United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
Motions to Dismiss, ECF Nos. 21 and 22 - Granted
Motion to Strike, ECF No. 22 - Denied as moot.
F. LEESON, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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
reasons set forth below, the motions to dismiss are granted
and the motion to strike is denied as moot.
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.
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 Monellclaim 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.
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.
12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss Standard.
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)).
12(f) Motion to Strike Standard.
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).
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).
Motion to Dismiss
move to dismiss A.J.'s amended complaint for failure to
state a claim. For the following reasons, the motion is