Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Williams v. City of Philadelphia Office of Sheriff

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

August 22, 2017



          R. BARCLAY SURRICK, J.

         Presently 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.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff 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.[1]

         A. Factual Background

         On 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. ¶ 15.)

         Defendant 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. ¶ 22.)

         B. Procedural History

         Plaintiff 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 No. 6.)


         Under 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 (2007)).

         A claim 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).

         In 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).

         Finally, “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 ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.