United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
SYLVIA H. RAMBO, District Judge.
In this Section 1983 civil rights action, Plaintiff, who is currently confined at the State Correctional Institution at Houtzdale and is proceeding in forma pauperis, has sued four law enforcement officers asserting violations of his rights protected by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Presently before the court is a motion filed by three of the four defendants, which seeks dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and (6). (Docs. 29 & 40.) The fourth defendant, who was added to this action in Plaintiff's amended complaint, has not yet been served. Because the court finds that the favorable termination requirement of Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), bars Plaintiff's claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, it will grant the motion to dismiss filed by the three original defendants and will further dismiss the complaint as to the fourth defendant, as required by 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and 1915A(b).
"As a general matter, a district court ruling on a motion to dismiss may not consider matters extraneous to the pleadings." In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997). Thus, for the purposes of the motion sub judice, the court only considers the allegations contained in the amended complaint and exhibits submitted in support thereof (Docs. 1 & 38) and will accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations contained therein. See Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, Inc. v. Mirage Resorts, Inc., 140 F.3d 478, 483 (3d Cir. 1998). It is important to note that Plaintiff's amended complaint was filed with a complete disregard for the Middle District of Pennsylvania Local Rules and orders of this court, inasmuch as the amended complaint references the original complaint and is thus not complete in and of itself. ( See Doc. 39; see also, e.g., Doc. 33 (incorporating dictates of Local Rule 15.1 and indicating that an amended complaint must be complete in and of itself).) Due to Plaintiff's pro se status, the court will turn to the properly pleaded portions of Plaintiff's amended complaint despite the document's failure to conform to the Local Rules of Court and unambiguous instructions set forth in prior orders.
Plaintiff, a state inmate acting pro se, asserted constitutional claims related to the legal processes which led to his sentence of 60 to 120 months of incarceration following his convictions on May 29, 2012,  in the Fulton County Court of Common Pleas for robbery of a motor vehicle and theft by unlawful taking, arising from his actions on June 30, 2011. ( See Doc. 39, ¶ 11.) Plaintiff presumably alleges that his identification, arrest, prosecution, conviction, and resulting detention were not based upon probable cause and were in violation of his constitutional rights. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that, on July 1, 2011, David J. Rush ("Defendant Rush"), presumably a state police officer stationed at the McConnellsburg Pennsylvania State Police Barracks ("McConnellsburg Barracks"), initiated an investigation into the robbery of a motor vehicle, following a report from Eric Light, a manager of the Chambersberg Enterprise Rental Car Company ("Enterprise"), that a firearm had been discovered in a car that had been rented by Ashley Ramp ("Ramp"). ( Id. at ¶¶ 11, 16-17.) Upon interviewing Ramp, who was present at Enterprise at the time of Defendant Rush's arrival, Defendant Rush learned that two males, identified at that time only as "B" and "Tone" had robbed her the previous evening. ( Id. at ¶ 18.) Defendant Rush relayed certain information to Michael J. Davis ("Defendant Davis"), a state police officer also stationed at the McConnellsburg Barracks, who, at the direction of David Cain ("Defendant Cain"),  filed charges against Plaintiff and a Marc Steven Dorce, a co-defendant in the underlying state criminal action, on July 2, 2011. ( Id. at ¶ 11.) Plaintiff takes exception to the method in which Defendant Davis identified him as "B, " namely that Defendant Davis received information from Charles E. Gleichman ("Defendant Gleichman"), a supervising corporal stationed at the McConnellsburg Barracks, that "B" was Plaintiff ( see Doc. 39, ¶ 21; Doc. 39-1, p. 2 of 8 ("Cpl. GLEICHMAN was able to identify B' as [Plaintiff], also known as "Benny.")), despite Ramp's preliminary hearing testimony that she did not know the identity of "B" at the time she was interviewed by Rush ( see Doc. 39, ¶ 22; see also Doc. 39-1, p. 5 of 8). According to Plaintiff, because the magisterial district judge was not informed of the "true origin of the investigation and undisclosed information, " he could not make a "competent' determination if [sic] probable cause existed." (Doc. 39, ¶ 36.) Indeed, Plaintiff apparently takes exception with the defendants' collaborative effort which ultimately led to a warrant being issued for his arrest.
Plaintiff further names Defendant Gleichman as a defendant in this action due to Defendant Gleichman's "encourag[ing] and condon[ing]... the unlawful implication of Plaintiff in the crime alleged" ( id. at ¶ 39), which he avers was in a "reckless disregard for the truth" ( id. at ¶ 43), and done despite "an unreasonable risk... [that Plaintiff would be] unlawful[ly] seiz[ed]" ( id. at ¶ 41). Moreover, Plaintiff argues that the "show-up" procedure, through which Ramp identified Plaintiff, was unnecessarily suggestive ( see id. at ¶¶ 45-46), and was conducted without the presence of Plaintiff's counsel ( see id. at ¶¶ 44-46). As relief for these alleged constitutional violations, Plaintiff seeks declaratory relief and both compensatory and punitive damages. ( Id. at ¶¶ 64-68.)
B. Procedural History
Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a complaint on July 8, 2013. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff asserted his claims against Defendant Davis, Gleichman, and Cain in both their official and individual capacities. ( Id. at ¶ 7; Doc. 39, ¶ 5.) The court granted Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and directed that a summons be prepared and issued on October 23, 2013. ( See Docs. 16 & 17.) Defendants Davis, Gleichman, and Cain timely waived service. (Doc. 26.) On November 27, 2013, Plaintiff filed a request for entry of default (Doc. 24), which the court denied as premature on December 2, 2013 (Doc. 25).
On December 13, 2013, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend his complaint, which was noncompliant with Middle District of Pennsylvania Local Rule 15.1, inasmuch as it contained only two vague paragraphs and failed to contain a proposed amended complaint. ( See Doc. 27.) Despite Plaintiff's noncompliance and because such a motion was unnecessary due to the operation of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(1)(B), the court deemed Plaintiff's motion moot and advised Plaintiff that he may file his amended complaint as a matter of course no later than 21 days after service of Defendants Davis, Gleichman, and Cain's responsive pleading or motion filed under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f), whichever was earlier. (Doc. 28.) On January 6, 2014, Defendant Davis, Cain, and Gleichman filed a joint motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted (Doc. 29), followed by a brief in support thereof on January 15, 2014 (Doc. 32). In response to a request from Plaintiff filed on January 8, 2014 (Doc. 30), the court clarified its previous order regarding Plaintiff's options, instructing that he could either file an amended complaint that was complete in all respects or file a response to the pending motion to dismiss ( see Docs. 31 & 33).
On January 28, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion to stay the proceedings. (Doc. 35.) The court denied the stay but granted Plaintiff an extension of time until February 14, 2014, in which he was to comply with the previous orders. (Doc. 36.) Significantly, and in light of similar conduct in several other cases that Plaintiff had initiated, see Kearney v. Hibner, Civ. No. 1:13-cv-1892 (M.D. Pa.); Kearney v. Wadsworth, Civ. No. 1:13-cv-1850 (M.D. Pa.); Kearney v. Sheffield, Civ. No. 1:13-cv-1851 (M.D. Pa.), the court also set forth the consequences of not filing an opposing brief to a pending motion to dismiss. ( Id. ) On February 14, 2014, Plaintiff filed another motion for an extension of time (Doc. 37), which the court again granted, extending the deadline to February 28, 2014 (Doc. 38). Significantly, and again in light of similar conduct in several other cases that Plaintiff had initiated, see Kearney v. Hibner, Civ. No. 1:13-cv-1892 (M.D. Pa.); Kearney v. Wadsworth, Civ. No. 1:13-cv-1850 (M.D. Pa.); Kearney v. Sheffield, Civ. No. 1:13-cv-1851 (M.D. Pa.), the court advised Plaintiff that no further extensions of time would be granted. ( Id. )
On March 5, 2014, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint, which was noncompliant with the Local Rules and court orders, inasmuch as it was not complete in and of itself, but rather only referenced the original complaint. (Doc. 39.) The amended complaint also added Defendant Rush as a party to the action. ( See id. ) Defendant Rush has not yet been served. On March 7, 2014, Defendants Davis, Gleichman, and Cain filed a renewed motion to dismiss, indicating that they elected to rely upon the grounds set forth in their January 15, 2014 brief in support of their original motion. (Doc. 40.) On March 21, 2014, Plaintiff filed yet another motion seeking an extension of time (Doc. 41), which the court denied by order dated March 24, 2014 (Doc. 42). Based on the record, this matter has been adequately briefed and is appropriate for disposition.
II. Legal Standards
A. Pro Se ...