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Kintzel v. Kleeman

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

August 19, 2013

FAITH KINTZEL and BRIAN KINTZEL, Plaintiffs
v.
STEPHEN KLEEMAN, Pennsylvania State Police Trooper, Defendant

Page 602

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 603

For Faith Kintzel, Brian Kintzel, Plaintiffs: J. Michael Considine, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, West Chester, PA.

For Stephen Kleeman, PENNSYLVANIA STATE TROOPER, Stephen Kleeman, Defendants: Frederick J. Fanelli, Fanelli Evans & Patel, P.C., The Necho Allen, Pottsville, PA.

OPINION

Page 604

MEMORANDUM

JAMES M. MUNLEY, United States District Judge.

Before the court for disposition is Defendant Pennsylvania State Trooper Stephen Kleeman's motion to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint of sexual assault and battery in its entirety pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.

Background

On April 7, 2010, Defendant Stephen Kleeman, a Pennsylvania Sate Trooper, (hereinafter " defendant" ) charged Plaintiff Faith Kintzel (hereinafter " plaintiff" ) with summary harassment. (Doc. 1, Compl. ¶ 1). A hearing was held on June 2, 2010 at which both plaintiff and defendant appeared. (Id. ¶ 9). They agreed to a deal where the charges would be dismissed if plaintiff complied with certain conditions for sixty (60) days. (Id.)

After the hearing, the defendant asked plaintiff if she wanted to have coffee with him sometime. (Id. ¶ 12). She indicated that she did not. (Id.) Defendant then asked plaintiff to accompany him to a cemetery where they could talk privately. (Id.) She agreed fearing that the deal she worked out on the dismissal of the criminal charge would fall through if she refused. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that upon meeting at the cemetery, defendant had sexual contact/intercourse with her against her will. (Id. ¶ ¶ 13, 27). Plaintiff then filed the instant case, which asserts state law claims and civil rights claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

The complaint asserts the following six counts: Count I-False Arrest; Count II-False Imprisonment; Count III-Excessive Use of Force; Count IV-Violation of Substantive Due Process Right to Bodily Integrity; Count V-Sexual Assault and Battery; and Count VI-Loss of Consortium on behalf of Plaintiff Stephen Kleeman. Defendant has filed a motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, bringing the case to its present posture.

Jurisdiction

Plaintiff sues under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for a violation of her civil rights.

Accordingly, we have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (" The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." ). We have supplemental jurisdiction over the plaintiff's state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

Legal Standard

Defendant filed his motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). When deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, all well pleaded allegations of the complaint must be viewed as true and in the light

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most favorable to the non-movant to determine whether, " under any reasonable reading of the pleadings, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Colburn v. Upper Darby Twp., 838 F.2d 663, 665-66 (3d Cir. 1988) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The plaintiff must describe " 'enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' [each] necessary element" of the claims alleged in the complaint. Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). The court does not have to accept legal conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences. See Curay-Cramer v. Ursuline Acad. of Wilmington, Del., Inc., 450 F.3d 130, 133 (3d Cir. 2006). The " complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Such " facial plausibility" exists " 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. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

Discussion

Defendant's motion to dismiss raises six issues. The first two issues involve immunity. Defendant claims that he is shielded by Eleventh Amendment immunity with regard to both the federal and state causes of action. He also argues that sovereign immunity protects him from plaintiff's state law claims. The remainder of the issues in defendant's motion address the substance plaintiff's claims. We will address these issues in seriatim.

I. Eleventh Amendment Immunity

As noted above, federal jurisdiction is premised on the fact that several of plaintiff's counts are civil rights claims brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. To establish a claim under section 1983, two criteria must be met. First, the conduct complained of must have been committed by a person acting under of color of state law. Second, the conduct must have deprived the complainant of rights secured under the Constitution or federal law. Sameric Corp. of Del., Inc. v. City of Phila., 142 F.3d 582, 590 (3d Cir. 1998). Section 1983 does not, by its own terms, create substantive rights. Rather, it provides only remedies for deprivations of rights established elsewhere in the Constitution or federal laws. Kneipp by Cusack v. Tedder, 95 F.3d 1199, 1204 (3d Cir. 1996).

In the instant case, the alleged state actor is the defendant state trooper. Plaintiff alleges various causes of action based upon the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Defendant argues that he cannot be held liable because he is protected ...


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