Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Merritt v. Mancini

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

July 11, 2019

ROBERT MERRITT, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL MANCINI, et al, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          SCHMEHL, J.

         Plaintiff Robert Merritt filed this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on his arrest and related criminal proceeding.[1] Merritt seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis. For the following reasons, the Court will grant Merritt leave to proceed in forma pauperis and dismiss his Complaint with leave to amend.

         I. FACTS

         Merritt's Complaint appears to be composed of two form Complaints submitted together. He names as Defendants police officers Michael Mancini and S Bat, the "Police Department of Allentown," the County of Lehigh, and the City of Allentown. The Court understands Merritt to be raising claims based on events that occurred in connection with his arrest on December 3, 2018 and related criminal charges filed against him. See Commonwealth v. Merritt, Docket No. MJ-31201-CR-0000587-2018.

         Merritt was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and defiant trespass. Officer Mancini's affidavit of probable cause, which is attached as an exhibit to Merritt's Complaint, indicates that Merritt, who is homeless, was sleeping in a busy Dunkin Donuts store for an hour and that he refused to leave the store after being asked at least twice by Officer Mancini. According to the affidavit, Merritt accused Officer Mancini of assaulting him, claimed he was going to file a lawsuit against Mancini, and started yelling that Mancini violated his rights. (Compl., ECF No. 2 at 15.)[2] He allegedly continued to yell, and a worker told him he was being disruptive. After about five minutes, Merritt was taken into custody. The charges against Merritt were ultimately dismissed.

         According to Merritt, Officer Mancini "assault[ed] and batter[ed]" him "for no reason at all." (Id. at 5.) He describes the assault has having occurred four times on his right shoulder and indicates that Mancini also assaulted him while effecting the arrest.[3] From there, Merritt was taken to the Allentown Police Department.

         Merritt alleges that he was "kidnapped" and "held ... hostage against [his] will... in a cell with no [toilet] [and] no running water." (Id. at 5.) Merritt indicates that Officer Bat "came over to help" and "infringed in Officer Mancini in assaulting and battering [him]." (Id.) He alleges that an unknown officer told him to remove a ring and that when he did not move fast enough, he was handcuffed by the unidentified officer and Officer Bat. The Officers "used [the cuffs] as a deadly weapon" and, when putting them on Merritt, bent his wrist causing him pain. Merritt asserts that "this was a lynch mob attack because of the color of [his] skin also as well as being prejudice [by] [his] living status by being homeless." (Id.) Merritt indicates that his wrist was fractured and alleges that his hand required a cast. (ECF No. 2-3 at 3.) He alleges that he asked to go to the hospital but was denied medical care and instead kept in the cell for a period of seven hours. (Id.)

         Merritt claims that he will need to apply for disability "because [his] hand won't be the same any more." (ECF No. 2 at 5.) He suggests that he lost the ability to pursue certain claims in litigation due to difficulty writing, but he does not clarify that allegation further. He seeks $100 million in damages.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The Court will grant Merritt leave to proceed in forma pauperis because it appears that he is not capable of pre-paying the fees to commence this civil action. Accordingly, Merritt's Complaint is subject to 28 U.S.C. § l9l5(e)(2)(B)(ii), which requires the Court to dismiss the Complaint if it fails to state a claim. To survive dismissal, a complaint "must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quotations omitted). Although the Court must take the Complaint's factual allegations as true, it must also "disregard legal conclusions and 'recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements.'" Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 128 (3d Cir. 2010) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. As Merritt is proceeding pro se, the Court construes his allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).

         III. DISCUSSION

         "To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law." West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). For the following reasons, Merritt's claims fail as pled with the exception of certain claims against Officer Bat.

         A. Claims Against Police Department of Allentown, County of Lehigh, and City of Allentown

         Merritt has failed to plead a basis for a claim against Defendants Police Department of Allentown, County of Lehigh, and City of Allentown. To plead a basis for municipal liability under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that the municipality's policy or custom caused the violation of his constitutional rights. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of N.Y.,436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978). "To satisfy the pleading standard, [the plaintiff] must... specify what exactly that custom or policy was." McTernan v. City of York, PA,564 F.3d 636, 658 (3d Cir. 2009). '"Policy is made when a decisionmaker possess[ing] final authority to establish municipal policy with respect to the action issues an official proclamation, policy, or edict.'" Estate of Roman v. City of Newark,914 F.3d 789, 798 (3d Cir. 2019) (quoting Andrews v. City of Philadelphia,895 F.2d 1469, 1480 (3d Cir. 1990)). "Custom, on the other hand, can ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.