United States District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania
DEBRA BLACK; EARL BLACK, ADMINISTRATORS OF THE ESTATE OF DEREK BLACK, Plaintiffs,
ALLEGHENY COUNTY; ALLEGHENY COUNTY CORRECTIONAL HEALTH SERVICES; MIGUEL SOLOMON; WILLIAM S. STICKMAN, III; DANA PHILLIPS; MICHAEL PATTERSON, M.D.; KIM WILSON, M.D.; CHRIS MARSH, R.N.; VALERIE SLEPSKY; MEDICAL STAFFJOHN AND JANE DOES 1-15; CORRECTIONAL STAFF JOHN AND JANE DOES 1-15 Defendants.
Cynthia Reed Eddy Magistrate Judge
MAGISTRATE JUDGE CYNTHIA REED EDDY REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Cynthia Reed Eddy United States Magistrate Judge
This is a civil rights action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution by Debra and Earl Black as administrators of the estate of Derek E. Black. Pending is a motion filed by Plaintiffs seeking to dismiss a counterclaim that was filed on behalf of Allegheny County and William Stickman, III (“County Defendants”). For the reasons set forth in the following Report, the Magistrate Judge respectfully recommends that this motion (ECF No. 151) be granted.
At the close of discovery, the Court allowed Plaintiffs to file a Second Amended Complaint, which they did on March 19, 2014. (ECF No. 140). On April 2, 2014, the County Defendants filed an Answer with Affirmative Defenses and a Counterclaim. (ECF No. 145). That same day, the County Defendants filed an amended document because the previous document was filed without a signature. (ECF No. 146). On April 17, 2014, Plaintiffs responded with a Motion to Dismiss the Counterclaim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and a brief in support thereof. (ECF Nos. 151, 152). The County Defendants filed a Response to Plaintiffs’ motion on May 2, 2014. (ECF No. 174). The Motion is now ripe to be decided.
“A motion to dismiss a counterclaim is properly evaluated under the familiar Rule 12(b)(6) standard.” New Skies Satellites, B.V. v. Home2US Communications., Inc., 2014 WL 1292218, *4 (D.N.J. 2014). Accordingly, if the counterclaim fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, it must be dismissed. Id.
In light of the Supreme Court's decision in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate if there are not “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Phillips v. Co. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “In other words, a complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief. A complaint has to ‘show’ such an entitlement with its facts.” Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-211 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234–35).”
In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court accepts all of the plaintiff's allegations as true and construes all inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Umland v. Planco Fin. Servs., 542 F.3d 59, 64 (3d Cir. 2008) (citing Buck v. Hampton Twp. Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir. 2006)). However, a court will not accept bald assertions, unwarranted inferences, or sweeping legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations. See In re Rockefeller Ctr. Props., Inc. Sec. Litig., 311 F.3d 198, 215 (3d Cir. 2002); Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 n. 8 (3d Cir. 1997). A court is not required to consider legal conclusions; rather, it should determine whether the plaintiff should be permitted to offer evidence in support of the allegations. Maio v. Aetna, 221 F.3d 472, 482 (3d Cir. 2000).
Therefore, a plaintiff must put forth sufficient facts that, when taken as true, suggest the required elements of a particular legal theory. See Wilkerson v. New Media Tech. Charter Sch., Inc., 522 F.3d 315 (3d Cir. 2008) (citing Phillips, 515 F.3d at 224). This standard does not impose a heightened burden on the claimant above that already required by Rule 8, but instead calls for fair notice of the factual basis of a claim while raising a “reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element.” Weaver v. UPMC, 2008 WL 2942139, *3 (W.D.Pa. 2008) (citing Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234; and Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
In response to Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Complaint, the County Defendants responded by filing a counterclaim pursuant to § 1988, which Plaintiffs seek to have dismissed. Section 1988 provides that “[i]n any action or proceeding to enforce provision of section . . . 1983 . . . of this title, . . . the court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party, other than the United States, a reasonable attorney’s fee as part of the costs . . .” 42 U.S.C. § 1988(b). At the outset, the Court notes that regardless of whether Plaintiffs’ motion is granted, Plaintiffs’ acknowledge that Defendants are entitled to seek attorneys’ fees pursuant to Rule 54(d) if they are ...