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Marks v. Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

October 15, 2014

JOHNNY EVANS MARKS, as administrator of the estate of TROY EVANS MARKS, deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
PHILADELPHIA INDUSTRIAL CORRECTIONAL CENTER, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM

ROBERT F. KELLY, Senior District Judge.

Presently pending before the Court is Defendant Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center's ("PICC") Partial Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for Failure to State a Claim. Plaintiff, Johnny Evans Marks ("Marks"), as administrator of the estate of Troy Evans Marks ("Decedent"), filed a Response in opposition. For the reasons set forth below, PICC's Partial Motion is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Count I - Constitutional Violations - alleges that PICC wrongfully violated Decedent's "right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment and/or violated his due process rights under the Pennsylvania Constitution and under the Federal Constitution including the 8th Amendment and the 14th Amendment."[1] Compl. ¶ 11. The Complaint alleges that the Decedent was found deceased in his cell on or about October 26, 2011, and he "slowly bled to death over an extended period of time (at least several hours)." Id . ¶¶ 3, 5. The Complaint contends that the Decedent suffered from several medical ailments known to PICC and that he did not receive the appropriate care, custody, and control by PICC which could have prevented his death. Id . ¶¶ 6-8. It is further alleged that "the guards assigned to watch Troy Marks (in his general population cell) were inattentive to the fact that he was bleeding to death slowly over time and/or ignored calls for help by inmates." Id . ¶ 9. In addition to the constitutional claim, the Complaint alleges the following Pennsylvania State Court tort claims: Count II - Negligence; Count III - Emotional Distress; Count IV - Wrongful Death; and Count V - Survival.[2] Id . ¶¶ 14-23.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint. Kost v. Kozakiewicz , 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993). Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the defendant bears the burden of demonstrating that the plaintiff has failed to set forth a claim from which relief may be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); see also Lucas v. City of Phila., No. 11-4376 , 2012 WL 1555430, at *2 (E.D. Pa. May 2, 2012) (citing Hedges v. United States , 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005)). In evaluating a motion to dismiss, the court must view any reasonable inferences from the factual allegations in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Buck v. Hamilton Twp. Sch. Dist. , 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir. 2002).

The Supreme Court set forth in Twombly, and further defined in Iqbal, a two-part test to determine whether to grant or deny a motion to dismiss. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ("Third Circuit") has noted that these cases signify the progression from liberal pleading requirements to more "exacting scrutiny" of the complaint. Wilson v. City of Phila. , 415 F.Appx. 434, 436 (3d Cir. 2011).

Initially, the court must ascertain whether the complaint is supported by well-pleaded factual allegations. Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 679. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555. Conclusions of law can serve as the foundation of a complaint, but to survive dismissal they must be supported by factual allegations. Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 679. These factual allegations must be explicated sufficiently to provide a defendant the type of notice that is contemplated by Rule 8. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) (requiring a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief); see also Phillips v. County of Allegheny , 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008). Where there are well-pleaded facts, courts must assume their truthfulness. Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 679.

Upon a finding of a well-pleaded complaint, the court must then determine whether these allegations "plausibly" give rise to an entitlement to relief. Id. at 679. This is a "context specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id . Plausibility compels the pleadings to contain enough factual content to allow a court to make "a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id . (citing Twombly , 550 U.S. 544 at 570). This is not a probability requirement; rather plausibility necessitates "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678. "Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility.'" Id . (quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 557). In other words, a complaint must not only allege entitlement to relief, but must demonstrate such entitlement with sufficient facts to nudge the claim "across the line from conceivable to plausible." Id. at 683; see also Holmes v. Gates , 403 F.Appx. 670, 673 (3d Cir. 2010).

III. DISCUSSION

A. Claims Against PICC

As an initial matter, all claims against PICC will be dismissed. Pursuant to 53 Pa. C.S.A. § 16257, "[i]ndividual departments of the City of Philadelphia cannot be sued separately; instead the suit must be brought against the City of Philadelphia itself."[3] Russell v. City of Phila. , 2010 WL 2011593, at *2 (E.D. Pa. May 19, 2010), aff'd, 428 F.Appx. 174 , 177 (3rd Cir. Apr 14, 2011). "Any claims brought against a department of the City of Philadelphia, therefore, must be dismissed as a matter of law." Id . (citing Regalbuto v. City of Phila. , 937 F.Supp. 374, 377 (E.D. Pa. 1995)). "The Philadelphia Prison System is a department of the City of Philadelphia, and operates the PICC." Id . Since no suits can be maintained against PICC, dismissal of PICC is appropriate. See id., see also Washington v. City of Phila., No. 95-4737, 1996 WL 220984, at *2 (Apr. 30, 1996) ("Whereas the PICC is a department of the City of Philadelphia and does not have a separate legal identity, all suits against the PICC must be brought in the name of the City.") Marks has named PICC as the sole Defendant. Since PICC is not a proper party defendant, this Court shall substitute the City of Philadelphia ("the City") in its place.[4] See Washington, 1996 WL 220984, at *2. Also, the caption of this case shall reflect that the City is the sole Defendant in this matter.

B. State Law Tort Claims

The City seeks dismissal of all of Marks' state law tort claims on the grounds that these claims are barred by the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act, 42 Pa. C.S.A. §§ 8541 et seq. ("PSTCA"). (Def.'s Mem. Law Support Partial Mot. to Dismiss at 6-8.) Specifically, the City seeks dismissal of Count II - Negligence; ...


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