United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
JAMES M. MUNLEY, District Judge.
Before the court are defendants' motions to dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Docs. 6, 15). The parties have briefed the issues, and the motions are ripe for determination.
Plaintiff's claims arise from Defendant Kleeman's alleged sexual assault on plaintiff committed in June, 2010. (see generally Doc. 1 Compl.). Plaintiff alleges Kleeman used the threat of pending prosecution to force her to have sex with him. (Id. ¶¶ 11-37). Plaintiff further alleges that Kleeman and all the other defendants engaged in a cover-up that deprived plaintiff of meaningful access to judicial remedies through a civil suit. (Id. ¶¶ 40-66). Specifically, plaintiff raises claims of denial of access to the courts, violation of First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and conspiracy. (Id. ¶¶ 67-73).
Prior to initiating this action, plaintiff filed a civil suit on May 17, 2012 in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Defendant Kleeman, which was transferred to this court on January 23, 2013. (No. 3:13-cv-163). In that suit, plaintiff seeks damages for false arrest, false imprisonment, excessive force, due process violations, sexual assault and battery, and loss of consortium. ( Id., Doc. 1). The parties have completed discovery, and that case is proceeding toward the trial phase.
In the instant case, Defendant Kleeman filed a motion to dismiss on December 22, 2014 (Doc. 6), followed by the remaining defendants filing a motion to dismiss on February 20, 2015 (Doc. 15). The parties have briefed the issues, bringing the case to its present posture.
Because this case is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. ("The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.").
Defendants filed the instant motions to dismiss plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The court tests the sufficiency of the complaint's allegations when considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. All well-pleaded allegations of the complaint must be viewed as true and in the light most favorable to the non-movant to determine whether, "under any reasonable reading of the pleadings, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief.'" Colburn v. Upper Darby Twp., 838 F.2d 663, 665-66 (3d Cir. 1988) (quoting Estate of Bailey by Oare v. Cnty. of York, 768 F.2d 503, 506 (3d Cir. 1985)). The plaintiff must describe "enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' [each] necessary element" of the claims alleged in the complaint. Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)). Moreover, the plaintiff must allege facts that "justify moving the case beyond the pleadings to the next stage of litigation." Id. at 234-35. In evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint the court may also consider "matters of public record, orders, exhibits attached to the complaint and items appearing in the record of the case." Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 n.2 (3d Cir. 1994) (citations omitted). The court does not have to accept legal conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences. See Curay-Cramer v. Ursuline Acad. of Wilmington, Del., Inc., 450 F.3d 130, 133 (3d Cir. 2006) (citing Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997)).
Defendants argue that plaintiff's claims must be dismissed because they are not yet ripe and are barred by the 11th Amendment. Plaintiff argues against 11th Amendment immunity and asserts her claims are ripe. After careful analysis, the court agrees with the defendants as to the lack of ripeness. Because we find plaintiff's claims are not yet ripe, we do not reach the issue of immunity.
Ripeness is a doctrine of justiciability we use to determine whether a party has brought an action prematurely, and which counsels abstention until such time as a dispute is sufficiently concrete to satisfy the constitutional and prudential requirements of the doctrine. U.S. CONST. art. III, §§ 1-2; Pittsburgh Mack Sales & Serv. v. Int'l Union of Operating Eng'rs, Local Union N. 66, 580 F.3d 185, 190 (3d Cir. 2009). The Supreme Court explained that the "basic rationale" of the ripeness requirement is "to prevent the courts, through avoidance of premature adjudication, from entangling themselves in abstract disagreements." Abbott Labs. v. Gardner, 387 U.S. 136, 148 (1967).
In determining whether a case is ripe, courts generally examine "(1) the fitness of the issues for judicial decision, ' and (2) the hardship to the parties of withholding court consideration.'" Surrick v. Killion, 449 F.3d 520, 527 (3d Cir. 2006) (quoting Abbott Labs., 387 U.S. at 149). The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has stated that a court's assessment of fitness includes, "whether the claim involves uncertain and contingent events that may not occur as anticipated or at all; the extent to which a claim is bound up in the facts; and whether the parties to the action are sufficiently adverse." Ridge, 150 F.3d at 323. "The second prong focuses on the hardship that may be entailed in denying ...