United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
RICHARD CAPUTO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is motion to dismiss Mr. Gomez's
Complaint filed by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
Defendant, Dorina Varner. (ECF No. 3.)
reasons that follow, the motion will be granted and Mr. Gomez
will be afforded the opportunity to file an amended
Standard of Review
Rule of Civil Procedure 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. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 12(b)(6). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion,
the Court's role is limited to determining if a plaintiff
is entitled to offer evidence in support of her claims.
See Semerenko v. Cendant Corp., 223 F.3d 165, 173
(3d Cir. 2000). The Court does not consider whether a
plaintiff will ultimately prevail. Id. A defendant
bears the burden of establishing that a plaintiff's
complaint fails to state a claim. See Gould Elecs. v.
United States, 220 F.3d 169, 178 (3d Cir. 2000).
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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).
The statement required by Rule 8(a)(2) must “
‘give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is
and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Erickson
v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200, 167
L.Ed.2d 1081 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct.
1955, 1964, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). Detailed factual
allegations are not required. Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555, 127 S.Ct. at 1964. However, mere conclusory statements
will not do; “a complaint must do more than allege the
plaintiff's entitlement to relief.” Fowler v.
UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009).
Instead, a complaint must “show” this entitlement
by alleging sufficient facts. Id. While legal
conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they
must be supported by factual allegations. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 - 50, 173
L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). As such, “[t]he touchstone of the
pleading standard is plausibility.” Bistrian v.
Levi, 696 F.3d 352, 365 (3d Cir. 2012).
inquiry at the motion to dismiss stage is "normally
broken into three parts: (1) identifying the elements of the
claim, (2) reviewing the complaint to strike conclusory
allegations, and then (3) looking at the well-pleaded
components of the complaint and evaluating whether all of the
elements identified in part one of the inquiry are
sufficiently alleged." Malleus v. George, 641
F.3d 560, 563 (3d Cir. 2011).
is appropriate only if, accepting as true all the facts
alleged in the complaint, a plaintiff has not pleaded
"enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face, " Twombly, 550 U.S. at
570, 127 S.Ct. at 1973, meaning enough factual allegations
“'to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery
will reveal evidence of' ” each necessary element.
Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d
Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 127
S.Ct. at 1965). "The plausibility standard is not akin
to a `probability requirement, ' but it asks for more
than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct.
at 1949. "When there are well-pleaded factual
allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then
determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement
to relief." Id. at 679, 129 S.Ct. at 1950.
deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court should consider the
complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, and matters of
public record. Mayer v. Belichick, 605 F.3d 223, 230
(3d Cir. 2010) (citing Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v.
White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir.
1993)). The Court may also consider "undisputedly
authentic" documents when the plaintiff's claims are
based on the documents and the defendant has attached copies
of the documents to the motion to dismiss. Pension
Benefit Guar. Corp., 998 F.2d at 1196. The Court need
not assume that the plaintiff can prove facts that were not
alleged in the complaint, see City of Pittsburgh v. W.
Penn Power Co., 147 F.3d 256, 263 & n.13 (3d Cir.
1998), or credit a complaint's “ 'bald
assertions' ” or “ 'legal conclusions,
' ” Morse Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132
F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997) (quoting In re Burlington
Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1429-30 (3d
October 6, 2017, Leonardo Gomez, a prisoner housed by the
Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) at the Dallas
State Correctional Institution (SCI-Dallas) in Dallas,
Pennsylvania, filed his Complaint with the Court of Common
Pleas of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania alleging that the
Defendants violated his Constitutional rights under the First
Amendment through the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Named as Defendants are Dorina Varner and several John
Does. (ECF No. 1-1, Compl.)
November 8, 2017, Defendant Varner removed the action to
federal court. (ECF No. 1, Notice of Removal). Defendant
Varner then filed a motion to dismiss the Complaint on
November 13, 2017. (ECF No. 3.) To date, ...