United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
David Smith, proceeding pro se, brings this suit against
Defendants for alleged violations of his constitutional
rights stemming from his incarceration at Curran-Fromhold
Correctional Facility ("CFCF") in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. The following Defendants filed a Motion to
Dismiss the claims against them under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6): the City of Philadelphia, Former Mayor
Michael Nutter, Major F. Abello, Commissioner Louis Giorla,
Warden Michele Farrell, Captain Murtha, Captain Vettar,
Sergeant Molina, Correctional Officer Edwards, and
Correctional Officer Ginyard (collectively, "Moving
Defendants" or "Defendants"). (Doc. No. 36.)
This Motion is presently before the Court for a
Amended Complaint, Plaintiff asserts that Defendants
committed various constitutional violations, triggering civil
liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (commonly referred to
as "Section 1983"). (Doc. No. 27.) He alleges that
Defendants violated his constitutional rights under the
Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments in three ways. (IdL at 7.)
First, Plaintiff brings a Section 1983 claim alleging that
the City of Philadelphia violated his Eighth Amendment and
Fourteenth Amendment right to be free from excessive force.
(Id. at 6-7.) Second, Plaintiff also raises a
Section 1983 claim alleging that certain individuals violated
his Eighth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment right to be
free from excessive force. In these claims, Plaintiff
contends that the Moving Defendants should be liable for
their failure to train the Answering Defendants in
"protect[ing] inmates' rights to person[al]
safety." (Id. at 5.) Third, Plaintiff alleges
that Defendants Edwards and Ginyard violated his Eighth
Amendment rights by failing to provide him with a meal.
Smith alleges that he suffered federal civil rights
violations during his incarceration at Curran-Fromhold
Correctional Facility ("CFCF") in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. (Doc. No. 27.) While being housed in one of
CFCF's units,  Smith was under the supervision of several
correctional officers. Officers Edwards, Ginyard, Carter,
Evans, Bradley, and Hammond were among those responsible for
monitoring him. (Id.) On September 23, 2013,
Correctional Officers Edwards and Ginyard failed to give
Plaintiff his dinner. (Id. at 3.) Smith asked the
officers why he was being denied his meal. (Id.) As
a result of his questioning, Correctional Officers Carter,
Evans, Bradley and Hammond were called to the scene to assist
Edwards and Ginyard. (Id.) Smith was told to put his
hands behind his back to be handcuffed, and he complied.
(Id.) "At no time did . . . Plaintiff
resist." (Id.) After he was handcuffed, one
of the officers sprayed pepper spray on Plaintiff's face.
(Id.) The officers then picked Smith up and slammed
him onto "the day-room floor with great force."
(Id.) "After being slammed to the floor,
[Plaintiff] was spray[ed] again and again . . . each
defendant sprayed . . . [Plaintiff] with their . . . pepper
spray cans as Plaintiff layed [sic] face down and
handcuffed." (Doc. No. 49 at ¶ 2.)
this ordeal, Smith asked why he was being punished. (Doc. No.
27 at 4.) The officers responded that Smith was being
punished for "questioning orders and seeking legal
redress for the officer's [sic] action ... of not giving
him his meal." (Id.) Plaintiff sustained
injuries to his face, hands, ribs, arms, and back from this
incident. (Doc. No. 49 at ¶¶ 4-5.) Plaintiff
"sustained a right fractured rib and a left upper arm
fracture." (Id. at ¶ 4.) Plaintiff alleges
that he needed surgery to alleviate the injuries he sustained
to his hands, but did not receive this medical care. (Doc.
No. 27 at 4.) As a result, he "lost the use of his left
middle finger." (Id.) He also is unable
"to adequately lay on his right side."
April 27, 2016, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed the
Amended Complaint against Defendants. (Doc. No. 27.) On
August 19, 2016, the Moving Defendants filed a Motion to
Dismiss the Amended Complaint. (Doc. No. 36.) Plaintiff filed a
Response in Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. No.
49.) The Motion is now ripe for a decision.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion to dismiss standard under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) is set forth in Ashcroft v.
Iqbal. 556 U.S. 662 (2009). After Iqbal it is
clear that "threadbare recitals of the elements of a
cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements do
not suffice" to defeat a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss. Id. at 663; see also Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). "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." Ethypharm S.A. France v.
Abbott Labs., 707 F.3d 223, 232 n.14 (3d Cir. 2013)
(citing Sheridan v. NGK Metals Corp., 609
F.3d 239, 262 n.27 (3d Cir. 2010)). "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."
Id. Applying the principles of Iqbal and
Twombly, the Third Circuit in Santiago v.
Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121 (3d Cir. 2010), set forth
a three-part analysis that a district court in this Circuit
must conduct in evaluating whether allegations in a complaint
survive a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss:
First, the court must "tak[e] note of the elements a
plaintiff must plead to state a claim." Second, the
court should identify allegations that, "because they
are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the
assumption of truth." Finally, "where there are
well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their
veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise
to an entitlement for relief."
Id. at 130 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675,
679). "This means that our inquiry is normally broken
into three parts: (1) identifying the elements of the claim,
(2) reviewing the complaint to strike conclusory allegations,
and then (3) looking at the well-pleaded components of the
complaint and evaluating whether all of the elements
identified in part one of the inquiry are sufficiently
alleged." Malleus v. George, 641 F.3d 560, 563
(3d Cir. 2011).
determining a motion to dismiss, the court must "accept
all factual allegations in the complaint as true and view
them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff."
Buck v. Hampton Twp. Sch. Dist, 452 F.3d 256, 260
(3d Cir. 2006). Where, as here, the complaint is filed pro
se, the "complaint, 'however inartfully pleaded'
must be held to 'less stringent standards than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers.'" Fatone v.
Latini, 780 F.3d 184, 193 (3d Cir. 2015) (quoting
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972)). It
should be dismissed only if it appears "beyond doubt
that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of
[his] claim that would entitle [him] to relief."
Olaniyi v. Alexa Cab Co.. 239 F App'x 698, 699
(3d Cir. 2007) (citing McDowell v. Del. State
Police. 88 F.3d 188, 189 (3d Cir. 1996)).
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), Defendants seek
to dismiss the Amended Complaint. (Doc. No. 36.) The Court
will address each of Plaintiff's claims in turn.
Plaintiff Has Not Plausibly Alleged a Monell
Claim for Failure to Train
first alleges that the Moving Defendants failed to train the
Answering Defendants in the proper procedures to protect
inmates' safety. (Doc. No. 27 at 5.) In contrast,
Defendants argue that Plaintiff has failed to identify a
policy or custom of the City of Philadelphia which led to the
constitutional violation. In the Motion to Dismiss, they also
argue that the individual Defendants cannot be liable under a
failure to train theory because Plaintiff has not alleged any
personal involvement on the part of these Defendants in the
Plaintiff Has Not Plausibly Alleged a Claim of Failure to
Train Against the City of Philadelphia Because He Has Not
Identified a Policy or Custom Which Caused the Alleged
has alleged a Monell violation in the Amended
Complaint. He contends that the City of Philadelphia failed
to train its employees on the proper ways to protect inmates
at CFCF. (Doc. No. 27 at 5-6.) Defendants argue to the
contrary that Plaintiff has failed to identify a policy or
custom that led to the constitutional violation. For this
reason, according to Defendants, Plaintiff has not pled
sufficient facts to state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face.
plaintiff seeking to hold a municipal entity liable under
Section 1983 "must demonstrate that the violation of
rights was caused by the municipality's policy or
custom."Thomas v. Cumberland Cty., 749
F.3d 217, 222 (3d Cir. 2014). The Third Circuit has explained
that where the policy "concerns a failure to train or
supervise municipal employees, liability under section 1983
requires a showing that the failure amounts to
'deliberate indifference' to the rights of persons
with whom those employees will come into contact."
Id. "The identified deficiency in a [municipal
entity's] training program must be closely related to the
ultimate injury;" or, in other words, "the
deficiency in training [must have] actually caused" the
constitutional violation. See City of Canton v.
Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 391 (1989) (holding that the