United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
J. PAPPERT, J.
Ihlenfeld was arrested in 2014 for his role in an alleged
fight in which he was accused of trying to run over another
man with his truck. Ultimately, prosecutors decided not to
pursue a case against him. Ihlenfeld sued the Borough of
Darby, Officer Mathew Barr, Police Chief Robert Smythe and
four John Doe Defendants alleging constitutional violations
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law claims for false
arrest and imprisonment, malicious prosecution, assault and
battery. The Defendants moved to dismiss all claims. For the
reasons set forth below, the Court grants Defendants'
14, 2014 Darby Borough Police Officer Mathew Barr responded
to a call to investigate an ongoing fight at a residence.
(Am. Compl. ¶ 20, ECF No. 12.) On his way to the
incident, Officer Barr received an update that a suspect was
attempting to run over another person with a truck.
(Id. ¶ 21.) By the time he arrived, however,
the fight was over.
scene, Officer Barr met the alleged victim, Isheem Smith.
Smith told Officer Barr that Plaintiff Dennis Ihlenfeld had
started a fight with him over a set of tools. (Id.
¶ 22.) Ihlenfeld had loaned tools to Jamie Wright, who
lived with Smith. When Ihlenfeld came to collect the tools,
Smith did not allow him to enter the property. (Id.
¶ 26.) According to Smith, Ihlenfeld proceeded to
verbally berate him while brandishing a metal pole.
(Id.) Smith ran from Ihlenfeld and Ihlenfeld chased
him in his truck, in an attempt to run him over.
(Id. ¶ 28.) Smith claimed that he was
ultimately forced to dive into shrubbery to avoid being hit.
(Id. ¶ 29.) Smith provided a written statement
to police. (Defs.' Ex. D-1, Affidavit of Probable Cause,
hereafter “Affidavit.”) Officer Barr also showed
Smith a photo of Ihlenfeld which Smith positively identified
as a picture of his attacker. (Id.)
Barr recorded all of the above information in his affidavit
of probable cause. See (Affidavit). Based on
Barr's affidavit, a neutral magistrate issued a warrant
for Ihlenfeld's arrest. (Am. Compl. ¶ 32.) Later
that day, three or four Darby Borough police officers
arrested Ihlenfeld for aggravated assault, simple assault and
terroristic threats. (Id. ¶¶ 1, 4, 34.)
Ihlenfeld was incarcerated for approximately four or five
days. (Id. ¶ 33.) During his incarceration, he
allegedly suffered extreme pain and discomfort due to his
medical condition, endocarditis, which was exacerbated by
jail conditions and jail personnel's failure to provide
him with his medication. (Id. ¶¶ 33, 38.)
11, 2014 a preliminary hearing was held in the Darby Borough
Magisterial District Court, where, according to Ihlenfeld,
Smith provided inconsistent and perjurious testimony.
(Id. ¶¶ 41-42.) Nevertheless,
Ihlenfeld's charges were held over after the hearing.
(Id. ¶ 88.) The Delaware County District
Attorney's Office, however, ultimately decided not to
pursue the case against Ihlenfeld and all charges were
dismissed with prejudice on December 17, 2014. (Id.
sued the Darby Borough Police Department and Officer Barr on
April 27, 2016. (ECF No. 1.) Defendants filed a motion to
dismiss on August 16, 2016. (ECF No. 9.) Ihlenfeld filed an
amended complaint against the Borough of Darby, Officer Barr,
Police Chief Robert Smythe and four John Doe Defendants on
September 6, 2016. (ECF No. 12.) Defendants' filed a
motion to dismiss the amended complaint on September 20,
2016. (ECF No. 15.) Ihlenfeld filed a response on October 11,
2016, (ECF No. 17), and Defendants filed their reply on
October 14, 2016, (ECF No. 18).
survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint
must provide “more than labels and conclusions”
or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause
of action.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citation omitted). “Factual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level on the assumption that all the
allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in
fact).” Id. (citation omitted). While a
complaint need not include detailed facts, it must provide
“more than an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
and Iqbal require the Court to take three steps to
determine whether the second amended complaint will survive
Defendants' motion to dismiss. See Connelly v. Lane
Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 2016). First,
it must “take note of the elements the plaintiff must
plead to state a claim.” Id. (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675). Next, it must identify the
allegations that are no more than legal conclusions and thus
“not entitled to the assumption of truth.”
Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).
Finally, where the complaint includes well-pleaded factual
allegations, the Court “should assume their veracity
and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an
entitlement to relief.” Id. (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).
“presumption of truth attaches only to those
allegations for which there is sufficient factual matter to
render them plausible on their face.” Schuchardt v.
President of the United States, 839 F.3d 336, 347 (3d
Cir. 2016) (internal quotation and citation omitted).
“Conclusory assertions of fact and legal conclusions
are not entitled to the same presumption.” Id.
This plausibility determination is a “context-specific
task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its
judicial experience and common sense.” Id.
(quoting Connelly, 809 F.3d at 786-87).
plausibility standard, however, “does not impose a
heightened pleading requirement” and does not require a
plaintiff to plead specific facts. Id. In other
words, “courts cannot inject evidentiary issues into
the plausibility determination.” Id. The Third
Circuit has also made it clear that “at least for
purposes of pleading sufficiency, a complaint need not
establish a prima facie case in order to survive a motion to
dismiss” because a “prima facie case is an
evidentiary standard, not a pleading requirement and hence is
not proper measure of whether a complaint fails to state a
claim.” Connelly, 809 F.3d at 789 (internal
quotations and citations omitted). Instead, a plaintiff
should plead “enough facts to raise a reasonable
expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the
necessary elements.” Id. (quoting Phillips
v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008)).