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Victor Hewitt v. Jaime Luquis

August 27, 2012

VICTOR HEWITT,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
JAIME LUQUIS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stengel, J.

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiff Victor Hewitt's claim arises from an incident in which Cedric Sutton, a Community Corrections Officer, brutally attacked him as he was walking past the Community Corrections Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Hewitt filed an amended complaint, alleging that Jaime Luquis, the Director of the Center, maintained a custom, policy, and practice that resulted in violations of Hewitt's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On March 6, 2012, Luquis filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint. For the reasons set forth below, I will grant the motion without prejudice.

I. Background

On or about November 17, 2010, around 9:50 p.m., Plaintiff Victor Hewitt ("Hewitt" or "Plaintiff") was walking past the Community Corrections Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. (Am. Compl. at ¶¶ 4, 9). At this time, Corrections Officer Cedric Sutton ("Sutton") stopped and attacked Hewitt without provocation. (Id. at ¶¶ 9, 13). During the attack, Sutton struck Hewitt about the body and ultimately threw him to the ground. (Id. at ¶ 9). Hewitt's head hit the ground, causing a fractured skull, cerebral hemorrhage, and other injuries. (Id).

Defendant Jaime Luquis ("Luquis" or "Defendant") is an adult individual who operated, ran, and controlled the Allentown Community Corrections Center as the Director of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, Community Corrections Center, at the time of Sutton's attack. (Id. at ¶¶ 3, 5). In Count I of Hewitt's complaint, he alleges that Luquis maintained a "custom, policy, and practice" which caused violations of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Id. at ¶ 14). His Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment claims are based on allegations of excessive force and false arrest. (Id. at ¶ 10). Hewitt contends that he has suffered not only severe and permanent physical injuries but also emotional injuries. (Id. at ¶ 15).

Luquis filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, and Hewitt filed a response. (Doc. No. 6; Doc. No. 9). For the reasons set forth, I will grant Defendant's motion.

II. Standard

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure examines the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). The factual allegations must be sufficient to make the claim for relief more than just speculative. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). In determining whether to grant a motion to dismiss, a federal court must construe the complaint liberally, accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Id.; see also D.P. Enters. v. Bucks Cnty. Cmty. Coll., 725 F.2d 943, 944 (3d Cir. 1984).

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not require a plaintiff to plead in detail all of the facts upon which he bases his claim. Conley, 355 U.S. at 47. Rather, the Rules require a "short and plain statement@ of the claim that will give the defendant fair notice of the plaintiff=s claim and the grounds upon which it rests. Id. The Acomplaint must allege facts suggestive of [the proscribed] conduct." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 564. Neither "bald assertions" nor "vague and conclusory allegations" are accepted as true. See Morse

v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997); Sterling v. Se. Pa. Transp. Auth., 897 F. Supp. 893 (E.D. Pa. 1995). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009)). The claim must contain enough factual matters to suggest the required elements of the claim or to "raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of" those elements. Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

In Fowler, 578 F.3d at 210, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit provided a two-part test to determine whether a claim survives a motion to dismiss. AFirst, the factual and legal elements of a claim should be separated. The District Court must accept all of the complaint=s well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions.@ Id. at 210-11 (quoting Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949). ASecond, a District Court must then determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a >plausible claim for relief.=@ Id. (quoting Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950). The plaintiff must show Athe allegations of his or her complaints are plausible.@ Fowler, 578 F.3d at 211 (quoting Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234-35). AWhere the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has allegedBbut it has not >show[n]=B>that the pleader is entitled to relief.=@ Id. (quoting Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949). This A>plausibility= determination will be >a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.=@ Fowler, 578 F.3d at 211 (quoting Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949).

III. Discussion

The allegations set forth in Hewitt's complaint are insufficient to show that he has a plausible claim for relief under § 1983.*fn1 Under § 1983:

Every 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, shall be liable ...


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