan despite his known propensity to act violently towards transit passengers. The Transit Authority and Mr. Jordan argue that the Revised Amended Complaint fails to sufficiently allege a "state-created danger" claim. Because Plaintiffs fail to allege the "affirmative act" element of a "state-created danger" claim, Defendants' motion to dismiss will be granted.


The facts as alleged in the Revised Amended Complaint are 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. (Revised Amended Complaint, ¶ 1) (hereinafter "RAC"). Mr. and Mrs. Andrews were married in 1993. (Id.) Defendant Monroe County Transit Authority is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. (Id. ¶ 2.) Mr. Jordan was an employee of the Transit Authority during the time relevant to the complaint. (Id. ¶ 3.)

Mr. Andrews was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2000 and began treatment shortly after. (Id. ¶ 27.) At the time of the underlying incident, he was living independently with his wife as his primary caregiver. (Id.)

On October 8, 2009, the Andrews went shopping at Walmart. (Id. ¶ 28.) While checking out, Mr. Andrews wandered away from his wife and left the store. (Id. ¶¶ 29-30.) He then attempted to board a Transit Authority bus. (Id. ¶ 30.) 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. (Id. ¶¶ 30-32.)

Mr. Jordan proceeded to yell at Mr. Andrews. (Id. ¶ 34.) Mr. Jordan then grabbed Mr. Andrews, shoved him repeatedly, and threw him off the bus and onto the sidewalk. (Id.) Mr. Jordan then shut the door to the bus. (Id.) Mr. Jordan's attack was not yet completed, however, as he proceeded to reopen the bus door while Mr. Andrews was lying on the sidewalk, exit the bus, and recommence verbally and physically assaulting Mr. Andrews. (Id. ¶ 36.)

As a result, Mr. Andrews fractured his hip and required hip replacement surgery. (Id. ¶ 42.) Because of the fall, Mr. Andrews' mental condition deteriorated rapidly, and he required frequent hospitalization. (Id. ¶ 44.) Now, he is currently institutionalized and completely incompetent. (Id. ¶¶ 45-46.) And, as Mrs. Andrews passed away from breast cancer in December 2009, the Andrews were deprived of their last two months together as husband and wife. (Id. ¶ 47.)

Mr. Andrews and Ms. McCargo filed their original pleading on October 7, 2011. (Doc. 1.) Their complaint alleged a federal due process "state-created danger" claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. It also alleged claims for battery and vicarious liability under state law. After Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the original pleading, the Court dismissed the action because Plaintiffs failed to adequately allege three of the four required elements for a "state-created danger" claim under § 1983 and the Court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims. (Doc. 11.)

Subsequently, on February 8, 2012, Plaintiffs filed a Revised Amended Complaint to cure the deficiencies in the original pleading. (RAC.) The Revised Amended Complaint contains the same causes of action as set forth originally. (Id.) On February 21, 2012, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the Revised Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (Doc. 14.) The motion has now been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.


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. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). 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 their claims. See Semerenko v. Cendant Corp., 223 F.3d 165, 173 (3d Cir. 2000). 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).

"A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain ... a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). The statement required by Rule 8(a)(2) must 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, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). Detailed factual allegations are not required. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. However, mere conclusory statements will not do; "a complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief." Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 211 (3d Cir. 2009). Instead, a complaint must "show" this entitlement by alleging sufficient facts. Id. "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009).

As such, the inquiry at the motion to dismiss stage 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, 641 F.3d 560, 563 (3d Cir.2011).

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," Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 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). "The plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. "When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949.

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 ...

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