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Micaletti v. Popovich

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

January 30, 2014

ANTHONY MICALETTI, Plaintiff,
v.
JENNIFER POPOVICH, in her capacity as an Assistant District Attorney for Beaver County; ROCCO S. DEMAILLO, in his capacity as a Pennsylvania State Trooper, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ARTHUR J. SCHWAB, District Judge.

This is a civil rights case. Presently before the Court are two Motions to Dismiss filed by each of the individual Defendants. Defendant Popovich filed her Motion and Brief in Support essentially claiming that the law does not permit either of Plaintiff's claims asserted against her to proceed against her. Doc. nos. 5-6, respectively. Defendant DeMaiolo[1] filed his Motion and Brief in Support claiming that the law does not permit either of Plaintiff's claims asserted against him to proceed. Doc. nos. 9-10, respectively.

Plaintiff timely filed a Response and a Brief in Opposition to Defendant Popovich's Motion to Dismiss (doc. nos. 8 and 11, respectively), and he also timely filed a Response and a Brief in Opposition to Defendant DeMaiolo's Motion to Dismiss (doc. nos. 12 and 16, respectively), thereby making these matters ripe for adjudication.

I. Standard of Review

Both Defendants filed their respective Motions to Dismiss predicated upon Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, Federal Courts require notice pleading, as opposed to the heightened standard of fact pleading. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds on which it rests.'" Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)).

Building upon the landmark United States Supreme Court decisions in Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit explained that a District Court must undertake the following three steps to determine the sufficiency of a complaint:

First, the court must take note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim. Second, the court should identify allegations that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Finally, where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement for relief.

Connelly v. Steel Valley Sch. Dist., 706 F.3d 209, 212 (3d Cir. 2013) (citation omitted).

The third step of the sequential evaluation requires this Court to consider the specific nature of the claims presented and to determine whether the facts pled to substantiate the claims are sufficient to show a "plausible claim for relief." Covington v. Int'l Ass'n of Approved Basketball Officials, 710 F.3d 114, 118 (3d Cir. 2013). "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a Complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 664.

This Court may not dismiss a Complaint merely because it appears unlikely or improbable that Plaintiff can prove the facts alleged or will ultimately prevail on the merits. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563 n.8. Instead, this Court must ask whether the facts alleged raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary elements. Id. at 556. Generally speaking, a Complaint that provides adequate facts to establish "how, when, and where" will survive a Motion to Dismiss. Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 212 (3d Cir. 2009).

In short, a Motion to Dismiss should not be granted if a party alleges facts, which could, if established at trial, entitle him/her to relief. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563 n.8.

II. Factual Background

As noted above, only Plaintiff's factual averments are to be taken as true solely for the purposes of deciding these two Motions to Dismiss. The relevant factual allegations are set forth herein and have been accepted as true by this Court for the purpose for ...


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