United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
M. MUNLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
the court is the defendants' motion to dismiss filed
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Doc.
31). For the following reasons, the court will grant the
Faith Kintzel (hereinafter “plaintiff”) alleges
that Pennsylvania State Police Officer Stephan Kleeman
(hereinafter “Officer Kleeman”) sexually
assaulted her in June of 2010. (See Doc. 29, Am.
Compl. (hereinafter “Am. Compl.”)). Specifically,
she avers that Officer Kleeman used the threat of pending
prosecution to force her to have sex with him. (Id.
¶¶ 9-36). Plaintiff further alleges that Officer
Kleeman and four other state police officers, Dante Orlandi,
William E. Tucker, Corporal Wise, and Kathy Winterbottom
(hereinafter the “state police defendants”),
withheld evidence and engaged in a cover-up that deprived her
of meaningful access to judicial remedies through a lawsuit
against Officer Kleeman. (Id. ¶¶ 37-66).
initiated this action against Officer Kleeman and the state
police defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
(hereinafter “section 1983”) on November 20,
2014, alleging: Count I, denial of access to the courts; and
Count II, conspiracy. (See Doc. 1, Compl.). Prior to
initiating this action, plaintiff sued Officer Kleeman in the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania on May 17, 2012 (hereinafter
“Kintzel I”), alleging false arrest,
false imprisonment, excessive force, due process violations,
sexual assault and battery, and loss of consortium.
(See 3:13-cv-163, Doc. 1, Compl.). On January 23,
2013, Kintzel I was transferred to this court. The
parties agreed to settle the matter for $23, 000.00,
we dismissed the case on August 17, 2016. (Am. Compl.
¶¶ 47, 64; 3:13-cv-163, Doc. 161).
30, 2015, prior to Kintzel I's settlement and
dismissal, we dismissed the instant action without prejudice
for lack of ripeness. (Docs. 27 and 28). On November 14,
2016, after Kintzel I's settlement and
dismissal, plaintiff filed an amended complaint in the
instant action (Doc. 29), as well as an entirely new lawsuit
alleging the same claims. (See 3:16-cv-2493, Doc. 1,
Compl.). We reopened this case on January 6, 2017 (Doc. 30),
and consolidated plaintiff's new lawsuit with this one on
January 27, 2017. (Doc. 33).
January 27, 2017, the state police defendants moved to
dismiss plaintiff's amended complaint pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted. (Doc. 31). The parties have
briefed their respective positions and the matter is ripe for
this case is brought pursuant to section 1983, the court has
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (“The
district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil
actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of
the United States.”).
state police defendants filed the instant motion to dismiss
plaintiff's amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The court tests the sufficiency of
the complaint's allegations when considering a Rule
12(b)(6) motion. All well-pleaded allegations of the
complaint must be viewed as true and in the light most
favorable to the non-movant to determine whether,
“‘under any reasonable reading of the pleadings,
the plaintiff may be entitled to relief.'”
Colburn v. Upper Darby Twp., 838 F.2d 663, 665-66
(3d Cir. 1988) (quoting Estate of Bailey by Oare v. Cty.
of York, 768 F.2d 503, 506 (3d Cir. 1985)). The
plaintiff must describe “‘enough facts to raise a
reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence
of' [each] necessary element” of the claims alleged
in the complaint. Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515
F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)). Moreover, the
plaintiff must allege facts that “justify moving the
case beyond the pleadings to the next stage of
litigation.” Id. at 234-35. In evaluating the
sufficiency of a complaint, the court may also consider
“matters of public record, orders, exhibits attached to
the complaint and items appearing in the record of the
case.” Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran &
Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 n.2 (3d Cir. 1994) (citations
omitted). The court need not accept legal conclusions or
unwarranted factual inferences. See Curay-Cramer
v. Ursuline Acad. of Wilmington, Del., Inc., 450 F.3d
130, 133 (3d Cir. 2006) (citing Morse v. Lower Merion
Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997)).
state police defendants move to dismiss plaintiff's
complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6), arguing that plaintiff has failed to plead facts
sufficient to satisfy the elements of her section 1983 claims
for denial of access to the courts and conspiracy. Section
1983 provides a civil remedy for the “deprivation of
any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the
Constitution and laws.” 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
“To state a claim under section 1983, a plaintiff must
demonstrate that ‘some person has deprived him of a
federal right . . . [and] that the person who has deprived
him of that right acted under the color of state or
territorial law.'” Halsey v. Pfeiffer, 750
F.3d 273, 290 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Gomez v.
Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980)). Thus, “[t]he
threshold issue in any [section] 1983 lawsuit is whether the
plaintiff has sufficiently alleged a deprivation of a
constitutional right.” L.R. v. Sch. Dist. of
Phila., 836 F.3d 235, 241 (3d Cir. 2016).
the parties do not contest whether the state police
defendants acted under state law. Rather, they dispute
whether the state police defendants deprived plaintiff of her
constitutional rights. As previously stated, Count I of the
complaint asserts a section 1983 denial of access to the