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Brownlee v. Lenning

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

July 16, 2019

JONATHAN A. BROWNLEE, III, Plaintiff
v.
SGT. KENNETH LENNING, Defendant

          MEMORANDUM

         Pro se Plaintiff Jonathan A. Brownlee, III (“Plaintiff”), who is currently incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary Hazelton in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia (“USP Hazelton”), initiated the above-captioned action on June 29, 2018 by filing a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's motion requesting production of documents (Doc. No. 64), Plaintiff's second amended complaint (Doc. No. 66), Plaintiff's motion for leave to file a third amended complaint (Doc. No. 67), Defendant Sgt. Kenneth Lenning (“Lenning”)'s motion to strike (Doc. No. 68) Plaintiff's motion requesting production of documents, Defendant Lenning's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's second amended complaint (Doc. No. 70), Plaintiff's motion requesting that the Court hold Defendant Lenning in contempt (Doc. No. 72), and Plaintiff's motion requesting that the Court withdraw his proposed third amended complaint due to misfiling (Doc. No. 79). The motion to dismiss and motion to strike have been fully briefed. For the following reasons, the Court will grant Defendant Lenning's motion to dismiss (Doc. No. 70), deny Plaintiff's motion for leave to file a third amended complaint (Doc. No. 67), deny the parties' remaining motions (Doc. Nos. 64, 68, 72, 79), and direct the Clerk of Court to close this case.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff's initial complaint was brought against the United States of America, alleging that an unnamed police officer from the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department arrested him for failing to register under Pennsylvania's Megan's Law. (Doc. No. 1 at 2.) Plaintiff maintained that “because of the U.S. Government's doings[, ]” he was imprisoned for almost a year. (Id. at 3.) By Memorandum and Order dated August 21, 2018, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis and dismissed his complaint with leave to amend. (Doc. Nos. 15, 16.)

         Plaintiff subsequently filed an amended complaint against Defendant Lenning. (Doc. No. 34.) Defendant Lenning filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint. (Doc. No. 54.) In a Report and Recommendation dated April 15, 2019, Magistrate Judge Carlson recommended granting Defendant Lenning's motion to dismiss and dismissing Plaintiff's amended complaint without prejudice to one final opportunity to amend. (Doc. No. 58.) In an Order dated May 2, 2019, the Court adopted the Report and Recommendation, overruled Plaintiff's objections, granted Defendant Lenning's motion to dismiss, dismissed Plaintiff's amended complaint, and directed him to file a second amended complaint within thirty (30) days. (Doc. No. 63.)

         B. Allegations of Second Amended Complaint

          In his second amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges that on December 23, 2015, Defendant Lenning filed a “false felony charge” against him “resulting from his faulty and unlawful ‘Megan's Law' registering compliance investigation which he led alone.” (Doc. No. 66 at 1.) Plaintiff claims that this “faulty investigation culminated after [Defendant Lenning] accepted a false statement from Plaintiff's co-worker staying Plaintiff is non-employed.” (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that because of Defendant Lenning's actions, he “unduly suffered imprisonment while innocent from December 23, 2015 to February 2, 2017.” (Id.) He asserts claims of false arrest and false imprisonment and seeks an unspecified amount of damages. (Id. at 1-2.)

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)

         Federal notice and pleading rules require the complaint to provide the defendant notice of the claim and the grounds upon which it rests. See Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232 (3d Cir. 2008). The plaintiff must present facts that, accepted as true, demonstrate a plausible right to relief. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Although Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires “only a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” a complaint may nevertheless be dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for its “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

         When ruling on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court accepts as true all factual allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from them, viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009); In re Ins. Brokerage Antitrust Litig., 618 F.3d 300, 314 (3d Cir. 2010). To prevent dismissal, all civil complaints must set out “sufficient factual matter” to show that their claims are facially plausible. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009). The plausibility standard requires more than a mere possibility that the defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct: “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not ‘show[n]' - ‘that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

         Accordingly, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has identified the following steps that a district court must take when reviewing a 12(b)(6) motion: (1) identify the elements that a plaintiff must plead to state a claim; (2) identify any conclusory allegations contained in the complaint that are “not entitled” to the assumption of truth; and (3) determine whether any “well-pleaded factual allegations” contained in the complaint “plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” See Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 130 (3d Cir. 2010) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). The Third Circuit has specified that in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, “a court must consider only the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of public record, as well as undisputedly authentic documents if the complainant's claims are based upon these documents.” See 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)).

         In the context of pro se prisoner litigation, the court must be mindful that a document filed pro se is “to be liberally construed.” See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). A pro se complaint, “however inartfully pleaded, ” must be held to “less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers” and can be dismissed for failure to state a claim only if it appears beyond a doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).

         B. ...


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