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Evans v. Renewal, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

September 4, 2014

JAMES EVANS, Plaintiff,

ARTHUR J. SCHWAB, District Judge.

On April 10, 2014, Plaintiff, James Evans, filed his Complaint alleging that Defendant, Renewal, Inc. ("Renewal"), and its employee, Defendant Anton Lamont Rumph ("Rumph"), violated his civil rights.[1] Presently before the Court is Defendant Renewal's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint and/or its Motion to Strike portions of Plaintiff's Complaint and its Brief in Support of same. Doc. no. 19. Plaintiff filed a Brief in Opposition to Defendant Renewal's Motion (doc. no. 22) and Defendant Renewal filed a Reply. Doc. no. 25. For the reasons that follow, this Court will grant Defendant Renewal's Motion to Dismiss.

I. Standard of Review

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. Background

The allegations set forth below are accepted as true solely for the purposes of deciding Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.

Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that Defendant Renewal is a "domestic, non-profit (non-stock) corporation[, ]" which "provides community residential correction and work release services for both male and female offenders referred by the Courts through the [Allegheny County Jail.]" Doc. no. 1, ¶¶ 3, 7. It operates two facilities located within Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Id . The Allegheny County Jail entered into a series of contracts with Defendant Renewal to provide alternate housing and community corrections services as a means to address overcrowding. Id., ¶ 8. Eligible inmates referred to Defendant Renewal "are nonviolent, low-risk offenders" and are referred to as "residents." Id., ¶ 8 and 11. Defendant Renewal provides the inmates or "residents" with "a controlled environment" and residents attend AA and NA meetings and "receive counseling, academic, employment, and life-skills training." Id . ¶ 11.

"Renewal employs skilled monitors and case managers to supervise residents 24 hours a day. Monitors are in [a] visible position of authority as they wear uniforms... as well as a badge which identifie[s] them as [m]onitors." Id., ¶ 12. Renewal residents are issued a guidebook which provides that residents must, in part, "treat ...

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