United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
BARCLAY SURRICK, J.
before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. (ECF
No. 3.) For the following reasons, the Motion will be granted
in part and denied in part.
Jermaine Williams, a former prisoner at the State
Correctional Institute at Graterford, Pennsylvania, brings
the instant action against Defendants alleging that
Defendants violated his constitutional rights, and seeks
relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
November 14, 2016, Plaintiff was being transported from
Graterford to the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. (Compl. ¶ 3, ECF No. 1.) Defendants Deputy
Sheriff Lopez and Deputy Sheriff Valasco were responsible for
transporting Plaintiff and several other inmates to the
Criminal Justice Center. (Id.) At the time of
transportation, Plaintiff was in a wheelchair. (Id.
¶¶ 7-8.) Some of the other inmates being
transported were also in wheelchairs. (Id. ¶
14.) All of the inmates, including Plaintiff, were shackled
and handcuffed during the entire trip. (Id. ¶
9.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants did not secure
Plaintiff's wheelchair, or the wheelchairs of any of the
other inmates, inside the van. (Id. ¶ 7.)
Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants did not secure
Plaintiff or any of the other inmates with a seatbelt or any
other safety apparatus. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that
the inmates “complained to the [Defendants] about the
unsafe situation they were in.” (Id. ¶
10.) Defendants ignored these complaints. (Id.
Valasco then began to drive the van to the Criminal Justice
Center. (Id. ¶ 6.) Plaintiff alleges that
Valasco was driving too fast, and that the inmates asked
Valasco to slow down on multiple occasions. (Id.
¶¶ 12, 16.) Several inmates began to “sway
side to side and back and forth” during the trip.
(Id. ¶ 10.) Plaintiff alleges that his
wheelchair began to lift off the floor of the van.
(Id. ¶ 11.) The inmates complained to
Defendants that their wheelchairs were sliding back and forth
inside of the van; however, Defendants' only response was
“don't come to jail.” (Id.
¶¶ 13, 14.) Valasco sped around a curve on the east
side of Philadelphia City hall too fast, and had to abruptly
“slam on the brakes” in order to gain control of
the van. (Id. ¶ 16.) When the van stopped
abruptly, Plaintiff was “thrown out of his wheelchair
head first into the metal grate of the van.”
(Id. ¶ 17.) Several other inmates were
simultaneously thrown out of their seats. (Id.
¶ 16.) Plaintiff was thrown upside down in the van, and
two of the other inmates were thrown on top of him.
(Id. ¶ 17.) Plaintiff suffered severe injuries
including a concussion, chest injuries, and an injury to his
spine at the cervical and lumbar levels. (Id. ¶
filed the Complaint in this Court on June 15, 2017. Plaintiff
asserts both federal and state law violations in his
Complaint. With regard to the federal claim, Plaintiff
alleges that Defendants violated his constitutional rights
under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 (Count I). With regard to the state law
claim, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants negligently operated
a Pennsylvania motor vehicle, in violation of 42 Pa. Cons.
Stat. Ann. § 8542 (Count II). On July 24, 2017,
Defendants filed the instant Motion to Dismiss. (Defs.'
MTD, ECF No. 3.) Defendants' Motion seeks dismissal of
Plaintiff's federal claim (Count I), and remand the case
to state court in order to address Plaintiff's state law
claim. On August 16, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Memorandum in
Opposition to Defendants' Motion. (Pl.'s Opp., ECF
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), “[a] pleading
that states a claim for relief must contain a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” Rule 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of
a complaint, in whole or in part, for failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted. A motion under Rule
12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint against the
pleading requirements of Rule 8(a). “To survive a
motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
is plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Id. A complaint that merely alleges entitlement to
relief, without alleging facts that show entitlement, must be
dismissed. See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d
203, 211 (3d Cir. 2009). Courts need not accept
“[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements . . .
.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “While legal
conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they
must be supported by factual allegations.” Id.
at 679. This ‘“does not impose a probability
requirement at the pleading stage, ' but instead
‘simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable
expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' the
necessary element.” Phillips v. Cty. of
Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
determining whether dismissal of the complaint is
appropriate, courts use a two-part analysis. Fowler,
578 F.3d at 210. First, courts separate the factual and legal
elements of the claim and accept all of the complaint's
well-pleaded facts as true. Id. at 210-11. Next,
courts determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint
are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a
“‘plausible claim for relief.'”
Id. at 211 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
679). Given the nature of the two-part analysis,
“‘[d]etermining whether a complaint states a
plausible claim for relief will . . . be a context-specific
task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its
judicial experience and common sense.'”
McTernan v. City of York, 577 F.3d 521, 530 (3d Cir.
2009) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).
“a complaint need not establish a prima facie case in
order to survive a motion to dismiss.” Connelly v.
Lane Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 788-89 (3d Cir. 2016).
A prima facie case is “an evidentiary standard, not a
pleading requirement.” Swierkiewicz v. Sorema,
N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 510 (2002). It therefore is
“not a proper measure of whether a complaint fails to
state a claim.” Fowler, 578 F.3d at 213.
“Instead of requiring a prima facie case, the
post-Twombly pleading standard ‘simply calls
for enough facts to raise a ...