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Donte Milburn v. City of York

October 22, 2012

DONTE MILBURN,
PLAINTIFF
v.
CITY OF YORK, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas M. Blewitt United States Magistrate Judge

(Judge Jones)

(Magistrate Judge Blewitt)

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

I. BACKGROUND.

On January 23, 2012, pro se Plaintiff Donte Milburn, an inmate at SCI-Somerset, filed this instant civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1.). On this same date, he also filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 2). On January 30, 2012, he filed a second Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 6). On January 31, 2012, we granted Plaintiff's Motions for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis. We also directed the Clerk of Court to issue process to the U.S. Marshal for service of Plaintiff's Complaint on Defendants. (Doc. 9). Defendants, City of York, Michael Hose, Richard Peddicord, and Jeffrey Spence, were then served with Plaintiff's Complaint.

In response to Plaintiff's Complaint, on April 2, 2012, Defendants jointly filed a Motion to Dismiss, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). (Doc. 20). On June 11, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Default Judgment. (Doc. 35). Both motions were briefed by the parties.

On July 24, 2012, we issued a Report and Recommendation ("R&R") and recommended that the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 20) be denied. We also recommended that Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment(Doc. 35) be denied. We further recommended that this case be remanded to the undersigned for further proceedings, including directing Defendants to file their Answer to Plaintiff's Complaint. (Doc. 40). On August 21, 2012, the Court adopted our Report and Recommendation in its entirety. (Doc. 47).

On September 7, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Appointment of Counsel. (Doc. 49). On September 10, 2012, Defendants jointly filed an Answer to Plaintiff's Complaint with Affirmative Defenses. (Doc. 50). On September 11, 2012, we issued an Order and denied Plaintiff's Motion for Appointment of Counsel. (Doc. 52). On September 12, 2012, we issued a Scheduling Order and set the discovery deadline as November 13, 2012, and the dispostive motions deadline as January 14, 2013. (Doc. 53).

On September 18, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Motion for leave of Court to file an Amended Complaint and to have the Amended Complaint relate back to the date of the original Complaint. (Doc. 55). Plaintiff attached his proposed Amended Complaint with its Exhibits to his motion and he filed a support brief. (Docs. 55-1, 55-2 & 56). On October 2, 2012, Defendants filed their opposition brief to Plaintiff's motion. (Doc. 59). Plaintiff's motion is now ripe for disposition.

II. ALLEGATIONS OF COMPLAINT.

In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that on or about August 28, 2006, at some time between 11:00 p.m. and 12:01 a.m., Juan Laboy died from gunshot wounds to his chest, and Defendants City of York police officers arrested Plaintiff in connection with Juan Laboy's death. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff claims that his Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated because Defendants' racial bias caused an intentional and malicious incomplete investigation resulting in falsified, uncorroborated and incomplete evidence and testimony against Plaintiff that ultimately led to his arrest. (Doc. 1, pp. 5-8).

The specific charges filed against Plaintiff included Criminal Homicide in the First and Second Degree under 18 Pa. C.S. § 2501(A) and (B), Robbery - Inflicting Serious Bodily Injury under 18 Pa. C.S. §3701(A)(1)(I), and 2 counts of Criminal Conspiracy under 18 Pa. C.S. § 903

(A)(1) for each other charge. (Doc. 1, p. 8). On January 11, 2010, Plaintiff was brought in front of a jury on these charges; however, the York County District Attorney halted the trial, and York County Court of Common Pleas Judge Kennedy dismissed the charges against Plaintiff due to the inadequate evidence presented. (Doc. 1, p. 9). Plaintiff claims that as a result of Defendants' action, he suffered discomfort, damage to his health, loss of time and deprivation of society due to the time he spent in prison, stress, worry, lack of sleep, loss of enjoyment of life, humiliation, harassment, and ridicule.

The specific Counts Plaintiff alleges in his Complaint against Defendants Hose, Peddicord, and Spence include Malicious Prosecution, and in the alternative, Malicious Abuse of Process. The specific Counts Plaintiff alleges against Defendant City of York include Failure to Train and Supervise and, Deliberate Indifference in Policy and Customs. Plaintiff alleges Malicious Prosecution on the part of Defendants Hose, Peddicord and Spence because they knew or should have known that they lacked probable cause to arrest Plaintiff and because they acted with malicious intent based on racial bias in prosecuting Plaintiff, both of which resulted in Plaintiff being incarcerated and, thus deprived Plaintiff of his liberty. Therefore, Plaintiff is alleging violations of his Fourth Amendment rights because he was arrested without probable cause, and violations of his Fourteenth Amendment rights to liberty and equal protection of the law because he was incarcerated on Defendants' arrest based on racial discrimination and an arrest lacking probable cause. (Doc. 1, pp. 11-12). In addition to Malicious Prosecution, Plaintiff raises a claim of Malicious Abuse of Process, alleging that even if probable cause existed to initiate his arrest, Defendants Hose, Peddicord and Spence acted maliciously with racial bias by continuing the investigation and/ or prosecution even after they discovered the witnesses lacked credibility and provided false statements to the officers. (Doc. 1, p. 12). Therefore, Plaintiff, with respect to his malicious prosecution claim, is alleging his Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection of the law was violated because Defendants continued the prosecution of him even after discovering the witnesses lacked credibility and provided false statements.

Plaintiff also raises, under Monell v. Dept. of Soc. Servs., NYC, 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978), a claim of Failure to Train and Supervise on the part of Defendant City of York, alleging that the City of York acted with deliberate indifference in failing to properly train and supervise its officer to prevent the "practice of substituting racial, economic or cultural bias for evidence as grounds for suspicion." (Doc. 1, p. 14). Plaintiff claims that Defendant City of York's deliberate indifference to properly training and supervising its officers was a direct and proximate cause of Plaintiff's injuries and violations of his constitutional rights. (Id.).

Lastly, also under Count II, Plaintiff alleges, under Monell, that Defendant City of York had a policy, practice and/ or custom based on race that ultimately led to violations of Plaintiff's Fourth, Fifth ...


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