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Brown v. City of Pittsburgh

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

January 13, 2015

DEANDRE BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF PITTSBURGH, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

CATHY BISSOON, District Judge.

Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 7) will be denied in all respects, save its challenge to Plaintiff's municipal liability claims.

Defendants' arguments regarding probable cause and qualified immunity do not attack the sufficiency of Plaintiff's pleadings, but, rather, address the ultimate merits of his claims. Plaintiff has stated plausible grounds for relief, and Defendants' arguments are better suited for summary judgment, after the factual record has been developed. Although Plaintiff's claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress presents a closer case, the Court likewise believes that his allegations are sufficient at this stage, and Defendants may revisit their challenge on summary judgment.

As to Plaintiff's claims of municipal liability (and against the Defendant-Officers in their official capacities), however, Defendants' Motion is well taken. Plaintiff seeks to invoke the "ratification" theory, under which "[a]n employee who lacks policymaking authority can... bind the municipality if a municipal policymaker... ratified his decision." Kelly v. Borough of Carlisle, 622 F.3d 248, 264 (3d Cir. 2010) (citation omitted). Ratification occurs only when a subordinate's decision is subject to review by authorized policymakers because they have retained the authority to measure the official's conduct for conformance with their policies; "[s]imply going along with discretionary decisions made by one's subordinates, " however, is not a qualifying delegation. Id. (citation to quoted source omitted).

Here, the Complaint alleges only that unidentified supervisors, named as John and/or Jane Doe defendants, "reviewed the decision" of the Defendant-Officers to file charges against Plaintiff, "thereby ratifying that decision." See Compl. at ΒΆΒΆ 9, 17. These allegations are insufficient, both under the general standards applicable in Iqbal/Twombly, and under the specific standards regarding ratification in Kelly.

Accordingly, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 7) is GRANTED regarding municipal liability, [1] and it is DENIED in all other respects.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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