United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
J. PAPPERT, J.
Quintana was arrested and later charged with attempted
murder, rape and other offenses. After his acquittal on all
charges, Quintana sued the City of Philadelphia, the
Philadelphia Police Department, the Philadelphia District
Attorney's Office and eighteen individuals including
officers, detectives and assistant district attorneys,
asserting claims related to his arrest and prosecution under
42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, 1985 and state law.
gravamen of Quintana's allegations seems straightforward
enough: he was arrested, charged and prosecuted for crimes he
did not commit, with those responsible for doing this to him
ignoring purported evidence of his innocence to cover up for
their own mistakes in an unrelated investigation. This
alleged narrative becomes confused and sometimes lost
entirely in an overreaching, duplicative, overlapping and at
times inherently contradictory pleading. The Defendants have
filed two separate motions to dismiss Quintana's Amended
Complaint. For the following reasons, the Court grants the
Defendants' motions and gives Quintana leave to amend
some of his claims.
Patterson was attacked on November 28, 2010 at approximately
10:45 p.m. on the 1900 block of Backius street in
Philadelphia. (Am. Compl. ¶ 35, ECF No. 8.)
Patterson's attacker grabbed her, put a box cutter
against her neck and then attempted to rape her.
(Id.) Patterson fought back and the attacker fled
the scene. (Id.) Defendant police officers John Cole
and Timothy Miller responded to a radio call to aid Patterson
and then relayed information about the attack over police
radio. (Id. ¶ 36.)
minutes later, Quintana was walking on the 2000 block of
Wheatsheaf lane (about a mile away from 1900 Backius) when
Defendant police officers Jeffrey Schmidt and Sean Matrascez
stopped him and asked for his identification. (Id.
¶ 33.) The officers, who had not yet received word of
the Patterson attack, permitted Quintana to leave.
(Id. ¶¶ 33 & 37.)
next morning, Defendant detective Phillip Nardo interviewed
Patterson. (Id. ¶ 40.) Nardo had been working
on two other rape/murder investigations. (Id.) At
the time, a so called “Kensington Strangler”-an
individual police believed was responsible for a number of
rapes and murders in the Kensington neighborhood of
Philadelphia-was on the loose. (Id. ¶ 32.)
During the interview, Detective Nardo showed Patterson a
department of motor vehicles photograph of
Quintana. (Id. ¶ 40.) Patterson
positively identified Quintana as her attacker. (Id.
¶ 41.) According to the Amended Complaint, it was at
this time that the police believed Quintana was the
Kensington Strangler and accordingly distributed his
information online. (Id. ¶ 42.)
Nardo, with approval from Assistant District Attorney
Jennifer Mitrick, then prepared an affidavit of probable
cause regarding Quintana's attempted
homicide. (Id. ¶ 43.) Later that day,
Quintana was brought into the homicide unit for questioning
by Defendant detectives Bambrusky and Williams. (Id.
¶ 44.) Officers Cole and Miller then arrested
Quintana. (Id. ¶ 45.) Quintana, unable
to make bail, would remain incarcerated until he was
acquitted at trial on September 30, 2014. (Id.
point, Defendant detective McGoldrick interviewed Patterson.
(Id. ¶¶ 50-51.) Patterson described her
attacker as being a thirty-five-year-old, Puerto Rican male,
who was five-foot-eleven-inches tall, with a medium build,
light skin, and a goatee, who wore dark blue jeans, a gray
hoodie and a yellow jacket. (Id. ¶ 51.)
According to the Amended Complaint, however, Quintana is only
five-feet-six-inches tall and 154 pounds. (Id.
¶ 59.) The Amended Complaint alleges that “by this
point, ” Defendants Nardo, Bambrusky and Williams had
provided Patterson with Quintana's “description and
particulars” so that Patterson would repeat it to other
police and detectives and could ultimately testify that
Quintana was her attacker. (Id. ¶ 52.) The
Amended Complaint also alleges that Patterson's statement
was “approved by” Defendants Lieutenant Anthony
Mirabella, Jr. and Sergeant John Morton “for the arrest
alleges that Defendant detectives knew Quintana was not the
Kensington Strangler, but falsely charged him with the
attempted murder and rape of Patterson anyway. (Id.
¶ 53.) Mitrick, McGoldrick, Mirabella and Morton
approved charging Quintana. (Id. ¶¶ 53,
Amended Complaint next alleges that on December 1, 2010,
Quintana was “fingerprinted, photographed and charged
with three murders as the ‘Kensington
Strangler.'” (Id. ¶ 63.) Despite this,
“at no point in time” was Quintana prosecuted in
court for murder. (Id. ¶ 64.) Patterson later
failed to identify Quintana at a prison line-up, (Id.
¶ 65), something Defendants rationalized by
claiming (without explanation) that Quintana had attempted to
change his appearance. (Id. ¶¶ 66-67.)
January 17, 2011, police arrested Antonio Rodriguez, a new
suspect in the Kensington Strangler case. (Id.
¶ 68-69.) Despite this, Quintana alleges that Defendants
in the District Attorney's Office did not produce any of
the initial discovery that had led them to believe he was the
Kensington Strangler. (Id. ¶ 68.) The police
confirmed that Rodriguez was the real Kensington Strangler
via DNA testing shortly after January 17, 2011. (Id.
¶ 71.) Defendants did not withdraw Quintana's
charges-he remained in custody for the attempted rape and
murder of Rachel Patterson. (Id. ¶ 70.)
February 23, 2011, Quintana learned that the charges against
him had changed: he was now charged with, among other crimes,
attempted murder, aggravated assault, attempted rape, and
unlawful restraint. (Id. ¶ 73.) The state
parole board also placed a detainer on Quintana, who had been
out on parole in an unrelated matter prior to his arrest for
attacking Patterson. (Id. ¶ 74.) On May 24,
2011, Quintana's bail was lowered to “ROR, ”
but he remained incarcerated because of the state parole
board's detainer. (Id. ¶ 75.) Quintana was
acquitted of all charges at trial on September 30, 2014.
(Id. ¶¶ 62, 94.)
Amended Complaint alleges that after Defendants falsely
arrested Quintana, they conspired to convict him for
attacking Patterson in order to cover up their false arrest
and malicious prosecution. (Id. ¶ 79.)
Specifically, Defendants ignored “ample evidence”
supplied to them by Quintana's defense attorney that
exonerated Quintana. (Id. ¶¶ 80, 82, 83,
84.) Defendants also allegedly conspired to present testimony
at Quintana's preliminary hearing and trial about
Quintana's physical appearance matching Patterson's
description when they knew this information was false.
(Id. ¶¶ 92-93.)
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)).
asserts sixteen disparate counts against numerous individuals
and entities. The Amended Complaint, however, asserts
duplicative claims sounding in false arrest, false
imprisonment, malicious prosecution and equal protection
violations brought under federal law (specifically, under 42
U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983 and 1985) and Pennsylvania law
(both state constitutional claims and state tort claims)
against all Defendants.
initial matter, City departments cannot be sued separately
from the City of Philadelphia itself. See 53 P.S.
§ 16257; Lee v. Abellos, No. 13-0486, 2014 WL
7271363, at *1 n.2 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 19, 2014);
Costobile-Fulginiti v. City of Philadelphia, 719
F.Supp.2d 521, 525 (E.D. Pa. 2010). Instead, plaintiffs must
sue the City directly. Article III, section 3-100 of
Philadelphia's Home Rule Charter establishes the
“offices, departments, boards, commissions, and
agencies.” The Police Department is listed among the
departments; Quintana cannot separately sue the Department.
See Phila., Pa, Charter Art. III, ch. 1 §
3-100(d) (2016); see also Butler v. City of
Philadelphia, No. 12-1955, 2012 WL 1605759, at *3 (E.D.
Pa. May 4, 2012); Sorrentio v. City of
Philadelphia, No. 96-6604, 1997 WL 597990, at *3
(E.D. Pa. Sept. 16, 1997) (collecting cases).
District Attorney's Office, however, is
“technically not a department of the City, but
is a separate entity created by state law.”
Sourovelis v. City of Philadelphia, 103 F.Supp.3d
694, 710 (E.D. Pa. 2015) (Robreno, J.) (citing 16 P.S.
§§ 7701-42)); but see Estate of Tyler ex rel.
Floyd v. Grossman, 108 F.Supp.3d 279, 288 (E.D. Pa.
2015). Quintana may sue the District Attorney's Office in
addition to the City, something the District Attorney's
Office does not contest.
individual district attorney Defendants-Seth Williams, Erin
O'Brien, Rochelle Keyhan, Tiffany Oldfield and Jennifer
Mitrick-contend that they are entitled to absolute immunity.
The Court agrees and, with two small ...