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King v. Philadelphia Parking Authority

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

April 10, 2015

TONY DPHAX KING, Plaintiff,
v.
PHILADELPHIA PARKING AUTHORITY et al., Defendants

For TONY DPHAX KING, Plaintiff: REGINALD C. ALLEN, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

For THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA AND CURRENTLY UNNAMED AND UNKNOWN EMPLOYEES THEREOF, Defendant: AARON SHOTLAND, LEAD ATTORNEY, CITY OF PHILADELPHIA LAW DEPT, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

For THE PHILADELPHIA PARKING AUTHORITY AND CURRENTLY UNKNOWN AND UNNAMED EMPLOYEES THEREOF, Defendant: AARON SHOTLAND, LEAD ATTORNEY, CITY OF PHILADELPHIA LAW DEPT, PHILADELPHIA, PA; DENNIS G. WELDON, THE PHILADELPHIA PARKING AUTHORITY, LEAD ATTORNEY, PHILADLEPHIA, PA; STEVEN C. BOC, LEAD ATTORNEY, PHILADELPHIA PARKING AUTHORITY, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

Page 650

MEMORANDUM

EDUARDO C. ROBRENO, J.

This case arises from Plaintiff Tony Dphax King's suit against Defendants Philadelphia Parking Authority (" the PPA" ) and the City of Philadelphia (" the City" ) for constitutional and state law violations allegedly suffered in connection with Plaintiff's receipt and appeal of multiple parking tickets. Defendants have moved to dismiss. For the following reasons, the Court will grant the motions to dismiss.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff asserts that he reasonably interpreted Philadelphia parking ordinances[1] allowing him to park his scooter on the sidewalk when necessary to avoid damage from heavy street traffic. Second

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Am. Compl. (" SAC" ) ¶ 8. Nonetheless, Defendant PPA issued Plaintiff numerous parking tickets, which Plaintiff contested at a hearing before a Bureau of Administrative Adjudication (" BAA" ) hearing examiner. Id. ¶ ¶ 10-11; PPA's Mem. Supp. Mot. Dismiss Ex. A, King v. City of Phila., No. 124 C.D. 2014, slip op. at 1-2 (Pa. Commw. Ct. Oct. 24, 2014). After the hearing examiner ruled against him, Plaintiff requested an appeal hearing. PPA's Mem. Supp. Mot. Dismiss Ex. A, King, No. 124 C.D. 2014, slip op. at 2. On September 21, 2012, the BAA--which is operated by the City--held a hearing without Plaintiff's presence, despite notice from Plaintiff that he could not attend, and found him liable for the alleged violations. SAC ¶ 12; PPA's Mem. Supp. Mot. Dismiss Ex. A, King, No. 124 C.D. 2014, slip op. at 2. Plaintiff claims that these hearings are inherently biased, as they are presided over by City employees who give deference to PPA testimony. SAC ¶ ¶ 13-14. Plaintiff appealed the BAA's decision to the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, which dismissed the pro se appeal for Plaintiff's failure to file a brief in a timely manner. Id. ¶ 15. Plaintiff appealed to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, which affirmed the lower court's discretionary dismissal. Id.

During the pendency of Plaintiff's appeal, Defendants demanded payment of his ticket fines, now amounting to thousands of dollars. Id. ¶ ¶ 18-19. Defendants allegedly intentionally reported these debts to major credit agencies, which lowered Plaintiff's credit rating and prevented him from obtaining a loan for needed home improvements. Id. ¶ 19. In November 2013, Defendants allegedly reported Plaintiff to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which suspended Plaintiff's driver's license until he could pay the ticket fines. Id. ¶ ¶ 22-24.

In light of the above factual allegations, Plaintiff brings three counts against Defendants: a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging a Fourteenth Amendment due process violation against the City (Count I); a similar § 1983 claim, alleging a Fourteenth Amendment due process violation against the PPA (Count II); and various state law claims against " currently unnamed and unknown employees" of the City and the PPA, including " attempted theft (trespass), false light privacy and defamation, . . . and malicious prosecution" (Count III). Id. ¶ ¶ 32-39. Plaintiff alleges that he suffered financial harm, reputational harm, and emotional distress, and requests compensatory and punitive damages. Id. ¶ 40.

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On February 18, 2014, Plaintiff filed his initial pro se Complaint. ECF Nos. 1-1, 4. After the Court dismissed Defendants' first two motions to dismiss without prejudice, Plaintiff filed a counseled Second Amended Complaint on December 22, 2014. ECF No. 21. On January 8, 2015, the PPA filed a Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 22), to which Plaintiff responded on February 5, 2015 (ECF No. 27). On February 2, 2015, the City filed a Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 26), to which Plaintiff responded on February 19, 2015 (ECF No. 29). On March 2, 2015, the Court heard oral argument on this matter. These motions are now ripe for disposition.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must " accept as true all allegations

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in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party." DeBenedictis v. Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., 492 F.3d 209, 215 (3d Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks omitted). In order to withstand a motion to dismiss, a complaint's " [f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 & n.3 (2007). This " requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. at 555 (citation omitted). The Third Circuit has interpreted Twombly as emphasizing three principles. First, a plaintiff must provide " a 'showing' rather than a blanket assertion of an entitlement to relief" --a showing being " some factual allegation in the complaint." Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232 (3d Cir. 2008). Second, the " no set of facts" language from Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957),[2] is rejected. Phillips, 515 F.3d at 232-33. Finally, the Twombly decision's plausibility requirement applies outside the narrow antitrust context.[3] Id. at 234. The Phillips court summarized that what Twombly requires is " not merely a short and plain statement, but instead . . . a statement 'showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Id. (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

In further fleshing out the plausibility requirement, the Third Circuit has held that the pleadings must contain sufficient factual allegations so as to state a facially plausible claim for relief. See, e.g., Gelman v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co.,583 F.3d 187, 190 (3d Cir. 2009). A claim possesses such 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. ...


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