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Pardini v. Allegheny County

United States District Court, Third Circuit

May 16, 2013

JOHN PARDINI, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLEGHENY COUNTY; RAMON C. RUSTIN; OFFICER DAGBROWSKI; OFFICER KIRAKOWSKI; JOHN DOE, Defendants. ECF No. 8.

OPINION

MAUREEN P. KELLY, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff John Pardini ("Plaintiff") filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 asserting the violation of his Fourteenth Amendment rights in the course of his admission into the Allegheny County Jail. Plaintiff's claims arise out of the alleged unlawful use of excessive force, resulting in a fractured elbow, and the subsequent denial of medical treatment for the injury.

Defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure contending that Plaintiff has failed to allege sufficient facts against any Defendant to state a cognizable cause of action for deliberate indifference with regard to the provision of medical treatment. Defendants also seek dismissal of claims asserted against Ramon C. Rustin, who served as Warden of Allegheny County Jail at the time Plaintiff's claims arose, contending that the Complaint fails to allege sufficient facts to establish Defendant Rustin's personal involvement in the alleged violation of Plaintiff's rights so as to sustain a claim against him. Finally, Defendants seek the dismissal of claims asserted against Allegheny County on the grounds that the Complaint fails to plead the factual predicate necessary for a claim of municipal liability for his injuries. Defendants do not seek dismissal of the excessive force claims alleged against Defendants Dagbrowski and Kirakowski.

For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 8] is granted in part and denied in part.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges that during the course of his admission to the Allegheny County Jail on September 4, 2010, Defendants Dagbrowski and Kirakowski slammed his head into a door jam and wrenched his arm behind his back until it "popped." The Complaint alleges that Plaintiff was then left in a cell "for hours" during which time his arm swelled, cutting off circulation to his hand. Although he repeatedly requested medical assistance for his fractured arm, it was not until "several hours" had passed before the arrival of an individual who identified himself as a medical professional. Plaintiff alleges that this "John Doe" defendant looked at Plaintiff's arm through a cell door and proclaimed that "it looked fine." Plaintiff was released from the Allegheny County Jail the following morning and immediately went to a hospital, where he was admitted because of the degree of swelling. It was determined that Plaintiff had sustained a fracture of his elbow.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a party to seek the dismissal of a complaint or portion of a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In order to avoid dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6), a pleading party's complaint must provide "enough factual matter" to allow the case to move beyond the pleading stage of litigation; the pleader must "nudge [his or her] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.'" Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny , 515 F.3d 224, 234-35 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atlantic Co. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 556, 570(2007)). The United States Supreme Court has recognized that "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds' of his entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atlantic Co. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555.

In 2009, the United States Supreme Court revisited the requirements for surviving a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss in Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662 (2009). In Iqbal, the Supreme Court made clear that "threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements [are] not suffic[ient]" to defeat a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss." Id. at 678. Only "a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief [will] survive[ ] a motion to dismiss." Id. at 679.

In Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside , 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009), 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. "First, 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. Second, 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.' The plaintiff must show the allegations of his or her complaints are plausible. Where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not show[n]' - that the pleader is entitled to relief.' [This] plausibility' determination will be a context - specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.'" Id . (quoting Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 679. If a court determines that a complaint is vulnerable to 12(b)(6) dismissal, the court must permit a curative amendment, irrespective of whether Plaintiff seeks leave to amend, unless such amendment would be inequitable or futile. Phillips , 515 F.3d at 236.

III. DISCUSSION

Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 provides in relevant part:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory... 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 to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress....

Thus, to state a claim for relief under Section 1983, a plaintiff must allege, first, the violation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States and, second, that the alleged deprivation was committed or caused by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins , 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Piecknick v. Pennsylvania , 36 F.3d ...


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