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Tucker v. City of Philadelphia

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

November 2, 2017

DEMARCUS TUCKER, Plaintiff
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          STENGEL, C. J.

         Demarcus Tucker filed this counseled amended complaint against the City of Philadelphia and several members of its Police Department, alleging civil rights violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1981, 1985, 1986, and several state law torts. The Defendant City and Defendants John Smith, David Anzideo, and Shawn Parker filed a motion to partially dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. They contend that Counts II, III, and V should be dismissed. Mr. Tucker responded. For the following reasons, I will grant the motion in part and deny it in part.

          I. BACKGROUND[1]

         The amended complaint alleges that Mr. Tucker was incarcerated in state prison for a period of one and half years as a result of false charges brought against him by certain police officers of the City. Specifically, it alleges that, on June 19, 2014, Mr. Tucker was innocently riding his bicycle when he was brutally attacked by the police without warning. The police officer defendants tasered him and pushed him onto the ground. Mr. Tucker was then thrown into a police vehicle causing a fracture of his right hand and/or wrist. He alleges that the police officers beat him about the head and face, and other portions of his body. Mr. Tucker then alleges that he was wrongfully arrested and charged with various crimes including the possession of an instrument of crime, and placed into custody at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia from June 19, 2014 through February 17, 2016.

         The amended complaint further alleges that Mr. Tucker was released only after the Court of Common Pleas determined that the police officers had engaged in an illegal search and seizure, and that they had no probable cause to arrest, charge, and/or confine Mr. Tucker.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted examines the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). Following the Supreme Court decisions in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009), pleading standards in federal actions have shifted from simple notice pleading to a more heightened form of pleading, requiring a plaintiff to allege facts sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a plausible claim for relief. Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009).

         While Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), in order to “give the defendant fair notice of what the . . .claim is and the grounds upon which it rests, ” Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. 544, the plaintiff must provide “more than labels and conclusions.” Byrne v. Cleveland Clinic, 684 F.Supp.2d 641, 649 (E.D. Pa. 2010)(citing Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. 544). A facially plausible claim may not be supported by conclusory allegations, but must allow the court “to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         III. DISCUSSION

         The three claims that are the subject of this motion to dismiss were brought against the defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a private party may recover in an action against any person acting under the color of state law who deprives the party of his constitutional rights. The relevant text of § 1983 provides, in part:

“Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen . . . or any other person . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured. . . .”

         Section 1983 does not by itself confer substantive rights, but rather, provides a remedy for redress when a constitutionally protected right has been violated. Oklahoma City v. Tuttle, 471 U.S. 808, 816 (1985) (citing Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 140, 144 n.3 (1979)). Thus, in order to bring a successful claim for relief under § 1983, “a plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant, acting under color of law, deprived him of a right secured by the Constitution or the laws of the United States.” Kaucher v. Cnty. of Bucks, 455 F.3d 418, 423 (3d Cir. 2006).

         A. Count II

         In Count II, Mr. Tucker alleges a claim against the individual police officer defendants in their individual capacities for racial discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and 42 U.S.C. § 1981.[2] He contends that his race, i.e., African American, was a motivating factor in the defendants' decisions to use excessive force, and then to maliciously arrest and prosecute him with false charges. See Am.Compl. ΒΆ 82. The ...


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