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Heath v. Overmyer

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

September 3, 2014

JORDAN MARCEL ROMEO HEATH, Plaintiff.
v.
DEPUTY OVERMYER, et al., Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER[1]

SUSAN PARADISE BAXTER, Magistrate Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Relevant Procedural History

Plaintiff Jordan Marcel Romeo Heath, a prisoner formerly incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Forest in Marienville, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Forest")[2], filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, on September 9, 2013, against Defendants Deputy Overmyer at SCI-Forest ("Overmyer") and Forest County District Attorney Elizabeth Ziegler ("Ziegler").

In his pro se complaint, Plaintiff alleges that on June 22, 2011, while incarcerated at SCI-Forest, he was spit on by another inmate in the Restricted Housing Unit (ECF No. 10, Complaint, at Section IV.C). Following the assault, Plaintiff filed criminal charges against the other inmate, which were subsequently dismissed by Defendant Ziegler (Id.). As a result of the dismissal, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Ziegler violated several of Plaintiff's constitutional rights. In addition, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Overmyer conspired with Defendant Ziegler to have the charges dismissed. As relief for his claims, Plaintiff seeks to recover monetary damages.

On February 27, 2014, Defendant Ziegler filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiffs complaint [ECF No. 35], asserting, inter alia, that Plaintiff's claims against her are barred by the doctrine of absolute prosecutorial immunity. Defendant Overmyer filed her own motion to dismiss on February 28, 2014 [ECF No. 38], arguing that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim against her upon which relief may be granted. Despite having been given ample time to respond to Defendants' motions, Plaintiff has failed to do so. This matter is now ripe for consideration.

B. Standards of Review

1. Motion to Dismiss

A motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) must be viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and all the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint must be accepted as true. Erickson v. Pardus , 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007). A complaint must be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12 (b)(6) if it does not allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)(rejecting the traditional 12 (b)(6) standard set forth in Conley v. Gibson , 355 U.S. 41 (1957)). See also Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662 (2009) (specifically applying Twombly analysis beyond the context of the Sherman Act).

The Court need not accept inferences drawn by plaintiff if they are unsupported by the facts as set forth in the complaint. See California Pub. Employee Ret. Sys. v. The Chubb Corp. , 394 F.3d 126, 143 (3d Cir. 2004) citing Morse v. Lower Merion School Dist. , 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). Nor must the court accept legal conclusions set forth as factual allegations. Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555, citing Papasan v. Allain , 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555. Although the United States Supreme Court does "not require heightened fact pleading of specifics, [the Court does require] enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570.

In other words, at the motion to dismiss stage, a plaintiff is "required to make a showing' rather than a blanket assertion of an entitlement to relief." Smith v. Sullivan , 2008 WL 482469, at *1 (D.Del. February 19, 2008) quoting Phillips v. County of Allegheny , 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008). "This does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage, ' but instead simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element." Phillips , 515 F.3d at 234, quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 556.The Third Circuit Court has prescribed the following three-step approach to determine the sufficiency of a complaint under Twombly and Iqbal:

First, the court must tak[e] 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'

Burtch v. Milberg Factors, Inc. , 662 F.3d 212, 221 (3d Cir. 2011), citing Santiago v. Warminster Twp. , 629 F.3d 121, 130 (3d Cir. 2010) (quoting Ibbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1947, 1950); see also Great Western Mining & Min. ...


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