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Scott v. City of Philadelphia

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

August 1, 2019

BERNARD SCOTT
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, PHILADELPHIA POLICE DEPARTMENT, POLICE OFFICER, ROBERT HEENEY, POLICE OFFICER, MS KATIE LANKFORD

          MEMORANDUM

          TIMOTHY J. SAVAGE, J.

         Plaintiff Bernard Scott, a prisoner incarcerated at the Philadelphia Detention Center, brings this pro se civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeking damages for injuries he sustained while being transported by a police officer. He seeks to proceed in forma pauperis. We shall grant Scott leave to proceed in forma pauperis and dismiss his Complaint without prejudice for failure to state a claim.

         Facts

         Scott names as defendants the City of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Police Department, and police officers Robert Heeney and Katie Lankford. He alleges that on October 7, 2018, Heeney arrested him and placed him in the back of a patrol car.[1] Because he refused to provide Heeney with identification, Heeney transported him to the police station.

         Once Lankford identified him, Heeney drove away at a high rate of speed with Lankford following in her car. According to Scott, while he was in the police vehicle, Heeney slammed on the brakes when he tried to roll down the window, causing him to slide forward, hit his head on the back of the front seat, and pass out. As a result, he sustained injuries and was taken to the hospital, where he awoke with intravenous tubes in his arms and a heart monitor.

         Scott seeks damages for “pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, deliberate indifference, excessive force, assault and battery.”[2] He also alleges that he lost his business and work vehicle, and that his home was foreclosed upon because he was incarcerated.

         Standard of Review

         Because it appears that he is not capable of paying the fees to commence this civil action, Scott will be granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), we must dismiss the Complaint if it fails to state a claim. Whether a complaint fails to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard applicable to motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), see Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236, 240 (3d Cir. 1999), which means the 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). “[M]ere conclusory statements do not suffice.” Id. Because Scott is proceeding pro se, we construe his allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).

         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, Scott has not stated a claim against the defendants.

         Philadelphia Police Department

         The Philadelphia Police Department is not a separate entity from the City and is not a person subject to suit under § 1983. See Gremo v. Karlin, 363 F.Supp.2d 771, 780 (E.D. Pa. 2005); see also 53 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 16257. Therefore, we shall dismiss Scott's claims against the Philadelphia Police Department.

         City of Philadelphia

         To state a § 1983 claim against a municipality, a plaintiff must allege that the defendant's policies or customs caused the alleged constitutional violation. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of N.Y., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978). The plaintiff “must identify [the] custom or policy, and specify what exactly that custom or policy was” to satisfy the pleading standard. McTernan v. City of York,564 F.3d 636, 658 (3d Cir. 2009). A plaintiff may also state a basis for municipal liability by “alleging failure-to-supervise, train, or discipline . . . [and alleging facts showing] that said failure amounts to deliberate indifference to the constitutional rights of those affected.” Forrest v. Parry, --- F.3d ---, No. 16-4351, 2019 WL 2998601, at *8 (3d Cir. July 10, 2019). ‚ÄúThis consists of a showing as to whether (1) municipal policymakers know that ...


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