United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
JAMES R. MEADOWS
SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY, et al.
James Meadows sues the Southeastern Pennsylvania
Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and SEPTA Police Officers
Edward Kaiser and Troy Parham setting forth claims under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 and Pennsylvania state law. Dkt. No. 23
(Sec. Am. Compl.). On November 2, 2016, I granted in part and
denied in part defendants' motion to dismiss
plaintiff's first amended complaint. Dkt. No. 17. In his
second amended complaint, plaintiff alleges facts very
similar to those in his first amended complaint and states
the same claims. Dkt. No. 23. Defendants again filed a
partial motion to dismiss, Dkt. No. 27, and plaintiff
responded, Dkt. No. 29. I will again grant defendants'
motion in part, dismissing plaintiff's claims against
SEPTA in Count I, and deny it in part, declining to dismiss
Counts IV and V against the officers.
to the second amended complaint, plaintiff was sitting on a
bench at Suburban Station in Philadelphia on June 3, 2014, at
about 7:30 am, charging his phone and note pad, when
defendants Officers Kaiser and Parham confronted him. Dkt.
No. 23 (Sec. Am. Compl.) ¶¶ 10-11. Plaintiff told
Officer Kaiser that he was waiting for a train and proceeded
to the platform area. Id. at ¶ 12. As he was
walking, Officer Kaiser twice pushed him from behind, at one
point nearly causing him to fall down the steps. Id.
¶ 13. He also threatened to put plaintiff in the
plaintiff got to the platform, Officer Kaiser ordered him to
sit down. Id. at ¶ 14. Plaintiff refused,
responding that he preferred to stand. Id. at ¶
14. Then Officer Kaiser attempted to push plaintiff in his
face and plaintiff “tried to block Officer Kaiser and
pushed back.” Id. at ¶ 14. Officer Parham
then grabbed plaintiff by his neck from behind and threw him
to the ground. Id. at ¶ 14. Officer Kaiser
punched him while Officer Parham held him down. Id.
at ¶ 14. Plaintiff felt severe pain in his right
shoulder. Id. at ¶ 14. Officer Parham
handcuffed plaintiff and slammed him against a steel bench,
further injuring his shoulder. Id. at ¶ 14.
told the officers he needed to go to a hospital emergency
room for a broken shoulder. Id. at ¶ 15.
Instead, the officers took plaintiff to Hall-Mercer
Psychiatric Hospital for the purposes of an involuntary
commitment pursuant to Section 302 of Pennsylvania's
Mental Health Procedures Act, 50 Pa. Cons. Stat. §§
7301-7503. Id. at ¶ 15. A doctor at the
hospital determined that plaintiff's shoulder needed
immediate medical treatment and told the officers to take
plaintiff to the emergency room. Id. at ¶ 15.
They did so, and plaintiff was told he had a dislocated
shoulder, among other injuries. Id. at ¶ 16.
was operated on and then taken back to Hall-Mercer
Psychiatric Ward. Id. at ¶ 16. There, the
doctor told plaintiff the officers' account of what had
happened: that plaintiff had tried to kill himself in front
of a train and got injured when the officers had tried to
help him. Id. at ¶ 17. The doctor examined
plaintiff, “apparently concluded he was not a threat to
himself or others” and let him leave. Id. at
plaintiff filed a complaint with the SEPTA Transit Police
Department of Internal Affairs, describing this incident to
Lieutenant Dougherty and Captain Wiki. Id. at ¶
19. The officers told plaintiff they would look into the
incident. Id. at ¶ 19. On September 16, 2014,
Lieutenant Dougherty called plaintiff and asked him to come
to SEPTA Police headquarters so he could make copies of
plaintiff's medical records. Id. at ¶ 20.
When plaintiff arrived with his records, Lieutenant Dougherty
copied the records and then plaintiff was arrested.
Id. at ¶ 20. Plaintiff was charged with
aggravated assault, terroristic threats, resisting arrest,
recklessly endangering another and disorderly conduct.
Id. at ¶ 21. He was held in jail until December
29, 2014, when all charges were either withdrawn or
dismissed. Id. at ¶¶ 22. As a result of
the officers' conduct, plaintiff has suffered physical
and emotional injuries, scarring, surgery and several
hospital visits, among other harms. Id. at
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a court to dismiss
all or part of an action for “failure to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). Typically, “a complaint attacked by a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual
allegations, ” though plaintiff's obligation to
state the grounds of entitlement to relief “requires
more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation
of the elements of a cause of action will not do.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a
right to relief above the speculative level . . . on the
assumption that all of the allegations in the complaint are
true.” Id. (citations omitted). This
“simply calls for enough fact[s] to raise a reasonable
expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of” the
necessary element. Id. at 556. “To prevent
dismissal, all civil complaints must set out
‘sufficient factual matter' to show that the claim
is facially plausible.” Fowler v. UPMC
Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009), quoting
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The Court
explained, “a complaint must do more than allege the
plaintiff's entitlement to relief. A complaint has to
‘show' such an entitlement with its facts.”
Fowler, 578 F.3d at 211, citing Phillips v.
Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234-35 (3d Cir. 2008).
“[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court
to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the
complaint has alleged-but it has not
‘show[n]'-‘that the pleader is entitled to
relief.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679,
quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).
brings five claims: Count I is a 28 U.S.C. § 1983 claim
against SEPTA, a government agency that is treated as a
municipality for purposes of such claims. Sec. Am. Compl.
¶¶ 33-38; Searles v. SEPTA, 990 F.2d 789,
790 (3d Cir. 1993); Feingold v. SEPTA, 517 A.2d
1270, 1275-76 (Pa. 1986). Counts II and III are § 1983
claims against each defendant officer for violating
plaintiff's Eighth, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment
rights. Id. ¶¶ 39-48. Counts IV and V are
state tort law claims against each defendant officer for
assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional
distress and malicious prosecution. Id. ¶¶
49-54. Defendants move to dismiss Counts I, IV and V. I will
grant their motion with respect to Count I and deny it with
respect to Counts IV and V.
Claims Against SEPTA
order for plaintiff's claims in Count I against SEPTA to
survive a motion to dismiss, plaintiff must allege SEPTA had
a policy or custom that resulted in a violation of his
rights. Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S.
658, 694 (1978). Plaintiff alleges largely the same facts
that he alleged to support Count I of his first amended
complaint, which I dismissed for failure to allege facts
showing the existence of a custom or policy under
Monell. Dkt. No. 17, 5-12. Because the ...