United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
E.K. PRATTER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
se plaintiff Mary Bush wants to pursue a full panoply of
claims against East Goshen Township, Sgt. James Renegar, and
Sgt. Ted Lewis after they arrested her in January 2016. She
alleges that the officers falsely arrested her, used
excessive force, took her belongings, and either negligently
and/or intentionally inflicted emotional distress. She
further alleges that East Goshen Township is liable for the
actions of its officers. The defendants moved to dismiss all
of Ms. Bush's claims except for her § 1983 excessive
force claim against Sgt. Renegar.
Court dismisses most of Ms. Bush's claims, including all
of her claims against East Goshen Township and Sgt. Lewis.
Ms. Bush's only surviving claims are against Sgt. Renegar
for § 1983 excessive force (Count I), assault and
battery (Count V), and conversion (Count XII).
Bush's mother has been a resident at Park Lane, an
assisted living facility in West Chester, PA, since November
2015. Ms. Bush regularly visits her mother and consistently
has worried about her mother's health and care at the
facility. Ms. Bush repeatedly complained to the Westtown East
Goshen Police Department, the Pennsylvania Department of
Health, and Adult Protective services on behalf of her
January 27, 2016, Ms. Bush visited her mother at Park Lane.
When she entered the locked ward, Ms. Bush saw her mother
“with a bandaged hand and not looking well.”
Compl. ¶ 20. Ms. Bush claims that Park Lane
administrator Kimberly Goodall then verbally attacked her
Bush called the Westtown East Goshen Police Department, which
dispatched Sgt. James Renegar. After Sgt. Renegar arrived,
Ms. Bush noticed her mother slipping out of a wheelchair. As
Ms. Bush went to help her mother, she claims that Sgt.
Renegar threatened her and said, “I've heard about
you, your name has come up.” Compl. ¶ 22. Park
Lane staff asked Sgt. Renegar to remove Ms. Bush from the
Bush says that she left Park Lane on her own accord while
Sgt. Renegar followed her. She called 911 again and asked for
a wellness check for her mother. Ms. Bush also told the 911
operator that “a man, ” referring to Sgt.
Renegar, was following her. She says that Sgt. Renegar then
lunged at her, grabbed her phone, and twisted her arm. He
threw her phone into a snow embankment and “full body
slammed” Ms. Bush while threatening to shoot or Taser
her. Compl. ¶ 25.
Ted Lewis, another defendant, arrived during the altercation.
He and Sgt. Renegar placed Ms. Bush in the back of Sgt.
Lewis' car. Sgt. Renegar took Ms. Bush's handbag,
which had her wallet with $1, 000 in cash in it, and put it
in his car. The officers then told Ms. Bush that she was
Bush told the officers that she was injured and they took her
to Chester County Hospital. As the officers brought Ms. Bush
into the hospital, she claims they slammed her against the
police car, causing a “bone bruise, cuts, bruises, and
a concussion which resulted in permanent nerve damage.”
Compl. ¶ 32.
the hospital discharged Ms. Bush, Sgt. Lewis put her in
handcuffs and Sgt. Renegar allegedly threatened her and said,
“you're not gonna get out of this; we know all the
judges.” Compl. ¶ 35. Ms. Bush was charged with,
and later convicted of, resisting arrest, criminal trespass,
and disorderly conduct.
Bush makes a variety of claims against the defendants,
seeking a declaratory judgment, damages, punitive damages,
and costs. They are:
1. Count I - § 1983 Excessive Force (v. Sgt. Renegar)
2. Count II - Abuse of Process (v. East Goshen Twp.)
3. Count III - Abuse of Process (v. Sgts. Renegar and Lewis)
4. Count IV - Monell Liability (v. East Goshen Twp.)
5. Count V - Assault and Battery (v. Sgt. Renegar)
6. Count VI - Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress (v.
East Goshen Twp.)
7. Count VII - Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress (v.
Sgts. Renegar and Lewis)
8. Count VIII - Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
(v. East Goshen Twp.)
9. Count IX - Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
(v. Sgts. Renegar and Lewis)
10. Count X - False Arrest (v. Sgt. Renegar)
11. Count XI - Perjury (v. Sgt. Renegar)
12. Count XII - Theft (v. Sgt. Renegar)
13. Punitive Damages (v. All Defendants)
defendants moved to dismiss all of Ms. Bush's claims with
the exception of the claim for excessive force against Sgt.
outset, the Court notes that Ms. Bush's pro se
pleading must be “liberally construed.”
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976); see
also Bieros v. Nicola, 839 F.Supp. 332, 334 (E.D. Pa.
1993). Due to an “understandable difference in legal
sophistication, ” pro se litigants such as Ms.
Bush are held to a “less exacting standard” than
trained counsel. Lopez v. Brown, No. 04-6267, 2005
WL 2972843 (D.N.J. Nov. 4, 2005) (citing Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972)). The Court stands
prepared to “apply the applicable law, ...