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McLean v. City of Philadelphia

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

December 20, 2016

JACQUELYN MCLEAN
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA

          MEMORANDUM

          R. BARCLAY SURRICK, J.

         Presently before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. (ECF No. 3.) For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion will be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background[1]

         Plaintiff's Amended Complaint alleges that on January 12, 2013, Plaintiff Jacquelyn McLean requested emergency services and transportation to a nearby hospital. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 4-5, ECF No. 1.) Defendant City of Philadelphia and its employees, who operated a Philadelphia Fire Department Rescue Ambulance (hereinafter, the “ambulance”), responded and arrived at 5716 Malcom Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at approximately 10:00 a.m. (Id. ¶ 4.) Upon their arrival, City employees directed Plaintiff to ambulate herself into the ambulance. (Id. ¶ 7.) As she entered the ambulance without assistance from Defendant, Plaintiff fell backwards out of the ambulance and landed on the ground. (Id. ¶ 8.) Plaintiff suffered injuries to her ankle, neck, and back. (Id. ¶ 9.)

         B. Procedural History

         On January 7, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Complaint against Defendant in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia. (Notice of Removal ¶ 1, ECF No. 1.) On February 2, 2015, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. The Amended Complaint asserts claims under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 for violations of Plaintiff's civil rights under the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. (Am. Compl. ¶ 19.)[2] On February 25, 2015, Defendant filed a Notice of Removal to this Court. Defendant subsequently filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. Plaintiff filed an Answer to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 7.)

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), “[a] pleading that states a claim for relief must contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Rule 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. A motion under Rule 12(b)(6), tests the sufficiency of the complaint against the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a). “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 is plausible “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. A complaint that merely alleges entitlement to relief, without alleging facts that show entitlement, must be dismissed. See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 211 (3d Cir. 2009). Courts need not accept “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements . . . .” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.” Id. at 679. This ‘“does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage, ' but instead ‘simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' the necessary element.” Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         In determining whether dismissal of the complaint is appropriate, courts use a two-part analysis. Fowler, 578 F.3d at 210. First, courts separate the factual and legal elements of the claim and accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true. Id. at 210-11. Next, courts 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 Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). Given the nature of the two-part analysis, “‘[d]etermining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will . . . be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.'” McTernan v. City of York, 577 F.3d 521, 530 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Section 1983 Liability

         Section 1983 states in relevant part that “[e]very person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States . . . the deprivation of any rights . . . secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law.” 42 U.S.C. § 1983. A “person” includes local government units and municipalities. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978). “A cause of action under Section 1983 requires only two allegations: a person has deprived the plaintiff of a federal right, and that person acted under color of state or territorial law.” Goldwire v. City of Phila., No. 15-2856, 2015 WL 5334314, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 11, 2015) (citing Gomez v. Toledo,446 U.S. 635 (1980)). Here, Plaintiff asserts that she was deprived of a number of her rights. Plaintiff alleges that the conduct of Defendant violated her constitutional rights to be free from “unreasonable searches and seizures, rights to medical care in custody, rights to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, rights to privacy, right to bodily integrity, right to safety, and to substantive and procedural ...


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