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Strunk v. Chester County

United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

March 2, 2015

RANCE STRUNK, SR., DARLENE STRUNK, CLIFFORD B. REPOTSKI, CYNTHIA M. YODER and RICHARD A. YODER, Plaintiffs,
v.
CHESTER COUNTY D/C RICHARD, JOSEPH WALTON, EAST COVENTRY TOWNSHIP POLICE DEPT., MISTIE GREENWALT and CHRISTOPHER JASON, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Schmehl, J. JLS

Pro se Plaintiffs, Rance Strunk, Sr., Darlene Strunk, Clifford B. Repotski, Cynthia M. Yoder and Richard A. Yoder, filed this action against Detective Joseph Walton, East Coventry Township Police Department, Officer Mistie Greenwalt and Officer Christopher Jason for alleged constitutional violations arising from the arrest of Plaintiff, Clifford Repotski (“Repotski”), at the home belonging to the Strunk plaintiffs on February 18, 2011. After Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint, Defendants all filed additional motions to dismiss. For the reasons stated below, I will grant the motions and dismiss this matter with prejudice.[1]

I.INTRODUCTION

Plaintiffs, proceeding pro se, claim that on February 18, 2011, Chester County Detective Walton, East Coventry Township Police Officers Mistie Greenwalt and Christopher Jason, Montgomery County Detectives Mary Anders, Pottstown Police Department and Detective Heather Long arrived at plaintiffs’ common home and arrested Plaintiff Repotski. (See Am. Compl.) Plaintiff Repotski was the subject of a facially valid arrest warrant. (See Compl., Exs. B, C, and H; Am. Compl., Exs. B, C and H.) Plaintiff Repotski consented to the search of the bedroom in which he was staying at the common home, and while this search was taking place, Officers Greenwalt and Jason stood in a hallway. (See Compl., pp. 3-5, Am. Compl., ¶¶ 10 and 11, Pl’s Ex. I.) Plaintiff Repotski pled guilty to four of the five charges against him. (See Am. Compl., Ex. U.) The only allegations against Detective Walton are contained in the “Brief in Support of Amended Complaint, ” where it is alleged that Detectives Long and Anders “conspired with Detective Walton” because they “[knew] they were out of their jurisdiction” and that “Det. Walton was contacted by Det. Long” to “conduct forensic analysis of the items seized from 1319 Ellis Woods Road (the plaintiffs’ common home).” (Pl’s Brief, pp. 9-10.)

Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint claims to set forth §1983 violations, then goes on to state a list of Constitutional Amendments and Pennsylvania criminal statutes that were allegedly violated by defendants. (Am. Compl. ¶ 15.) Plaintiffs then attach a “Brief in Support of Civil Complaint” (“Plaintiffs’ Brief”) to their Amended Complaint, which contains more factual allegations against Defendants, as well as numerous exhibits.

II. STATEMENT OF FACTS

A review of Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint and Brief in Support does not provide a lot of clarity as to the alleged constitutional violations that Plaintiffs are claiming. It appears the detectives and officers who are defendants in this case arrived at the plaintiffs’ common home with a facially valid arrest warrant for Plaintiff Repotski. Detectives Long and Anders, who are not parties to this case, entered plaintiffs’ common home along with Officers Greenwalt and Jason. Detectives Long and Anders searched the room in which Repotski was staying, after obtaining his permission to do so, and seized items from the room. Plaintiff Repotski pled guilty to four of the five charges against him. (Am. Compl., Ex. U.)

Trying to give Plaintiffs the benefit of the doubt and recognizing that they are attempting to allege violations of section 1983, I find Plaintiffs are asserting claims against the defendants for violations of their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, as well as a Monell claim against East Coventry Township and a state law claim of invasion of privacy. Although it is not specifically alleged, I also considered whether Plaintiffs are making claims for excessive use of force and assault and battery.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss requires the court to examine the sufficiency of the complaint. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45, 78 S.Ct. 99, 102, 2 L.Ed.2d 80, 84 (1957) (abrogated in other respects by Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). In determining whether a complaint is sufficient, the court must accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief. Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (citing Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008)).

Although “conclusory” or “bare-bones allegations” will not survive a motion to dismiss, Fowler, 578 F.3d at 210, a complaint may not be dismissed merely because it appears unlikely that the plaintiff can prove those facts or will ultimately prevail on the merits. Phillips, 515 F.3d at 231. Nonetheless, to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint must provide "enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element." Id. at 234 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556) (internal quotations omitted).

IV. DISCUSSION

A. Motion to Dismiss of Detective Joseph Walton

Defendant, Detective Joseph Walton (“Detective Walton”), seeks to have Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint dismissed because it violates the pleading standards contained in Rules 8 and 10 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). For the reasons that follow, I grant Detective Walton’s Motion to Dismiss with ...


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