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DeRaffele v. City of Williamsport

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 4, 2018


          Schwab Chief Magistrate Judge


          Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge

         Before the Court for disposition is Chief Magistrate Judge Susan E.

         Schwab's Report and Recommendation and Plaintiff John DeRaffele's Objections to same. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Objections will be overruled and his Second Amended Complaint will be dismissed with prejudice.


         This case was initiated by Plaintiff John DeRaffele on November 16, 2015.[1]An Amended Complaint was filed on November 24, 2015.[2] Defendants, then City of Williamsport, Joseph Girardi, and Thomas Evansky, subsequently filed a motion to dismiss.[3] By Order dated February 2, 2017, and following full briefing by all parties, I adopted the Report and Recommendation of Chief Magistrate Judge Schwab.[4] In this Report and Recommendation, Chief Magistrate Judge Schwab had advised Plaintiff that, while she was recommending that leave to amend be granted,

Any second amended complaint shall be complete in all respects. It shall be a new pleading which stands by itself as an adequate complaint without reference to the complaints already filed. It shall not incorporate by reference any of the previous complaints. Any second amended complaint shall be titled as a second amended complaint and shall contain the docket number of this case.[5]

         On March 27, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint in which he named the City of Williamsport as the sole Defendant.[6] He has since confirmed that the City of Williamsport is the sole remaining defendant.[7] Defendant City of Williamsport filed a Second Motion to Dismiss on April 3, 2017.[8] In her Report and Recommendation of January 2, 2018, Chief Magistrate Judge Schwab recommended that this Court grant the City's motion with prejudice.[9] This conclusion was based on Plaintiff's failure to allege a policy or custom of its sole remaining Defendant-the City of Williamsport.[10] Plaintiff has since filed Objections to this Report and Recommendation, the matter has been fully briefed, [11]and I have duly considered the arguments presented.[12]

         II. LAW

         Upon designation, a magistrate judge may “conduct hearings, including evidentiary hearings, and ... submit to a judge of the court proposed findings of fact and recommendations.”[13] Once filed, this Report and Recommendation is disseminated to the parties in the case who then have the opportunity to file written objections.[14] When objections are timely filed, the District Court must conduct a de novo review of those portions of the report to which objections are made.[15]

         Although the standard of review for objections is de novo, the extent of review lies within the discretion of the District Court, and the court may otherwise rely on the recommendations of the magistrate judge to the extent it deems proper.[16] For portions of the Report and Recommendation to which no objection is made, a court should, as a matter of good practice, “satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation.”[17]Regardless of whether timely objections are made by a party, the District Court may accept, not accept, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.[18]

         III. ANALYSIS

         Having conducted de novo review of the Report and Recommendation, I find Plaintiff's Objection to be without merit. Specifically, in his Objections, Plaintiff fails to correct the key deficiency outlined by Chief Magistrate Judge Schwab in her Report and Recommendation, that is the lack of a formal policy or custom giving rise to liability against the Defendant City of Williamsport. My reasoning is as follows.

         In Monell v. Department of Social Services of City of New York, the Supreme Court of the United States determined that, while municipal bodies may not be sued solely for violations perpetrated by its employees or agents, “it is when execution of a government's policy or custom, whether made by its lawmakers or by those whose edicts or acts may fairly be said to represent official policy, inflicts the injury that the government as an entity is responsible under § 1983.”[19] In order to establish municipality liability under Section 1983, a plaintiff must establish that the municipality had a policy or custom that caused his constitutional injury.[20] As noted in the Report and Recommendation, a policy or custom can be shown in four ways:

(1) the existence of a formal policy, officially promulgated or adopted by a municipality; (2) an official or officials responsible for establishing final policy with respect to the subject matter in question taking action or making a deliberate, specific decision that caused the alleged violation of plaintiff's constitutional rights, (3) the existence of an unlawful practice by subordinate officials so permanent and well settled as to constitute “custom or usage” and proof that this practice was so manifest or widespread as to imply the constructive acquiescence of policymaking officials, or (4) a claim of failure to train or supervise when such a failure amounts to deliberate indifference to the rights of persons coming into contact with municipal officials.[21]

         Finally, in order for municipal liability to exist, there must still be a violation of the ...

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