United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
MARIE NOISETTE ON BEHALF OF THE ESTATE OF CARL DAVID NOISETTE Plaintiff,
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA ET AL., Defendants.
E.K. PRATTER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
under § 1983 is limited, intended to hold accountable
those who deprive others of their constitutional rights. No
one in the present case disputes that those who allegedly
deprived Mr. Noisette of his constitutional rights,
ultimately ending in his death, can be haled to court. This
Memorandum focuses on those who were not personally involved
in the alleged constitutional deprivation, but who the
plaintiff seeks to hold liable along with the direct actors.
For the reasons discussed below, the claims against these
defendants cannot stand as presently constituted, but the
plaintiff may amend the complaint in the event discovery
reveals evidence consonant with the § 1983 liability of
Noisette brings this lawsuit on behalf of her brother,
decedent Carl Noisette, who was detained at Curran-Fromhold
Correctional Facility (CFCF) when he hanged himself with a
bedsheet on May 31, 2016. He reportedly had a long history of
mental illness and had been prescribed Haldol, an
anti-psychotic medication that he was supposed to take daily
to treat his schizophrenia. Mr. Noisette's condition was
severe in the spring of 2016. He was hospitalized for
suicidal ideations just two months before he was detained in
8, 2016, Mr. Noisette was arrested and detained at
Philadelphia's CFCF facility. While detained, Mr.
Noisette allegedly informed unnamed corrections officers and
health care providers that he was experiencing symptoms of
mental illness, lacked access to his prescription medication,
and was suicidal. He expressed psychotic thoughts and a
desire to harm himself. The complaint further alleges that
Mr. Noisette received inadequate treatment for his mental
illness while being held at CFCF. He hanged himself with a
bedsheet three weeks after arrival at CFCF.
Noisette sets out four causes of action regarding this
suicide on behalf of Mr. Noisette's estate. Count I
alleges that individual health care providers and corrections
officers were deliberately indifferent to Mr. Noisette's
serious medical needs, resulting in his suicide. In Count II,
Ms. Noisette alleges that multiple defendants were liable in
a supervisory role for the inadequate medical care her
brother received. Specifically, Ms. Noisette sued MHM
Services Inc., and the "City Defendants, "
namely, Blanche Carney (Philadelphia Department of Prisons
Commissioner), Bruce Herdman (Chief of Medical Operations,
Philadelphia Department of Prisons), Gerald May (Warden,
CFCF), the City of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia
Department of Prisons. Count III alleged that the City of
Philadelphia was liable for maintaining inadequate policies
and customs, and inadequately training its employees to stop
suicides. Count IV alleged medical negligence, and Count V
alleged wrongful death against all defendants.
to the motions at hand, these causes of action break down
into suits against three groups. First, Ms. Noisette sues the
unnamed parties (the "John Doe" defendants) who
directly denied Mr. Noisette his medicine and treatment.
Second, she sues the supervisors of these individuals for
supervisory liability. This includes the City Defendants and
MHM. Finally, Ms Noisette sued Philadelphia for municipal
liability under § 1983. No one disputes the viability of
suit against the first group of "John Doe"
defendants. Rather, the dispute in both pending motions
revolves around supervisory liability for the remaining
defendants and municipal liability for the City of
Standard of Review
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the sufficiency of a
complaint. Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, "
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), "to 'give the defendant fair
notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which
it rests.'" Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citation omitted) (alteration in
original). However, the plaintiff must provide "more
than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of
the elements of a cause of action will not do."
survive a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff 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). Specifically, "[f]actual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555. The question is not whether the claimant "will
ultimately prevail. . . but whether his complaint [is]
sufficient to cross the federal court's threshold."
Skinner v. Switzer, 562 U.S. 521, 530 (2011)
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Thus,
assessment of the sufficiency of a complaint is "a
context-dependent exercise" because "[s]ome claims
require more factual explication than others to state a
plausible claim for relief." W. Penn Allegheny
Health Sys., Inc. v. UPMC, 627 F.3d 85, 98(3dCir. 2010).
evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court adheres
to certain well-recognized parameters. For one, the Court
"must consider only those facts alleged in the complaint
and accept all of the allegations as true." ALA,
Inc. v. CCAIR, Inc., 29 F.3d 855, 859 (3d Cir. 1994);
see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (stating that
courts must "assum[e] that all the allegations in the
complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)");
Mayer v. Belichick, 605 F.3d 223, 230 (3d Cir. 2010)
("[A] court must consider only the complaint, exhibits
attached to the complaint, matters of public record, as well
as undisputedly authentic documents if the complainant's
claims are based upon these documents"). Also, the Court
must accept as true all reasonable inferences emanating from
the allegations, and view those facts and inferences in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Rocks v.
City of Philadelphia, 868 F.2d 644, 645 (3d Cir. 1989);
see also Revell v. Port Autk, 598 F.3d 128, 134 (3d
admonition does not demand that the Court ignore reality or
even discount it. The Court "need not accept as true
unsupported conclusions and unwarranted inferences, "
Doug Grant, Inc. v. Create Bay Casino Corp., 232
F.3d 173, 183-84 (3d Cir. 2000) (citations and internal
quotation marks omitted), and "the tenet that a court
must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a
complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice."
Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678; see also Morse v.
Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir.
1997) (explaining that a court need not accept a plaintiffs
"bald assertions" or "legal conclusions"
(citations omitted)). If a claim "is vulnerable to
12(b)(6) dismissal, a district court must permit a curative
amendment, unless an amendment would be inequitable or
futile." Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515
F.3d 224, 236 (3d Cir. 2008).