United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
DANIELLE (STILLWELL) NEWLON and TYLER NEWLON, her husband, Plaintiffs,
WILLIAM S. DAVIS, JR. and THE BOROUGH OF WHITAKER, Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION Re: ECF Nos. 10 and 13
MAUREEN P. KELLY, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiffs, Danielle (Stillwell) Newlon ("Plaintiff") and her husband, Tyler Newlon, have brought this civil rights action against William S. Davis, Jr. ("Davis") and the Borough of Whitaker ("the Borough") (collectively, "Defendants") raising claims stemming from a traffic stop involving Plaintiff on June 27, 2012.
Presently before the Court is the Borough's Partial Motion to Dismiss, Motion to Strike, and Motion for More Definite Statement Under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12 (B)(6), 12 (E), and 12(F), [ECF No. 10], and a Partial Motion to Dismiss, Motion to Strike and Motion for More Definite Statement Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), 12(e) and 12(f), [ECF No. 13], submitted by Defendant Davis. For the reasons that follow, it is respectfully recommended that both Motions to Dismiss be granted in part and denied in part.
A. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
According to the Complaint, Plaintiff was driving a white BMW with tinted windows in the Borough on June 27, 2012, when an unmarked police cruiser with flashing lights pulled behind her vehicle. [ECF No. 1 at ¶¶ 8, 10, 13, 27]. Plaintiff pulled her vehicle over to the side of the roadway and observed Davis, who was wearing shorts and a t-shirt with no visible identification, approaching. Plaintiff alleges that she did not believe Davis to be police officer and became fearful. [Id. at ¶¶ 14, 15]. Consequently, Plaintiff pulled her vehicle away from the traffic stop and drove down the roadway to a more public venue and called 911. [Id. at ¶ 16].
When Davis approached the vehicle the second time, he had his duty weapon drawn, was holding a Taser and shouting at Plaintiff to roll her window down. [Id. at ¶ 20]. Plaintiff inadvertently lowered the rear driver's side window at which time Davis took his duty weapon and proceeded to shatter the front driver's side window of the vehicle while Plaintiff was seated in the driver's seat. Davis then pointed his weapon at Plaintiff and shouted for her to open the door. [Id. at ¶¶ 21, 23]. After Plaintiff exited her vehicle, Davis forced Plaintiff to lay face down on the pavement with her hands stretched out in front of her and was subsequently handcuffed. [Id. at ¶¶ 24, 26]. Plaintiff was then taken to the Whitaker police station where Davis informed Plaintiff that he had been searching for a vehicle that matched the description of Plaintiff's vehicle and that she would be charged with fleeing and eluding a police officer. [Id. at ¶¶ 27, 29]. Plaintiff apparently told Davis that she could not afford to have a felony criminal charge brought against her because she was in the process of obtaining her real estate license. Davis then called the Borough Police Chief to discuss the incident and Plaintiff's concerns about her real estate license. Thereafter, Davis offered Plaintiff the option of being criminally charged or taking full responsibility for the incident including paying for the damage to her car window and to Davis' gun. [Id. at ¶¶ 30, 31]. Plaintiff agreed to accept responsibility rather than being charged. At Davis' direction, Plaintiff then wrote out a statement and was released from custody. [Id. at ¶ 32].
Plaintiff alleges that Davis subsequently "began to contact" her demanding restitution for the damaged firearm and that during these conversations Davis made intimidating comments including threatening to have Tyler Newlon arrested. [Id. at ¶¶ 35, 36]. Plaintiff consequently contacted the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office which ultimately brought charges against Davis for official oppression, making false statements to authorities, criminal mischief and attempted theft by extortion. [Id. at ¶ 37]. In the interim, Davis continued to harass Plaintiff regarding the repair of his gun through a series of texts and telephone messages which culminated on July 2, 2012, when Plaintiff informed Davis that she had contacted the District Attorney's Office and had been advised not to speak with Davis. [Id. at ¶ 38]. Davis subsequently filed the criminal charges against Plaintiff. The charges were eventually withdrawn. [Id. at ¶¶ 38, 59].
Plaintiffs filed the instant Complaint on August 22, 2013, bringing claims for Federal Civil Rights/Constitution Claims (Count I); Malicious Prosecution (Count II); Assault and Battery (Count III); Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (Count IV); Negligence (Count V); and Loss of Consortium (Count VI). [ECF No. 1]. On October, 28, 2013, the Borough filed a Partial Motion to Dismiss, Motion to Strike, and Motion for More Definite Statement Under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12 (B)(6), 12 (E), and 12(F), [ECF No. 10], and Davis filed a Partial Motion to Dismiss, Motion to Strike and Motion for More Definite Statement Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. (12(b)(6), 12(e) and 12(f). [ECF No. 13]. Plaintiffs responded to both Motions on November 27, 2013, [ECF Nos. 16, 17], and on December 10, 2013, Defendants filed their respective reply briefs. [ECF Nos. 19, 20]. As such, both Motions to Dismiss are ripe for review.
B. STANDARD OF REVIEW
1. Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)
In assessing the sufficiency of a complaint pursuant to a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court must accept as true all material allegations in the complaint and all reasonable factual inferences must be viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Odd v. Malone , 538 F.3d 202, 205 (3d Cir. 2008). The Court, however, need not accept bald assertions or inferences drawn by the plaintiff if they are unsupported by the facts set forth in the complaint. See California Pub. Employees' Ret. Sys. v. The Chubb Corp. , 394 F.3d 126, 143 (3d Cir. 2004), citing Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist. , 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). Nor must the Court accept legal conclusions set forth as factual allegations. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Rather, "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id., citing Papasan v. Allain , 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). Indeed, the United States Supreme Court has held that a complaint is properly dismissed under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) where it does not allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, " id. at 570, or where the factual content does not allow the court "to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). See Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny , 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d ...