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Nelson v. City of Philadelphia

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

August 29, 2017

WAYNE NELSON
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, DET. MILES #8060, and DET. MACCLAIN #8094

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Savage, J.

         In his pro se complaint, Wayne Nelson asserts claims for malicious prosecution, false arrest and imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress arising out of his arrest, subsequent imprisonment, and prosecution, which ultimately resulted in a not guilty verdict. Moving to dismiss, the defendants City of Philadelphia, Detective James Miles, and Detective Glenn MacClain contend that Nelson has failed to state claims that they deprived him of his civil rights. The City argues that Nelson has not alleged a policy or custom which resulted in violations of his constitutional rights. The individual defendants contend Nelson has failed to allege their personal involvement in wrongful conduct.

         The defendants are correct. Therefore, we shall grant the motion to dismiss with leave to amend the complaint.

         Background[1]

         As recited in the complaint, in the late morning of April 28, 2015, Detective Timothy Cliggett and members of the Fugitive Task Force arrested Nelson. They transported him to the Philadelphia Police Department's 25th District. He was charged with attempted murder and related offenses in connection with an incident which had occurred on April 4, 2015.

         At his arraignment, Nelson's bail was set at one million dollars. Unable to post bail, he remained in jail for over a year until he was released on June 1, 2016 after he was found not guilty.

         On April 28, 2017, two years after his arrest, Nelson filed this action claiming a violation of his civil rights. He asserts three claims: malicious prosecution (Count I), false imprisonment and false arrest (Count II), and intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count III).

         Although Nelson alleges that it was Cliggett who arrested him, he does not name him as a defendant. Instead, he asserts claims against the City of Philadelphia and Detectives James Miles and Glenn MacClain, two police officers in the Philadelphia Police Department's 25th District, to whom he attributes no misconduct.[2]

         Standard of Review

         Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a court may dismiss all or part of an action for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The complaint must plead “factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)). The plaintiff must allege facts that indicate “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. Pleading only “facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability” is insufficient and cannot survive a motion to dismiss. Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

         A conclusory recitation of the elements of a cause of action is not sufficient. The plaintiff must allege facts necessary to make out each element. In other words, the complaint must contain facts which, if proven later, support a conclusion that the cause of action can be established.

         In assessing the sufficiency of a complaint, a court engages in a three-part sequential analysis. The court must: (1) identify the elements of the causes of action; (2) disregard conclusory statements, leaving only factual allegations; and (3) assuming the truth of those factual allegations, determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief. Burtch v. Millberg Factors, Inc., 662 F.3d 212, 221 (3d Cir. 2011) (quoting Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 130 (3d Cir. 2010)).

         Additionally, the pro se plaintiff's pleadings are considered deferentially, affording him the benefit of the doubt where one exists. Mala v. Crown Bay Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 244 (3d Cir. 2013) (citing Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011)). With these standards in mind, we shall accept as true the facts as they ...


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