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Moresi v. City of Philadelphia

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

July 8, 2015





Plaintiff Robert Moresi brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state tort law. In his Amended Complaint, he claims that defendants violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by using excessive force and denying him medical care during and subsequent to a violent encounter between Moresi and police officer Reigert Pone, and that in so doing, they also committed assault and battery on him.

Before the Court is the Defendant City of Philadelphia's (the "City") Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The City moves to dismiss Moresi's claim against it on the ground that he has failed to sufficiently allege a claim for municipal liability under Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), because the Amended Complaint includes no viable allegations that the City supported a violation of his constitutional rights. Mot. at 2. For the reasons that follow, the City's motion will be granted.


A. Factual History

Robert Moresi is a Philadelphia resident who encountered an argument between some people and police officers as he walked the 2500 block of South Broad Street in Philadelphia on January 3, 2013. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 6-8. Defendant Reigert Pone, a police officer who was at the scene, focused his attention on Moresi and asked him words to the effect of "what the fuck he was looking at." Id. ¶ 8-10. Pone then grabbed Moresi and slammed his head into the wall causing Moresi head, torso, and knee injuries. Id. ¶ 11. A few currently unknown and unnamed police officers assisted Pone. Id. ¶ 12. After the impact, Moresi's head began swelling and he could not stand up. Id. ¶ 13. Then, Pone arrested Moresi and ordered him to walk. Id. ¶¶ 13-14. Moresi complained to Pone that he was badly hurt and unable to walk, and he requested to be taken to the hospital immediately. Id. ¶¶ 17-19. Pone refused his request. Id. ¶ 19. Moresi walked with a severe limp, which was clearly visible to Pone and other police officers. Id.

After transporting him to the police station, Pone made Moresi walk again and ignored his pleas for medical attention. Id. ¶¶ 20-22. While Moresi was in police custody, Pone and other police officers laughed and ridiculed him, because he could not walk properly and his head was grossly swollen. Id. ¶ 23. Moresi told Pone that he needed immediate medical care, especially for his chronically injured knee and his head, but Pone again ignored him. Id. ¶ 24. Neither Pone nor any of the other Defendant police officers offered Moresi any medical treatment while he was in their custody. Id. ¶ 26. Moresi was released from custody on the same day. Id. ¶ 28. He proceeded to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital-Methodist, where he was treated for injuries to his neck, head, knee, and lower back. Id. ¶¶ 28-29. He had a moderately sized hematoma to his right forehead and spine tenderness. Id. ¶ 30.

B. Procedural History

Moresi filed his initial pro se complaint on January 12, 2015, against the City, Pone, and currently unknown and unnamed police officers of the Philadelphia Police Department claiming excessive force, deliberate indifference to the need for medical treatment, and municipal liability. Compl. ¶¶ 15, 17. On May 11, 2015, the Court granted the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim in which they set forth deficiencies in the pleading of Moresi's Complaint. See ECF No. 10. Specifically, the Court found that Moresi failed to identify a municipal policymaker and to include factual allegations regarding a municipal policy or custom. See generally ECF No. 7. The Court dismissed without prejudice as to all Defendants, and Plaintiff timely filed an Amended Complaint.


"To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "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. The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556-57 (internal quotation marks omitted)).

"In light of Twombly, it is no longer sufficient to allege mere elements of a cause of action; instead a complaint must allege facts suggestive of [the proscribed conduct].'" Great W. Mining & Mineral Co. v. Fox Rothschild LLP, 615 F.3d 159, 177 (3d Cir. 2010) (quoting Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008)). "Context matters in notice pleading, " and thus "some complaints will require at least some factual allegations to make out a showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Phillips, 515 F.3d at 232 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Stating a claim "requires a complaint with enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest' the required element, " calling for "enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element.'" Great Western Mining, 615 F.3d at 177 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). "In other words, there must be some showing sufficient to justify moving the case beyond the pleadings to the next stage of litigation.'" Id. (quoting Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234-35). At bottom, the question is not whether the claimant "will ultimately prevail... but whether his complaint [is] sufficient to cross the federal court's threshold." Skinner v. Switzer, 562 U.S. 521, ___, 131 S.Ct. 1289, 1297 (2011).

Under Third Circuit precedent, determining whether a complaint meets the pleading standard involves a three-step analysis: (1) "outline the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim for relief"; (2) "peel away those allegations that are no more than conclusions and thus not entitled to the assumption of truth"; and (3) "look for well-pled factual allegations, assume their veracity, and then determine whether they plausibly rise to an entitlement to ...

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