United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM ORDER RE: DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO
DISMISS (DOC. NO. 57 AND DOC. NO.
J. Schwab, United States District Judge
Introduction and Procedural History
this litigation, pro se Plaintiff Jean Coulter
(“Plaintiff” or “Coulter”) has spent
considerable time and effort complaining about the
Court's case management practices. See e.g. Doc. No.
25 (Motion for Recusal), Doc. No. 35 (Renewed
Motion for Recusal). Instead of focusing on the well-founded
arguments within the Defendants' Motions to Dismiss her
Amended Complaint, (doc. no. 57 and doc. no.
59), Plaintiff spends the first three (3) pages of her
fourteen (14) page response to both Motions complaining that
she was not given sufficient time to respond to
Defendants' Motions, despite never seeking an extension
of time to file from the Court. Doc. No. 66, pp.
initiated this action by filing a Complaint against
Defendants on February 1, 2016. Doc. No. 1. After
Defendants filed Motions to Dismiss (doc. nos. 10 and 17),
Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint alleging that Defendants
(1) breached a contract or an implied contract to repay a
$50, 000.00 loan Plaintiff made to Defendant Paul Laurence
Dunbar Community Center (the “Dunbar Center”) in
July 2013; (2) were negligent in the management of the Dunbar
Center; (3) fraudulently induced Plaintiff into providing the
loan; and (4) engaged in fraud and a civil conspiracy in the
failure to repay the loan to Plaintiff. Doc. No. 29
and Doc. No. 50-1 (United States Court of Appeals
Opinion finding that a liberal interpretation of
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint includes a claim for
fraudulent inducement). The Dunbar Center entered a Notice of
Offer of Judgment in the amount of “$59, 000.00
inclusive of interest, if any, plus costs accrued to the date
of th[e] offer” on February 29, 2016 - - more than the
full amount of the loan at issue as stated in the Amended
Complaint. Doc. No. 2.
March 29, 2016, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss the
Amended Complaint, which the Court granted, dismissing
Plaintiff's breach of contract claim without prejudice to
refile in a court of competent jurisdiction. Doc. No.
43. Plaintiff appealed the dismissal to the United
States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which vacated
and “remand[ed] for the District Court to consider in
the first instance whether [Plaintiff's] claims satisfied
the amount in controversy requirement [to establish diversity
jurisdiction] as of the filing of her complaint.”
Doc. No. 50-1. On May 24, 2017, this Court entered a
Text Order, finding that diversity jurisdiction was
established by the record and ordering Defendants to respond
to the Amended Complaint. Doc. No. 51.
Dunbar Center, Grace Youth and Family Foundation, Catherine
Donnelly, Heather D. Dovenspike, William M. Halle, John L.
Wise, III, Douglas Frost, Leeann Meals, Robert Pater, Matthew
Perotti, Clarice Shay, Eric Weimer, Louise Baldauf, Jennifer
Linn, Min Offstein, Lorraine J. Didomenico, and Joyce Klara
filed a renewed Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended
Complaint in its entirety, except for the breach of contract
claim asserted against the Dunbar Center. Doc. No.
57. Defendant Linn Law Group filed a Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint in its entirety. Doc.
Court has carefully considered Plaintiff's Amended
Complaint, doc. no. 29, the Defendants' Motions,
doc. nos. 57 and 59, Defendants' briefs in support, doc.
nos. 58 and 60, and Plaintiff's response, doc. no. 61.
The Court has also considered the issues raised by the Court
of Appeals specifically concerning Plaintiff's fraudulent
inducement claim. Doc. No. 51. For the reasons that follow,
the Court will GRANT both Motions to Dismiss the Amended
Complaint and the case will proceed on Plaintiff's
remaining claim for breach of contract against the Dunbar
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a Complaint must be
dismissed for “failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted.” Detailed factual pleading is
not required - Rule 8(a)(2) calls for a “short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief” - but a Complaint must set forth
sufficient factual allegations that, taken as true, set forth
a plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Complaints must be construed so
“as to do substantial justice.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(f), and pro se complaints should be construed
liberally. Alston v. Parker, 363 F.3d 229, 234 (3d
plausibility standard does not require a showing of
probability that a claim has merit, Bell Atlantic Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007), but it does
require that a pleading show “more than a sheer
possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Determining the plausibility
of an alleged claim is “a context-specific task that
requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense.” Id. at 679.
is plausible when the plaintiff alleges facts that allow the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged. Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third
Circuit instructs that a District Court must undertake three
steps to determine whether a complaint sets forth a plausible
claim for relief:
First, the court must take note of the elements a plaintiff
must plead to state a claim. Second, the court should
identify allegations that, because they are no more than
conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.
Finally, where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a
court should assume their veracity and then determine whether
they plausibly give rise to an entitlement for relief.
Connelly v. Steel Valley Sch. Dist., 706 F.3d 209,
212 (3d Cir. 2013) (citation omitted).
third step requires this Court to consider the specific
nature of the claims presented and to determine whether the
facts pled to substantiate the claims are sufficient to show
a “plausible claim for relief.” Covington v.
Int'l Ass'n of Approved Basketball Officials,
710 F.3d 114, 118 (3d Cir. 2013); see also
Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 130 (3d
reviewing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim,
the Court must view all of the allegations and facts in the
complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and
must grant the plaintiff the benefit of all reasonable
inferences that can be derived therefrom. Kanter v.
Barella, 489 F.3d 170, 177 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting
Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 350 (3d Cir.
2005)). However, the Court need not accept inferences or
conclusory allegations that are unsupported by the facts set
forth in the complaint. See Reuben v. U.S. Airways,
Inc., 500 F. App'x 103, 104 (3d Cir. 2012) (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678); Fowler v. UPMC
Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009).
“While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a
complaint, they must be supported by factual
allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 664.
Court may not dismiss a complaint merely because it appears
unlikely or improbable that Plaintiff can prove the facts
alleged or will ultimately prevail on the merits.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563 n.8. Instead, the Court
must ask whether the facts alleged raise a reasonable
expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the
necessary elements. Id. at 556. Generally speaking,
a Complaint that provides adequate facts to establish
“how, when, and where” will survive a motion to
dismiss. Fowler, 578 F.3d at 212. A motion to
dismiss should be granted if a party fails to allege facts,
which could, if established at trial, entitle him/her to
relief. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563 n.8.