United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
E.K. PRATTER United States District Judge
LeBeau brings this action against (i) Delaware County Adult
Probation and Parole (“DCAPP”), Leanne
Montgomery, Michael Raith, Danielle Hibberd, and Christine
Katch (the “Probation Defendants”), and (ii)
Community Education Centers, Inc. (“CEC”), George
W. Hill Correctional Facility (“GWHCF”),
James Mattera, and Ms. Cummings (the “Prison
Defendants”). Ms. LeBeau alleges violations of federal
and state law arising out of her arrest and detention in
connection with a bench warrant. Ms. LeBeau alleges that the
bench warrant was issued because Ms. Montgomery improperly
reported that Ms. LeBeau was not in compliance with the
conditions of her probation. Ms. LeBeau asserts (i) Fourth,
Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment claims against all
defendants, (ii) a Monell claim against DCAPP and
CEC, (iii) a state law claim for false imprisonment against
all defendants, (iv) a state law claim for false arrest
against the Probation Defendants, (v) a state law claim for
negligence against the Prison Defendants, and (vi) a state
law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress
against the Prison Defendants. The Probation and Prison
Defendants moved to dismiss the claims against them. For the
reasons that follow, the Probation Defendants' motion is
granted in part and denied in part and the Prison
Defendants' motion is granted in its entirety.
Allegations in the Complaint
LeBeau entered into a guilty plea in August 2013 in
connection with a DUI charge. A condition of Ms. LeBeau's
guilty plea was to complete a drug and alcohol counseling
evaluation. While Ms. LeBeau completed the evaluation and
submitted the certificate of completion in a timely manner to
Ms. Montgomery, her probation officer, Ms. Montgomery
purposefully failed to record Ms. LeBeau's completion of
the drug and alcohol counseling evaluation. Ms. Montgomery
then “wrongly and with malice reported . . . that [Ms.
LeBeau] was out of compliance with the conditions of her
probation.” Compl. ¶ 24 (Doc. No. 1). This
resulted in a bench warrant being issued for Ms. LeBeau's
arrest. Ms. LeBeau was not aware of the bench warrant's
January 15, 2015, Ms. LeBeau was arrested in Delaware County
during a routine traffic stop as a result of the outstanding
bench warrant. Following the arrest, Ms. LeBeau was taken
into custody on a 72-hour warrant and detained at GWHCF. Ms.
LeBeau was not permitted a phone call,  allowed any
visitors, or given the opportunity to speak with a judge.
Prison personnel did not inform Ms. LeBeau that an
outstanding bench warrant was the basis for her arrest and
detention until after Ms. LeBeau had already been detained
for several days. Ms. LeBeau repeatedly complained to prison
personnel that her detention was in error, but prison
personnel took no immediate action to investigate Ms.
LeBeau's complaints. Ms. LeBeau was only able to speak
with a case manager after “many days” of
complaints. After speaking with a case manager, Ms. LeBeau
was permitted to call her probation officer. Ms. LeBeau was
released after speaking with her probation officer. Ms.
LeBeau's detention lasted for 8 days.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) authorizes testing the legal
sufficiency of a complaint. Although Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 8 requires only “a short and plain statement
of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,
” in order to “give the defendant fair notice of
what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests,
” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
555 (2007) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted)
(alteration in original), the plaintiff must provide
“more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
do.” Id. (citation omitted).
survive a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must plead
“factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Specifically, “[f]actual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level . . . .” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). The question is not whether
the claimant will ultimately prevail, but whether the
complaint is “sufficient to cross the federal
court's threshold.” Skinner v. Switzer,
562 U.S. 521, 529-30 (2011).
decide a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court may look
only to the facts alleged in the complaint and its
attachments. See Jordan v. Fox, Rothschild, O'Brien
& Frankel, 20 F.3d 1250, 1261 (3d Cir. 1994). The
Court may also consider documents that are “integral to
or explicitly relied upon in the complaint . . . without
converting the motion [to dismiss] into one for summary
judgment.” In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec.
Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997) (citation
omitted). The Court must accept as true all well-pleaded
allegations in the complaint and view them in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff. Angelastro v.
Prudential-Bache Sec., Inc., 764 F.2d 939, 944 (3d Cir.
1985). Likewise, the Court must accept as true all reasonable
inferences that may be drawn from the allegations, and view
those facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party. See Rocks v. City of Phila., 868
F.2d 644, 645 (3d Cir. 1989).
a district court can grant a motion to dismiss pursuant to
Rule 12(b)(1) based on the legal insufficiency of the claim.
Kalick v. United States, 604 F. App'x. 108, 111
(3d Cir. 2015). In moving to dismiss a claim pursuant to Rule
12(b)(1), a party may challenge a court's jurisdiction
either facially (based on the legal sufficiency of the claim)
or factually (based on the sufficiency of jurisdictional
fact). Endl v. New Jersey, 5 F.Supp.3d 689, 695-96
(D.N.J. 2014). Dismissal under a facial challenge is proper
“only when the claim clearly appears to be immaterial
and made solely for the purpose of obtaining jurisdiction . .
. or is wholly insubstantial and frivolous.”
Medtronic Vascular, Inc. v. Boston Sci. Corp, 348
F.Supp.2d 316, 321 (D. Del. 2004) (internal quotation marks
omitted). In this circumstance, a court must accept as true
all of the allegations contained in the complaint.
subject matter jurisdiction “in fact” is
challenged, the trial court's very power to hear the case
is at issue, and the court is therefore “free to weigh
the evidence and satisfy itself as to the power to hear the
case.” Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan
Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977). In such an
attack pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), “no presumptive
truthfulness attaches to plaintiff's allegations, and the
existence of disputed material facts will not preclude the
trial court from evaluating for itself the merits of
jurisdictional claims.” Carpet Group Int'l v.
Oriental Rug Importers Ass'n, Inc., 227 F.3d 62, 69
(3d Cir. 2000). Where a defendant attacks a court's
factual basis for exercising subject matter jurisdiction, the
plaintiff must meet the burden of proving that jurisdiction
is appropriate. Id.
Claims Against DCAPP
LeBeau's claims against DCAPP fail on Eleventh Amendment
immunity grounds. The Eleventh Amendment prohibits suits
against states and state agencies and departments.
Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465
U.S. 89, 100 (1984). Non-consenting states are immune from
suit both from their own citizens and citizens of other
states. Emps. of Dep't of Public Health &
Welfare, Mo. v. Dep't of Public Health & Welfare,
Mo., 411 U.S. 279, 280 (1973). Probation and parole
departments are state entities for Eleventh Amendment
immunity purposes. Haybarger v. Lawrence Cty. Adult
Probation & Parole, 551 F.3d 193, 198 (3d Cir.
2008); Benn v. First Judicial Dist. of Pa., 426 F.3d
233, 241 (3d Cir. 2005).
Amendment immunity “deprives federal courts of subject
matter jurisdiction.” Blanciak v. Allegheny Ludlum
Corp., 77 F.3d 690, 693 n.2 (3d Cir. 1996). There are
three primary exceptions to Eleventh Amendment immunity: (i)
congressional abrogation, (ii) waiver by the state, and (iii)
suits against individual state officials for prospective
injunctive and declaratory relief. Pa. Fed'n of
Sportsmen's Clubs, Inc. v. Hess, 297 F.3d 310, 323
(3d Cir. 2002). None of these exceptions are applicable here.
§ 1983 does not abrogate states' Eleventh Amendment
immunity. Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police,
491 U.S. 58, 76 (1989); Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S.
332, 345 (1979). Second, Pennsylvania has not waived its
right to rely on Eleventh Amendment immunity. See 1
Pa.C.S. 2310; 42 Pa.C.S. 8522(b). Last, this suit does not
seek prospective injunctive and declaratory relief.
Accordingly, the Court must dismiss with prejudice all claims
against DCAPP pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction. See Ward v. Pa., No.
14-17, 2014 WL 4682067, at *4 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 22, 2014)
(dismissing federal law claims against DCAPP on Eleventh
Immunity grounds for lack of subject matter jurisdiction).
Official Capacity Claims Against the Individual Probation
Amendment immunity extends to official capacity suits for
damages against probation and parole department employees.
J.C. v. Ford, --- F. App'x ---, 2016 WL 7422700,
at *1 (3d Cir. Dec. 23, 2016); see also 1 Pa.C.S.
2310. Accordingly, the Court must dismiss with prejudice all
official capacity claims against Defendants Raith, Hibberd,
Katch, and Montgomery for the reasons stated above.
Section 1983 Claims Against the Individual Defendants in
their Individual Capacities
1983 affords individuals with a remedy when state actors
violate their federally protected rights. See Kopec v.
Tate, 361 F.3d 772, 775-76 (3d Cir. 2004). In order to
make out a cognizable § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must
establish “that a person acting under color of law
deprived him of a federal right.” Berg v. Cty. of
Allegheny, 219 F.3d 261, 268 (3d Cir. 2000). In order to
sustain a § 1983 claim against an individual acting
under the color of state law, a plaintiff must demonstrate
that the defendant was personally involved in the alleged
violations of his or her federal rights. Rode v.
Dellarciprete, 845 F.2d 1195, 1207 (3d Cir. 1988).
“Personal involvement can be shown through allegations
of personal direction or of actual knowledge and
acquiescence.” Id. Ms. LeBeau argues that Ms.
Montgomery caused her unconstitutional arrest and detention
by improperly reporting that Ms. LeBeau was not in compliance
with her guilty plea agreement. The complaint does not
contain any allegations that are specific to Defendants
Raith, Hibberd, Katch, Cummings, or Mattera.
Claims Against Ms. Montgomery
Fourth Amendment False Arrest/Imprisonment Claim
1983 claims for false arrest implicate the Fourth
Amendment's guarantee against unreasonable searches and
seizures. Berg, 219 F.3d at 269. A § 1983 false
imprisonment claim similarly implicates the Fourth Amendment
when it “is based on an arrest made without probable
cause.” Groman v. Twp. of Manalapan, 47 F.3d
628, 636 (3d Cir. 1995). Accordingly, the Court will
interpret Ms. LeBeau's § 1983 false arrest and
imprisonment claims against Ms. Montgomery as arising under
the Fourth Amendment.
prevail on a Fourth Amendment false arrest claim, a plaintiff
must demonstrate that he or she was arrested without probable
cause. Berg, 219 F.3d at 269. A warrant issued
without proper justification cannot provide probable cause
for an arrest. Id. at 269-70. A government official
that causes an individual's arrest without probable cause
is as liable for a Fourth Amendment violation as the
government official who carries out the arrest. Id.
at 272. “It is thus clear that § 1983 liability
for an unlawful arrest can extend beyond the arresting
officer to other officials whose intentional actions set the
arresting officer in motion.” Id.
Montgomery argues that Ms. LeBeau has failed to state a
viable Fourth Amendment claim against her because there is no
allegation that Ms. Montgomery (i) actually arrested Ms.
LeBeau, (ii) actually requested the bench warrant, or (iii)
acted intentionally. Alternatively, Ms. Montgomery asserts
that she is entitled to qualified immunity.
the complaint in the light most favorable to Ms. LeBeau, the
Court finds that Ms. LeBeau has stated a plausible Fourth
Amendment claim against Ms. Montgomery for causing her
unlawful arrest and detention. Ms. LeBeau alleges that (i)
she submitted the drug and alcohol evaluation completion
certificate to Ms. Montgomery in satisfaction of the
requirements of her guilty plea agreement, (ii) Ms.
Montgomery willfully refused to record receipt of the
certificate, (iii) Ms. Montgomery maliciously reported that
Ms. LeBeau was not in compliance with the conditions of her
probation, and (iv) Ms. Montgomery's actions caused her
unlawful arrest and detention. These allegations are
sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss. See Johnson v.
City of Phila., No. 13-2963, 2013 WL 4014565, at *4
(E.D. Pa. Aug. 7, 2013) (finding that an allegation that a
police officer intentionally sought a bench warrant
unsupported by probable cause adequately pleaded a Fourth
Amendment violation); Duffy v. Cty. of Bucks, 7
F.Supp.2d 569, 579 (E.D. ...