United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
A.J. and K.J., Plaintiffs,
LANCASTER COUNTY; CRYSTAL A. NATAN, Executive Director; ROBIN BOYER; ALEXIS PALMER; CHRISTOPHER HORNBERGER; CHRISTINE SEBASTIAN-BAIR; COURTNEY J. RESTEMAYER, ESQ.; PAT DOES #1-10; ATTORNEY DOES #1-10, Defendants.
OPINION DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS TO DISMISS, ECF NO.
30 - GRANTED DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS AND STRIKE,
ECF NO. 31 - GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART AS
F. LEESON, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the biological parent of a minor initiated this action
against Lancaster County, Crystal Natan, Robin Boyer, Alexis
Palmer, Christopher Hornberger, Courtney Restemayer, Esq.,
David J. Natan, Esq., (collectively, “the
County”); and Christine Sebastian-Bair (collectively,
“Defendants”). Now, A.J. and A.J. (collectively
“Parents”), the parents of the minor, assert, on
behalf of themselves, claims of civil rights violations they
allegedly sustained in connection with an investigation by
Defendants of child abuse involving their child. This Court
previously dismissed the first amended complaint when A.J.
was the sole Plaintiff. Parents have filed a second amended
complaint. The County and Sebastian-Bair have each moved to
dismiss for failure to state a claim. Sebastian-Bair has
additionally moved to strike Parents' second amended
complaint for failure to provide a short and plain statement
showing the pleader is entitled to relief.
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 a 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 ECF No. 1. On July 9,
2019, A.J. filed his first amended complaint asserting
additional claims pursuant to § 1983. See ECF
County filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
on July 23, 2019. See 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 ECF
Court dismissed A.J.'s first amended complaint on October
11, 2019. See ECF No. 28. Parents then filed their
second amended complaint on November 1, 2019, including K.J.
as a Plaintiff. See ECF No. 29. The second amended
complaint asserts violations pursuant to the Fourteenth
Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The
County has filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a
claim. See ECF No. 30. Sebastian-Bair has also 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 ECF No. 31. Parents have
responded to the motions and the matter is ready for review.
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)).