United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
looking for a burglary suspect, officers of the Philadelphia
Police Department allegedly barged illegally into the home of
Tanya Lewis, and battered and detained her son Timothy
Mayhew. When Lewis protested, Officer Alexander Branch
arrested her for disorderly conduct. After a witness cleared
Mayhew of any connection with the burglary, Mayhew also
protested his treatment and Sergeant Aaron Farmbry arrested
him for disorderly conduct. At trial, both Lewis and Mayhew
and Mayhew (together, “Plaintiffs”) sued Officer
Branch, Sergeant Farmbry, twelve unnamed police officers, and
the City of Philadelphia for violating their First and Fourth
Amendment rights and for committing various state torts. The
City now moves to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims against it
for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6). Because Plaintiffs' Complaint does
not satisfy the basic requirements of municipal liability
established in Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of N.Y.
City, 436 U.S. 658 (1978) and its progeny, the Court
will grant the motion.
December 2014, Lewis was living in her Philadelphia home with
her son Mayhew. (Compl. ¶ 18.) Plaintiffs allege that on
December 9, officers of the Philadelphia Police Department
arrived outside Lewis's home while investigating a
burglary that had taken place several blocks away.
(Id. ¶ 19.) Lewis opened her front door to
discover numerous police officers on her street.
(Id. ¶¶ 20-22.) An officer stated that
they were looking for a black man in a hoodie who they
believed had entered her home. (Id. ¶ 23.)
Lewis told the officers that her daughter's boyfriend had
just returned from getting pizza. (Id. ¶ 24.)
Lewis's daughter and her daughter's boyfriend then
went outside to speak with the officers, apparently without
incident. (Id. ¶ 25.)
allege that suddenly and without justification, several
police officers ran into Lewis's home and pointed their
guns at Mayhew, who was standing in the living room.
(Id. ¶¶ 27-29.) Fearing for his life,
Mayhew ran into the cinder-block fenced backyard, where
Plaintiffs allege that several police officers battered him.
(Id. ¶¶ 30-33.) The officers then carried
Mayhew to the street, placed him in a police car, and drove
him to an in-person identification related to the burglary.
(Id. ¶¶ 35, 41.) After the eyewitness
cleared Mayhew of any connection to the burglary, Mayhew told
Sergeant Farmbry that he was upset about his detention and
treatment by the police. (Id. ¶¶ 42-43.)
Sergeant Farmbry told Mayhew to stop speaking. (Id.
¶ 44.) When he refused, Sergeant Farmbry arrested
Mayhew. (Id. ¶ 45.)
Lewis had become upset about the officers' behavior and,
after briefly fainting, questioned the officers about what
they were doing to Mayhew. (Id. ¶¶ 34,
36-37.) Officer Branch told Lewis that she would be arrested
if she did not stop speaking. (Id. ¶ 38.) When
she continued to speak, he arrested her. (Id.
and Mayhew were separately taken to the seventeenth district
police station, where they were both charged with disorderly
conduct and issued citations. (Id. ¶¶ 40,
45-47.) Lewis and Mayhew then allegedly went to a hospital
emergency room, where Mayhew was treated for his injuries.
(Id. ¶¶ 48-49.) Soon after, Lewis filed a
complaint about the incident with the Philadelphia Police
Department's Internal Affairs Bureau. (Id.
¶ 50.) At trial two months later, Judge T. Francis
Shields granted a motion for judgment of acquittal for both
Lewis and Mayhew. (Id. ¶¶ 51-56.)
years later, Lewis and Mayhew sued Officer Branch, Sergeant
Farmbry, twelve unnamed police officers, and the City of
Philadelphia. They allege that the defendant police officers
violated Plaintiffs' First and Fourth Amendment rights to
be free from unlawful search, unlawful arrest, retaliatory
arrest, malicious prosecution, assault, and the use of
excessive force. (Id. ¶¶ 66-70.) They also
assert that the officers committed the state law torts of
false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution,
trespass, conversion, assault, and battery. (Id.
¶¶ 72- 73.) In addition, Plaintiffs allege that the
City of Philadelphia proximately caused Plaintiffs'
injuries through customs that encouraged Philadelphia Police
Department officers to engage in unconstitutional conduct.
(Id. ¶ 71; Pls.' Resp. Mot. Dismiss 7-9.)
The City of Philadelphia now moves to dismiss the claims
against it for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
reviewing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a
district court must accept as true all well-pleaded
allegations and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of
the nonmoving party. See Powell v. Weiss, 757 F.3d
338, 341 (3d Cir. 2014). A court need not, however, credit
“bald assertions” or “legal
conclusions” when deciding a motion to dismiss.
Anspach ex rel. Anspach v. City of Phila.,
Dep't of Pub. Health, 503 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir.
2007); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
“[f]actual allegations [in a complaint] must be enough
to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint
must include “enough facts to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570.
Although the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure impose no
probability requirement at the pleading stage, a plaintiff
must present “enough facts to raise a reasonable
expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the
necessary element[s]” of a cause of action.
Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d
Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted). “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Simply
reciting the elements will not suffice. Id. (holding
that pleading labels and conclusions without further factual
enhancement will not survive motion to dismiss); see also
Phillips, 515 F.3d at 233. In deciding a motion to
dismiss, the court may consider “allegations contained
in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint and
matters of public record.” Schmidt v. Skolas,
770 F.3d 241, 249 (3d Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks
Third Circuit has established a two-part analysis for a
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. First, the
legal conclusions and factual allegations of the claim should
be separated, with the well-pleaded facts accepted as true
but the legal conclusions disregarded. Fowler v. UPMC
Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009). Second,
the court must make a common sense determination of whether
the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show a
plausible claim for relief. Id. at 211. If the court
can only infer the possibility of misconduct, the complaint
must be dismissed because it has alleged-but failed to
show-that the pleader is entitled to relief. Id.