United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
F. KELLY, Sr. J.
before the Court is Defendants, Christopher Thomas
(“Thomas”) and City of Philadelphia's
(“City”) (collectively “Defendants”)
Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6), Plaintiff, Steven Johnson's
(“Plaintiff”) Response in Opposition thereto, and
Defendants' Reply. For the reasons set forth below,
Defendants' Motion is denied.
case revolves around an incident where a prisoner was
erroneously discharged 124 days past the maximum term allowed
by his sentence. On September 29, 2016, Plaintiff initiated
suit by filing a Complaint against Defendants. (Doc. No. 1.)
Defendants moved to dismiss and, Plaintiff, subsequently,
filed an Amended Complaint on October 28, 2016. (Doc. No. 5.)
Defendants now move to dismiss Plaintiff's Amended
Complaint. (Doc. No. 6.)
underlying facts of the case begin on April 26, 2011, when
Plaintiff was sentenced in the Philadelphia Court of Common
Pleas to three to six years in state prison. (Am. Compl.
¶ 6.) If Plaintiff served the maximum term allowed under
his sentence, he was to be released on April 10, 2016;
however, he was not actually released from custody until
August 12, 2016. (Id. ¶ 16.)
reason for the late release had to do with Defendants not
properly awarding Plaintiff time credit for the time he spent
in custody. (Id. ¶ 7.) Allegedly, Plaintiff
realized the error and notified Thomas and John Doe
(“Doe”), the Pennsylvania Department of
Corrections, and the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and
Parole. (Id. ¶¶ 8-9.) In addition,
Plaintiff filed a pro se motion on July 12, 2015, in the
Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia to correct his time
credit issue, but he was not given a hearing. (Id.
¶ 10.) Eventually, Thomas and Doe recalculated
Plaintiff's time credit and realized the error.
(Id. ¶ 12.) Once Thomas and Doe alerted the
Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and/or the
Pennsylvania Board of Probation of this error, Plaintiff was
immediately released from custody. (Id. ¶¶
Amended Complaint is comprised of five counts. Plaintiff
alleges in Count I that all Defendants deprived him of his
procedural due process rights by failing to properly execute
the sentencing court's judgment. (Id.
¶¶ 24-32.) In Count II, Plaintiff alleges that
Thomas and Doe violated his substantive due process rights by
erroneously calculating his sentence in the course of
executing the sentencing court's judgment. (Id.
¶¶ 33-38.) Count III contends that Thomas and Doe
violated his Fourth and Fourteenth amendments by wrongly
executing his sentence and holding him without basis past the
expiration of his sentence. (Id. ¶¶
39-45.) Count IV alleges that the City was responsible for
the aforementioned claims based on municipal liability.
(Id. ¶¶ 46-53.) Finally, in Count V,
Plaintiff contends that Thomas and Doe committed the state
law tort of false imprisonment, related to their wrongful
execution of the sentencing court's judgment.
(Id. ¶¶ 54-58.) On November 2, 2016,
Defendants filed the Motion to Dismiss that is before us
today. (Doc. 6.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint. Kost v.
Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993). Pursuant to
Rule 12(b)(6), the defendant bears the burden of
demonstrating that the plaintiff has failed to set forth a
claim from which relief may be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6); see also Lucas v. City of Phila., No.
11-4376, 2012 WL 1555430, at *2 (E.D. Pa. May 2, 2012)
(citing Hedges v. U.S., 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir.
2005)). In evaluating a motion to dismiss, the court must
view any reasonable inferences from the factual allegations
in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Buck v.
Hamilton Twp. Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir.
United States Supreme Court (“Supreme Court”) set
forth in Twombly, and further defined in
Iqbal, a two-part test to determine whether to grant
or deny a motion to dismiss. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009); Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The United States
Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (“Third
Circuit”) has noted that these cases signify the
progression from liberal pleading requirements to more
“exacting scrutiny” of the complaint. Wilson
v. City of Phila., 415 F.Appx. 434, 436 (3d Cir. 2011).
the court must ascertain whether the complaint is supported
by well-pleaded factual allegations. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 679. “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause
of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
Conclusions of law can serve as the foundation of a
complaint, but to survive dismissal they must be supported by
factual allegations. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. These
factual allegations must be explicated sufficiently to
provide a defendant the type of notice that is contemplated
by Rule 8. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) (requiring a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief); see also Phillips v.
County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008).
Where there are well-pleaded facts, courts must assume their
truthfulness. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
finding of a well-pleaded complaint, the court must then
determine whether these allegations “plausibly”
give rise to an entitlement to relief. Id. at 679.
This is a “context specific task that requires the
reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common
sense.” Id. Plausibility compels the pleadings
to contain enough factual content to allow a court to make
“a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 at 570). This is not a
probability requirement; rather plausibility necessitates
“more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has
acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
“Where a complaint pleads facts that are ‘merely
consistent with' a defendant's liability, it
‘stops short of the line between possibility and
plausibility.'” Id. (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). In other words, a
complaint must not only allege entitlement to relief, but
must demonstrate such entitlement with sufficient facts to
nudge the claim “across the line from conceivable to
plausible.” Id. at 683; see also Holmes v.
Gates, 403 F. App'x 670, 673 (3d Cir. 2010).
argue that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint should be
dismissed on its merits for several reasons. Defendants first
argue that all of Plaintiff's claims are barred by the
decision of the Supreme Court in Heck v. Humphrey,
512 U.S. 477 (1994). (Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss at 4-5.)
Second, Defendants argue that if Heck does not bar
Plaintiff's claims, the claims should nonetheless be
dismissed because they cannot be liable for mere
“negligence” under § 1983. (Id. at
4.) Finally, Defendants argued that Count IV should be
dismissed because the City cannot be held liable for any
claims since the facts alleged in the Amended Complaint do