United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS [ECF NO. 10]
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
RICHARD A. LANZILLO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Richard Edward Weber commenced this civil rights action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the County
of Erie, Pennsylvania, and various Erie County officials
violated his constitutional rights during his criminal
prosecution in the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County. ECF
No. 1. Defendants have moved to dismiss Weber's Complaint
[ECF No. 10] pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will
grant Defendants' motion.
to Weber's Complaint and the exhibits attached thereto,
Weber was arrested on May 24, 2018, and charged with three
counts of access device fraud, three counts of identity
theft, and three counts of theft by deception. ECF No. 1,
¶ 10. Magisterial District Judge Paul Bizzarro
subsequently released Weber on a $25, 000 unsecured bond.
Id. On August 22, 2018, and September 18, 2018,
Defendant Jeremy Lightner, an Assistant District Attorney for
Erie County, successfully petitioned for Weber's bond to
be increased to $50, 000, with 10% cash security, which
Plaintiff posted. Id. at ¶¶ 11-14. On
September 26, 2018, Defendant Lightner sought and obtained a
further modification of Weber's bond. Id. at
¶ 15. This time, Weber's bond was increased to $250,
000 "straight cash," which Weber was unable to
post. Id. at ¶ 16. Consequently, Weber was
detained in the Erie County Prison for approximately two and
one-half months pending trial on the charges against him.
detained, Weber moved pro se to modify his bond, and the
motion was heard by Judge Daniel Brabender of the Court of
Common Pleas of Erie County on November 19, 2016.
Id. at ¶¶ 17-18. Defendant Nicholas
Maskrey, another Erie County Assistant District Attorney,
opposed Weber's motion. Id. at ¶ 18.
Despite this opposition, the Court reduced Weber's bond
to 10% of $17, 500, which Weber posted to secure his pretrial
release. Id. at ¶¶ 18-19. Weber claims
that the "unlawful and unconstitutional 2 Vi
month period of incarceration" caused his to suffer a
variety of damages, including the loss of his employment, the
loss of his residence, and the demise of his marriage.
Id. at ¶ 19.
Exhibit D to his Complaint, Weber attached the
Commonwealth's Motion to Revoke Bond, which Defendant
Michael Burns, another Erie County Assistant District
Attorney filed on September 18, 2018. ECF 1-3, pp. 1-9.
Included in that document is a Police Criminal Complaint
filed on September 13, 2018, charging Weber with three
additional counts of access device fraud, two additional
counts of theft by deception, and one new count of attempted
theft by deception. Id. pp. 4-6.
Complaint asserts that Defendants Burns, Lightner, and
Maskrey filed "aggressive, persistent, habitual and
harassing motions" to modify his bail amounts, which
constituted: (1) "unlawful and unreasonable seizure and
unlawful arrest" in violation of the Fourth Amendment,
(2) excessive bail in violation of the 8th
Amendment, and (3) a civil conspiracy. He additionally
asserts a claim against Erie County pursuant to Monell v.
Dep't of Soc. Servs. Of City of N.Y., 436 U.S. 658
(1978), and a claim against Defendant Jack Daneri, the Erie
County District Attorney, for "failure to properly train
and closely monitor the elicit (sic) conduct of their
motion seeks dismissal of Weber's claims on the following
grounds: (1) Burns, Lightner, and Maskrey are protected by
absolute prosecutorial immunity; (2) the Complaint fails to
state a claim against Defendant Kathy Dahlkemper, the Erie
County Executive, because it does not allege facts to support
her personal involvement in any actionable conduct; (3) the
Complaint fails to allege facts sufficient to support a
"failure to train/supervise" claim against District
Attorney Jack Daneri; and (4) the Complaint fails to state a
Monell claim against Erie County because it does not
allege facts to support a policy or custom that resulted in
constitutional harm to Weber. This matter is fully briefed and
ripe for disposition.
Standards of Review
Pro se Litigants
se pleadings, "however inartfully pleaded,"
must be held to "less stringent standards than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers." Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-521 (1972). If the court can
reasonably read pleadings to state a valid claim on which the
litigant could prevail, it should do so despite failure to
cite proper legal authority, confusion of legal theories,
poor syntax and sentence construction, or litigant's
unfamiliarity with pleading requirements. Boag v.
MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364 (1982); United States ex
rel. Montgomery v. Bierley, 141 F.2d 552, 555 (3d Cir.
1969) (petition prepared by a prisoner may be inartfully
drawn and should be read "with a measure of
tolerance"); Smith v. U.S. District Court, 956
F.2d 295 (D.C. Cir. 1992); Freeman v. Dep't of
Corrections, 949 F.2d 360 (10th Cir. 1991). Under our
liberal pleading rules, during the initial stages of
litigation, a district court should construe all allegations
in a complaint in favor of the complainant. Gibbs v.
Roman, 116 F.3d 83 (3d Cir. 1997). See, e.g., Nami
v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1996) (discussing
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) standard); Markowitz v. Northeast
Land Co., 906 F.2d 100, 103 (3d Cir. 1990) (same).
Motion to Dismiss
motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint.
Kost v. Kozakiewicz,1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993).
In deciding a motion to dismiss, the court is not opining on
whether the plaintiff will be likely to prevail on the
merits; rather, the plaintiff must only present factual
allegations sufficient "to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly,550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007) (citing 5 C. Wright
& A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure
§ 1216, pp. 235-236 (3d ed. 2004)). See also
Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662 (2009)). A complaint
should only be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12 (b)(6) if it
fails to allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550
U.S. at 570 (rejecting the traditional 12 (b)(6) standard
established in Conley v. Gibson,355 U.S. 41
(1957)). In making this ...