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Jones v. Barth

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

January 15, 2015

CARL JONES Plaintiff
OFFICER RICHARD BARTH, et al. Defendants.




Before this Court is a motion to dismiss filed by Defendants Officer Richard Barth ("Defendant Barth") and Chester Township ("Defendant Chester Township") (collectively "Defendants") pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (Rule) 12(b)(6), seeking to dismiss the federal claims for civil rights violations brought under 42 U.S.C. §1983 ("§1983"), and the state law claims of false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress asserted by Carl Jones ("Plaintiff") against them, [ECF 9], and Plaintiff's response in opposition. [ECF 13]. The issues have been fully briefed, and for the reasons stated herein, the motion to dismiss is granted.


Plaintiff filed a complaint on June 11, 2014, [ECF 1], and an amended complaint on July 22, 2014, [ECF 6], [1] in which he seeks monetary compensation, for the violation of his civil rights under §1983 and the false arrest, false imprisonment, [2] malicious prosecution, and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims brought under state law, from Defendants.[3] Each of these claims is premised upon Plaintiff's contention that Defendant Barth lacked probable cause to have a warrant issued for his arrest. On August 5, 2014, Defendants filed the instant motion to dismiss, which Plaintiff opposes.

When ruling on a motion to dismiss, this Court must accept, as true, all relevant factual allegations in the amended complaint. These allegations can be summarized as follows:

Sometime in May 2012, Plaintiff entered into a contract with Tammy Strand-Yarbray ("Strand-Yarbray") to repair her outdoor deck and resurface her driveway, (Amend. Comp. ¶ 9), for $2, 650.00, which included a $350.00 deposit. ( Id. at ¶ 10).[4]
Plaintiff began the repairs, but it became apparent to him that the deck had a completely rotten header board and was unrepairable. ( Id. at ¶ 11). Plaintiff told Strand-Yarbray that the deck needed to be completely replaced, and based on this information, Strand-Yarbray cancelled the contract. ( Id. at ¶ 12).
Strand-Yarbray requested the return of her deposit and Plaintiff advised her that he would refund the deposit minus $150.00 service charge, for the work performed. ( Id. at ¶ 13). Approximately 48 hours later, Plaintiff received a telephone call from Defendant Barth who accused Plaintiff of theft. ( Id. at ¶ 14). Plaintiff explained to Defendant Barth the terms of the contract cancellation and that he intended to give Strand-Yarbray her refund at the end of the day. ( Id. at ¶ 14). Plaintiff then went to Strand-Yarbray's house, gave her the refund, and obtained a receipt for it. ( Id. at ¶ 15).
The next day, Plaintiff received another phone call from Defendant Barth, during which Defendant Barth said, "Unless you give Tammy all her money back, I'm going to issue a warrant for your arrest." ( Id. at ¶ 16). Plaintiff told Defendant Barth that the contract issue had been resolved. ( Id. at ¶ 16).
On June 12, 2012, a warrant was issued for Plaintiff's arrest on three charges: theft by deception; theft by unlawful taking of movable property; and receiving stolen property. ( Id. at ¶ 17). Plaintiff was arraigned in August 2012, and held on $1, 000.00 unsecured bail on all charges. ( Id. at ¶ 18). The charges against Plaintiff were dismissed on January 25, 2013. ( Id. at ¶ 20).


When considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the court "must accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions." Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009). The court must determine "whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a plausible claim for relief.'" Id. at 211 ( quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009)). The complaint must do more than merely allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief; it must "show such an entitlement with its facts." Id. (citations omitted). "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct the complaint has alleged - but it has not show[n]' - that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)) (alterations in original). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. at 678 (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported ...

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