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.

A.J. v. Lancaster County

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

October 11, 2019

A.J., Plaintiff,
v.
LANCASTER COUNTY; CRYSTAL A. NATAN, Executive Director; ROBIN BOYER; ALEXIS PALMER; CHRISTOPHER HORNBERGER; CHRISTINE SEBASTIAN-BAIR; DIAKON-SWAN, LLC; DIAKON LUTHERAN SOCIAL SERVICES; FAMILY DESIGN RESOURCES, INC.; and PAT DOES #1-10, Defendants.

         Defendants' Motions to Dismiss, ECF Nos. 21 and 22 - Granted

         Defendant's Motion to Strike, ECF No. 22 - Denied as moot.

          OPINION

          JOSEPH F. LEESON, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         A.J., the biological father of a minor, filed this action against Lancaster County, Crystal Natan, Robin Boyer, Alexis Palmer, Christopher Hornberger, Courtney Restemayer, Esq., David J. Natan, Esq., (collectively, “the County”); Family Design Resources and Christine Sebastian-Blair (collectively, “Family Design”); and Diakon-Swan, LLC (collectively, “Defendants”). Plaintiff asserts, on behalf of himself, claims of civil rights violations he allegedly sustained in connection with an investigation by Defendants of child abuse involving his child. The County and Family Design have moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Family Design has additionally moved to strike A.J.'s amended complaint for failure to provide a short and plain statement showing the pleader is entitled to relief.

         For the reasons set forth below, the motions to dismiss are granted and the motion to strike is denied as moot.

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural Background

         On April 24, 2019, A.J. filed his complaint against the Defendants asserting violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1981, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and 42 U.S.C. § 1985; the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution of the United States; and Article 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. See Compl. ECF No. 1. On July 9, 2019, A.J. filed an amended complaint asserting additional claims pursuant to § 1983. See Am. Compl., ECF No. 15.

         The Court construes the following to constitute claims being asserted in A.J.'s amended complaint even though A.J. did not separately number them: (1) a § 1981 claim against all Defendants, (2) a § 1985 claim against all Defendants, (3) a Fifth Amendment claim against all Defendants, (4) a Sixth Amendment Claim against all Defendants, (5) a Seventh Amendment Claim against all Defendants, (6) a Monell[1]claim for failure to adequately train against all Defendants, (7) a Monell claim for having a policy of withholding information against the County, (8) a First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, and Fourteenth Amendment claim against all individually named defendants, (9) a First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment claim against all Defendants for coercion of a child safety plan, (10) a Fourth Amendment claim against all Defendants for entering A.J.'s home without probable cause; (11) a First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment claim against all Defendants for omitting exculpatory information, (12) a First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment claim against all Defendants for compelling A.J. to extend the safety plan, (13) a claim for abuse of process and malicious prosecution against all Defendants, (14) a claim pursuant to Article 1, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution against all Defendants for ignoring exculpatory information, (15) a First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment claim against all Defendants for denial of discovery, and (16) a First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment claim against all Defendants for destruction of evidence. Id. Due to A.J.'s numerous allegations, the Court refers to the allegations by the number in the order in which they were presented.

         The County filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim on July 23, 2019. See Cnty. Mot., ECF No. 21. That same day, Family Design filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim and a motion to strike the amended complaint for failure to conform with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) to provide a short and plain statement of the claim showing the pleader is entitled to relief. See Fam. Mot., ECF No. 22. A.J. has responded to the motions.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         A. 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss Standard.

         In rendering a decision on a motion to dismiss, this Court must “accept all factual allegations as true [and] construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Pinker v. Roche Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002)) (internal quotation marks omitted). Only if “the ‘[f]actual allegations . . . raise a right to relief above the speculative level'” has the plaintiff stated a plausible claim. Id. at 234 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 540, 555 (2007)). “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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). However, “the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Id. (explaining that determining “whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief . . . [is] a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense”). The defendant bears the burden of demonstrating that a plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005) (citing Kehr Packages, Inc. v. Fidelcor, Inc., 926 F.2d 1406, 1409 (3d Cir. 1991)).

         B. 12(f) Motion to Strike Standard.

         Rule 12(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that “the court may order stricken from any pleading any insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent or scandalous matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). “Content is immaterial when it has no essential or important relationship to the claim for relief. Content is impertinent when it does not pertain to the issues raised in the complaint. Scandalous material improperly casts a derogatory light on someone, most typically on a party to the action.” Griswold v. Coventry First LLC, No. 10-5964, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19455, at *19 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 18, 2015) (internal citations and alterations omitted).

         “The standard for striking a complaint or a portion of it is strict, and ‘only allegations that are so unrelated to the plaintiff's claims as to be unworthy of any consideration should be stricken.'” Steak Umm Co., LLC v. Steak'Em Up, Inc., No. 09-2857, 2009 WL 3540786, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 29, 2009) (citing Johnson v. Anhorn, 334 F.Supp.2d 802, 809 (E.D. Pa. 2004)). “The purpose of a motion to strike is to clean up the pleadings, streamline litigation, and avoid unnecessary forays into immaterial matters.” McInerney v. Moyer Lumber and Hardware, Inc., 244 F.Supp.2d 393, 402 (E.D. Pa. 2002). Although “[a] court possesses considerable discretion in disposing of a motion to strike under Rule 12(f), ” such motions are “not favored and usually will be denied unless the allegations have no possible relation to the controversy and may cause prejudice to one of the parties, or if the allegations confuse the issues in the case.” River Road Dev. Corp. v. Carlson Corp., No. Civ. 89-7037, 1990 WL 69085, at *3 (E.D. Pa. May 23, 1990). Thus, striking a pleading or a portion of a pleading “is a drastic remedy to be resorted to only when required for the purposes of justice.” DeLa Cruz v. Piccari Press, 521 F.Supp.2d 424, 428 (E.D. Pa. 2007) (quotations omitted).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         A. Motion to Dismiss

         Defendants move to dismiss A.J.'s amended complaint for failure to state a claim. For the following reasons, the motion is granted.

         i. ...


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.