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Keffer v. The City of Connellsville

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

August 3, 2018



          Lisa Pupo Lenihan, United States Magistrate Judge

         Currently before the Court in this civil rights action is a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) filed by Defendant City of Connellsville. (ECF No. 45.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Defendant's Motion to Dismiss with prejudice.


         A. Brief Procedural History

         On March 15, 2017, Plaintiff Anthony K. Keffer ("Plaintiff), pro se, initiated the present lawsuit by filing a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis which was granted on April 10, 2017. On April 11, 2017, the Complaint was filed alleging that Defendants acted with the purpose and intent of depriving Plaintiff of his rights under the United States Constitution. (ECF No. 5.)

         In response to Plaintiffs Complaint, Defendant City of Connellsville ("Connellsville") filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint on September 25, 2017, under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (ECF No. 13.) Plaintiff filed a brief in opposition to the Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 26.)

         On January 19, 2018, the Court issued a Memorandum Opinion granting Connellsville's motion as it related to Plaintiffs claims for failure to train and failure supervise without prejudice to Plaintiff filing an amended complaint. (ECF No. 31.) The Court denied the motion as it related to the statute of limitations defense without prejudice to the renewal of the statute of limitations defense on a motion for summary judgement. (Id.) On the same day, the Court issued a corresponding Order instructing Plaintiff to file any amended complaint no later than February 5, 2018. (ECF No. 32.) After the Court granted Plaintiffs two motions for extension of time to amend his Complaint, Plaintiff was instructed to file an amended complaint by March 15, 2018. (ECF Nos. 34 & 38.) On March 15, 2018, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 39.)

         On March 28, 2018, the Court issued an Order stating in relevant part:

Plaintiff. . . stated in his Amended Complaint that he re-alleges and incorporates all claims made in his Original Complaint. (ECF No. 39 at Introduction, p.2.)
The Filing of an amended complaint completely replaces any previous complaint filed in a civil action, and therefore, the Court will not incorporate claims from the Original Complaint that are not fully set out in the Amended complaint... . [T]he Court will strike Plaintiffs Amended Complaint at ECF No. 39, and grant Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint by April 18, 2018.

(ECF No. 40) (emphasis in original).

         Plaintiff subsequently filed his new Amended Complaint on April 18, 2018, and despite the Court's instruction, attempted to reincorporate factual claims made in the Original Complaint by stating, "Plaintiff does incorporate section IV Facts of Original Complaint 14 through 51 and remov[es] any references to claims dismissed against any prior defendants excluding surviving claims against any defendants) for failure to train." (ECF No. 41 at Introduction.) Then, on May 4, 2018, Connellsville filed the present Motion to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure with supporting brief. (ECF Nos. 45 & 46.) The Court issued an Order instructing Plaintiff to file his responsive brief by May 30, 2018. (ECF No. 47.) Plaintiff then filed a Motion for Extension of Time until June 13, 2018 to file a response to any pending motions to dismiss. (ECF No. 48.) On June 1, 2018, the Court granted the motion. (ECF No. 49.) Plaintiff has failed to file any further motions for extension of time. He has filed no response to the present Motion to Dismiss.[1]

         Thus, because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court will consider all relevant allegations stated in both his Original and Amended Complaints in its analysis of the present Motion to Dismiss. (ECF Nos. 5 & 41.) Additionally, the Court will consider Plaintiffs brief in response (ECF No. 26) to Connellsville's initial Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 13).

         B. Relevant Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff alleges the following facts in his Original and Amended Complaints, which the Court accepts as true for the purposes of the Motion to Dismiss. (ECF Nos. 5 & 41.) Plaintiff avers that all relevant times, Defendant Ryan Reese ("Reese") was a police officer employed by the City of Connellsville Police Department. (Amend. Compl. ¶ 4, ECF No. 41.) Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant Connellsville is responsible for the polices, practices, and customs of its employees. (Id. ¶ 5.) Plaintiff asserts that Connellsville had a duty to train and discipline its employees for unlawful conduct. (Id. ¶¶ 5, 6.) Plaintiff also asserts that in 2002 or 2003, Reese was assigned to the Fayette County Drug Task Force, "a coordinated effort among local municipal police departments and the Office of Attorney General to investigate violations of the state Controlled Substances, Drug[s], Device and Cosmetic Act." (Id. ¶ 19.) Plaintiff contends that Reese was appointed as the supervisor of the task force in 2009, but "[a]t some point," was removed from this position and continued working with the task force. (Id.)

         On September 30, 2009, Plaintiff was arrested by Defendant Reese based on evidence provided by a confidential informant regarding a controlled purchase of Oxycontin. (Compl. ¶ 14, ECF No. 5.) Plaintiff was charged with Possession with the Intent to Deliver and remanded to Fayette County Prison. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Reese fabricated and falsified the evidence leading to his arrest. (Id.) Plaintiff also avers that Reese knowingly utilized a confidential informant who had no personal knowledge of any prior criminal activity by Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 56.) Plaintiff further alleges that Reese was aware that the confidential informant was offering his services in the hopes of leniency for a criminally charged family member. (Id. ¶¶ 14, 56.)

         On September 9, 2010, Plaintiff was convicted of all charges. (Id. ¶ 19.) On September 23, 2010, Plaintiff was sentenced to 27 to 54 months of incarceration. (Id. ¶ 20.) After a series of appeals, Plaintiff was awarded a new trial. (Id. ¶¶ 22-24, 28-30, 32.) Eventually, a nol pros was entered in the Court of Common Pleas for Fayette County citing the Commonwealth's inability to sustain its burden of proof against Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 50.) Plaintiff alleges that Connellsville failed to develop required policies and procedures to properly train Defendant Reese resulting in the deprivation of Plaintiff s civil rights. (Amend. Compl. ¶ 20, ECF No. 41.) Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that Connellsville knew or should have known of the illegal conduct of Defendant Reese but failed to properly supervise or discipline him to discourage his unlawful abuse of authority. (Id. ¶¶ 22-25.) Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that on November 1, 2012, Reese was suspended from the Attorney General's taskforce because he admitted to having sexual relations with female informants. (Id. ¶ 19.) At this time through February 2013, the task force supervisor met several times with the Connellsville Police Chief, Mayor, and others. (Id.) During these meetings, Reese's sexual conduct with two female confidential informants was discussed. (Id.) The Police Chief was also informed that in addition to Reese's admission to sexual contact with the two female informants, further allegations were made by six other women that from 2005 to 2012, he engaged in sexual relations with them in exchange for money and/or drugs. (Id.) Other allegations conveyed to the Police Chief included that Reese paid a woman to plant controlled substances in a residence and that he had stolen money from drug suspects. (Id.) It was also alleged that Reese took women with whom he was having sexual relations along with him in a Connellsville police patrol when responding to police calls. (Id.) On February 11, 2013, Reese was dismissed from the task force. (Id.) The reasons for the dismissal included the information learned during the task force supervisor's investigation. (Id.)

         On November 9, 2016, Reese was convicted of corruption of a minor due to his conduct while interacting with confidential informants. (Id. ¶ 14.) On December 12, 2017, Defendant Reese was convicted of "Official Oppression-Arrest Search etc." due to his conduct while interacting with confidential informants. (Id. ¶ 15.) In instituting the present suit, Plaintiff seeks to hold Defendant City of Connellsville liable under Monell v. Dep 't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978).


         In deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Courts apply the following standard as ...

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