United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
J. PAPPERT, J.
Lopez, a pro se inmate, sued the City of
Philadelphia, former Philadelphia Prison System Commissioner
Louis Giorla, Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility Warden
John Delaney, Deputy Warden Clyde Gainey, Deputy Warden
Gerald May, Deputy Warden Frederick Abellos, and the Deputy
Warden of Administration. He alleges the Defendants violated
his constitutional rights by housing him in a three-person
cell that was designed for two people. The Defendants filed a
motion to dismiss Lopez's Amended Complaint. The Court
denies the motion.
was arrested in Philadelphia and placed in the custody of the
Philadelphia Prison System on May 31, 2008. (Am. Compl.
¶ 17, ECF No. 6.) He remained at the Curran-Fromhold
Correctional Facility (“CFCF”) until November of
2012, when he was transferred to a commonwealth prison.
(Id.) Through almost his entire time at CFCF, Lopez
was housed in over-crowded cells. He was frequently housed
with two other inmates in a cell designed for two people, an
arrangement known as “triple-celling.”
(Id.) In those cells, Lopez was forced to sleep on a
“boat”-a plastic tray used as a bed-near the
cell's toilet. (Id.) Lopez was also housed in a
windowless multipurpose room with four other inmates for
seven consecutive months of his stay at CFCF. (Id.
¶¶ 18, 25.) He was moved to non-overcrowded cells
only “once-in-a-while, ” something he contends
was done merely to create “the illusion of not being
housed illegally.” (Id. 18.) Lopez was also
“locked down” in his cell for weeks at a time due
to understaffing at CFCF. (Id. ¶ 22.) Because
of the chronic overcrowding at the prison, Lopez was unable
to shower for up to a week at a time. (Id.
¶¶ 22, 34.) The combined effect of these conditions
was to exacerbate Lopez's existing seizures and
depression. (Id. ¶ 28.)
City, Giorla, Delaney, Gainey, May and Abellos moved to
dismiss Lopez's claims on February 10, 2015. (ECF No.
10.) Lopez filed his response on March 11, 2015. (ECF No.
12.) The case was initially before Judge Shapiro, who
referred Lopez to the Court's prisoner civil rights panel
for possible appointment of counsel and placed the case in
suspense pending the panel's decision. (ECF No. 13.) The
case was then transferred twice: first to Judge Goldberg on
August 1, 2016, (ECF No. 17), and again to this Court on
December 12, 2016, (ECF No. 18). The case was removed from
suspense on March 16, 2017. (ECF No. 19.)
survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint
must provide “more than labels and conclusions”
or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause
of action.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citation omitted). “Factual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level on the assumption that all the
allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in
fact).” Id. (citation omitted). While a
complaint need not include detailed facts, it must provide
“more than an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
and Iqbal require the Court to take three steps to
determine whether the second amended complaint will survive
Defendants' motion to dismiss. See Connelly v. Lane
Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 2016). First,
it must “take note of the elements the plaintiff must
plead to state a claim.” Id. (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675). Next, it must identify the
allegations that are no more than legal conclusions and thus
“not entitled to the assumption of truth.”
Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).
Finally, where the complaint includes well-pleaded factual
allegations, the Court “should assume their veracity
and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an
entitlement to relief.” Id. (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).
“presumption of truth attaches only to those
allegations for which there is sufficient factual matter to
render them plausible on their face.” Schuchardt v.
President of the United States, 839 F.3d 336, 347 (3d
Cir. 2016) (internal quotation and citation omitted).
“Conclusory assertions of fact and legal conclusions
are not entitled to the same presumption.” Id.
This plausibility determination is a “context-specific
task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its
judicial experience and common sense.” Id.
(quoting Connelly, 809 F.3d at 786-87).
plausibility standard, however, “does not impose a
heightened pleading requirement” and does not require a
plaintiff to plead specific facts. Id. In other
words, “courts cannot inject evidentiary issues into
the plausibility determination.” Id. The Third
Circuit has also made it clear that “at least for
purposes of pleading sufficiency, a complaint need not
establish a prima facie case in order to survive a
motion to dismiss” because a “prima facie case is
an evidentiary standard, not a pleading requirement and hence
is not proper measure of whether a complaint fails to state a
claim.” Connelly, 809 F.3d at 789 (internal
quotations and citations omitted). Instead, a plaintiff
should plead “enough facts to raise a reasonable
expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the
necessary elements.” Id. (quoting Phillips
v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008)).
because Lopez filed his complaint pro se, the Court
“must liberally construe his pleadings.”
Dluhos v. Strasberg, 321 F.3d 365, 369 (3d Cir.
2003) (citation omitted); see also Haines v. Kerner,
404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (holding pro se complaints
to “less stringent standards than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers”). “Courts are to construe
complaints so ‘as to do substantial justice, '
keeping in mind that pro se complaints in particular
should be construed liberally.” Bush v. City of
Philadelphia, 367 F.Supp.2d 722, 725 (E.D. Pa. 2005)
(quoting Alston v. Parker, 363 F.3d 229, 234 (3d
asserts claims under § 1983 for violations of the First,
Fifth, Eighth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments. (Am. Compl.
¶ 15.) To state a claim under § 1983, Lopez must
allege that a person acting under color of law deprived him
of a federal right. See Groman v. Twp. of Manalapan,
47 F.3d 628, 633 (3d Cir. 1995). He must also allege that the
person acting under color of law “intentionally”
violated his constitutional rights or acted
“deliberately indifferent” to those rights.
See, e.g., County of Sacramento v. Lewis,
523 U.S. 833, 843-44 (1998); Brower v. County of
Inyo, 489 U.S. 593, 596 (1989) (citing Hill v.
California, 401 U.S. 797, 802-05 (1971)); see also
Berg v. County of Allegheny, 219 F.3d 261, 269 (3d Cir.
Defendants move to dismiss on two grounds. They argue that
Lopez's municipal liability claim against the City merely
restates the elements of Monell liability and
therefore must be dismissed. They also contend that Lopez
inadequately alleges ...