United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
CARLOS J. SMITH, Plaintiff,
JOHN BIALIK, JAMES MANN, and the AMBRIDGE POLICE DEPARTMENT, Defendants.
R. Hornak Chief United States District Judge.
the Court is Defendant John Bialik's Motion to Dismiss
for failure to state a claim. (ECF No. 23.) For the reasons
that follow, Defendant's Motion is DENIED without
are the relevant facts, as alleged in the Amended Complaint:
On July 3, 2017, Plaintiff, Carlos J. Smith, entered Robert
Davis's apartment to charge his cell phone. (ECF No. 21
¶ 12.) Fifteen (15) minutes after he arrived,
individuals began pounding on the door and threatened to
shoot the occupants. (Id. ¶ 16.) Unbeknownst to
the occupants, the individuals at the door were police
officers. (Id. ¶ 17.) Smith, fearing for his
safety, hid near a closet. (Id. ¶¶ 18,
the Defendants, Officer John Bialik, eventually ordered Smith
to emerge from where he was hiding, handcuffed him, and
searched his person. (Id. ¶¶ 23, 24.)
Bialik then proceeded to search the closet and announced that
he found prescription pills. (Id. ¶¶ 25,
26.) Davis told Bialik that the pills belonged to a friend
who was not present. (Id. ¶ 28.) Despite
Davis's assertion, Bialik arrested Smith for unlawful
possession, for which he was subsequently charged.
(M¶¶29, 30, 33.)
were initiated in Beaver County and Smith was incarcerated
for over three (3) months awaiting trial. (Id.
¶ 53.) During a preliminary hearing, Bialik told
Smith's attorney that he did not want to press charges
and that there was a lack of evidence against Smith.
(Id. ¶ 41.) All charges were eventually
dismissed by the Assistant District Attorney. (Id.
this chain of events, Plaintiff filed suit against the
arresting officer (John Bialik), the former Ambridge Chief of
Police (James Mann), and the Ambridge Police Department. (ECF
No. 1.) Plaintiff sought damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 for: (1) alleged violations of the Fourth Amendment; (2)
false arrest; (3) malicious prosecution; and (4) conspiracy
to deprive civil rights. (Id.) On November 18, 2019,
Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a
claim. (ECF No. 16.) Plaintiff then moved for leave to amend
the Complaint, which was granted by the Court. (ECF Nos. 19,
20.) An Amended Complaint was filed on December 1, 2019,
asserting the same claims as set forth by the initial
Complaint. (ECF No. 21.) Defendant's original Motion to
Dismiss was dismissed without prejudice as moot and a
subsequent Motion to Dismiss was filed on December 16, 2019.
(ECF No. 23.) Briefing on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
at ECF No. 23 is now complete. (ECF Nos. 24, 25.)
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits dismissal for
failure "to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To overcome that
standard, a complaint must allege facts "sufficient to
show that the plaintiff has a 'plausible claim for
relief.'" Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578
F.3d 203, 211 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009)); see also Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)
(holding that a complaint must be dismissed if it does not
plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face."). When determining whether
dismissal is appropriate, the Court must: "(1)
identify the elements of the claim, (2) review the
complaint to strike conclusory allegations, and then (3)
look at the well-pleaded components of the complaint and
evaluat[e] whether all of the elements identified in part one
of the inquiry are sufficiently alleged." Malleus v.
George, 641 F.3d560, 563(3dCir. 2011).
Court, however, should "accept all factual allegations
as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable
to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable
reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to
relief." Blanyar v. Genova Prods. Inc., 861
F.3d 426, 431 (3d Cir. 2017) (citing Fowler, 578
F.3d at 210). And a Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the
sufficiency of the factual allegations contained in the
complaint-it does not resolve disputed facts or decide the
merits of the case. See Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d
176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993).
also worth noting that our Circuit has firmly held (as has
the Supreme Court) that a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 should not be considered "under a heightened
pleading requirement, but under the more liberal standards of
notice pleading" as set forth by Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 8. Alston v. Parker, 363 F.3d 229, 233 (3d
Cir. 2004) (citing Leatherman v. Tarrant Cty. Narcotics
Intelligence & Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 168
(1993)); see also Abbott v. Latshaw, 164 F.3d 141,
148 (3d Cir. 1998) (observing that nothing more is required
of § 1983 cases than the notice pleading requirement of
1983 provides a civil cause of action for a deprivation of
the "rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the
Constitution and laws" under color of state law. 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges that Bialik, an
Ambridge police officer, acted under color of state law and
asserts three claims under § 1983 against him: (1)
unlawful search in violation of the Fourth Amendment; (2)
unlawful seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment; and
(3) false ...