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Benedict v. Borough of Malvern

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

May 1, 2017

KATHLEEN BENEDICT
v.
BOROUGH OF MALVERN,

          MEMORANDUM RE: MOTION TO STRIKE & MOTION TO DISMISS

          BAYLSON, J.

         Before the Court are two pending motions in this Section 1983 action: Defendant Michael McMahon's Motion to Strike Plaintiff Kathleen Benedict's Third Amended Complaint (“TAC”) (ECF No. 62), and Defendant Malvern Fire Company's (“Malvern Fire”) Motion to Dismiss, or in the alternative, to Strike Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint (ECF No. 63). For the reasons explained below, the Motion to Strike is denied and the Motion to Dismiss is granted with prejudice.

         I. FACTUAL HISTORY

         The following facts are taken from Plaintiff's TAC. On December 10, 2013, Malvern Fire Company dispatched an ambulance to 5 Birch Road in Malvern, Pennsylvania, in response to a diabetic-type emergency. TAC ¶ 10. Three medical responders entered the home and approached Plaintiff in the kitchen, where it was apparent she was suffering from hypoglycemia and acting erratically. Id. ¶¶ 11-12. The emergency responders were familiar with Plaintiff because they had treated her many times prior to the date of the subject incident. Id. ¶ 13. Their goal in treating Plaintiff was to restore Plaintiff's normal blood sugar level by having her ingest glucose-fortified food and drink. Id. ¶ 14. In order to accomplish that, they had to surround and physically restrain her because she was attempting to leave the house. Id. ¶¶ 15-16. In the process of doing so, one of the paramedics, Defendant McMahon, grabbed Plaintiff by the shirt and hit her in the head with his left elbow, knocking her to the floor. Id. ¶ 18. Plaintiff was rushed to Paoli Hospital, where she arrived in an unresponsive state and was diagnosed with a subdural hematoma and brain bleed, likely caused by a blow to the head. Id. ¶¶ 59-60.

         McMahon later described Plaintiff as an “asshole” and stated that he had “knock[ed] her for a loop.” Id. ¶ 27. This behavior was not out of the ordinary for McMahon; both Malvern Fire and McMahon's direct supervisor, Richard Constantine, were aware that McMahon had anger control issues, was known by the nickname “McAngry, ” and generally was a “hothead” with violent propensities. Id. ¶¶ 31-32, 64-65. But, despite that knowledge, neither Mr. Constantine nor any other individual at Malvern Fire trained McMahon regarding the use of excessive force while treating patients. Id. ¶ 33. In fact, McMahon was unaware of two relevant company policies: the Scene Control Policy, which set forth how the paramedic team should control a potentially violent patient, and the Self-Protection Policy, which directed paramedics to refrain from entering the home of a potentially dangerous patient until law enforcement could secure the scene. Id. ¶¶ 34-39. As a whole, McMahon never received any training at all from Malvern Fire or from his supervisors, including training on how to respond to violent patient situations and how to use force in restraining patients. Id. ¶¶ 40-41, 45. The aforementioned lack of training directly led to McMahon's striking Plaintiff in the head on the date in question. Id. ¶¶ 51-52.

         Plaintiff alleges that the subject incident was not the first time that Malvern Fire's medical personnel had been involved in dangerous interactions with her in her home. Specifically, Plaintiff avers that such interactions took place “on numerous occasions in the six (6) months leading up to the December 10, 2013 incident” and states that these “repeated interactions with [Plaintiff] prior to December 10, 2013 involved identical and unsettling behavior by and between [Plaintiff] and the Malvern Fire Company emergency personnel.” Id. ¶¶ 82, 86.

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On December 4, 2015, Plaintiff filed suit against the Borough of Malvern, McMahon, and Malvern Fire, alleging in Count I excessive force in violation of Section 1983 against McMahon, in Count II policymaker and/or supervisory liability in violation of Section 1983 against the Borough of Malvern and Malvern Fire, and in Count III supplemental state law claims of unlawful seizure, negligence, gross negligence, assault, and battery against McMahon. (ECF No. 1). On January 7, 2016, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint alleging the same claims against the same defendants (ECF No. 9), to which all defendants responded with motions to dismiss. (ECF Nos. 10, 12, 15). Judge Dalzell granted the motion of each defendant without prejudice to Plaintiff refiling. (ECF No. 24). On April 21, 2016, Plaintiff filed her Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”), again bringing the same three counts contained in the two prior iterations of her complaint. (ECF No. 29). After considering the SAC as well as the parties' various responses and replies, Judge Dalzell denied McMahon's motion but granted those of the Borough of Malvern and Malvern Fire, and dismissed Count II with prejudice. (ECF No. 41).

         On November 2, 2016, the case was re-assigned to the undersigned for all further proceedings. (ECF No. 52). On December 1, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Rule 60 motion in which she sought leave to file a third amended complaint based on newly discovered evidence. (ECF No. 55). This Court granted the motion on December 22, 2016 (ECF No. 59), and Plaintiff thereafter filed her TAC, which contains the following Counts:

Count I: Excessive force in violation of Section 1983 against McMahon;
Count II: Policymaker and/or supervisory liability in violation of Section 1983 against Malvern Fire;
Count III: Supplemental state law claims of unlawful seizure, negligence, gross negligence, assault, and battery against McMahon. (ECF No. 60).

         Before the Court are McMahon's motion to strike the TAC (ECF No. 62), and the Malvern Fire Company's motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, to strike the TAC (ECF No. 63). Plaintiff responded to both motions on January 25, 2017 (ECF Nos. 64, 65) and Malvern Fire replied on February 1, 2017 (ECF No. 66).

         III. ...


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