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Smith v. Forester

United States District Court, D. Delaware

February 12, 2014

JERRY L. SMITH, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
PATRICK FORESTER, et al., Defendants.

Jerry L. Smith, Sr., Frankford, Delaware, Pro Se Plaintiff.

David G. Culley, Esquire, Tybout, Redfearn & Pell, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

LEONARD P. STARK, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Jerry L. Smith, Sr. ("Plaintiff") filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his constitutional rights and raising supplemental State claims. (D.I. 1) He proceeds pro se and has paid the filing fee. The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Plaintiff amended the complaint (D.I. 4) on January 27, 2012, and Defendants moved to dismiss (D.I. 12). The motion was granted in part, and Plaintiff was given leave to amend. Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint (D.I. 27) on May 9, 2013. Presently before the Court is Defendants' partial motion to dismiss Plaintiffs second amended complaint (D.I. 28) and Plaintiffs opposition (D.I. 30) thereto. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant in part and deny in part the partial motion to dismiss.

II. BACKGROUND

While traveling in his vehicle on October 4, 2009, Plaintiff was stopped in Millsboro, Delaware. He was charged with violations under Delaware law for inattentive driving, must drive on the right side of the roadway, failure to have license in possession, failure to have registration card in possession, and failure to have insurance identification in possession. See 21 Del. C. §§ 2108, 2118, 2721, 4114, 4176(b). Two trials took place, and Plaintiff was acquitted of all charges.

In Count One, Plaintiff raises a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging a violation of Plaintiffs rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.[1] Count Two alleges conspiracy, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and § 1985. Counts Three, Four, and Five raise State claims under Delaware law for malicious prosecution, malicious abuse of process, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Finally, Count Six raises a raises a municipal liability claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

III. LEGAL STANDARDS

Evaluating a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) requires the Court to accept as true all material allegations of the complaint. See Spruill v. Gillis, 372 F.3d 218, 223 (3d Cir. 2004). "The issue is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1420 (3d Cir. 1997) (internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, the Court may grant such a motion to dismiss only if, after "accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, and viewing them in the light most favorable to plaintiff, plaintiff is not entitled to relief." Maio v. Aetna, Inc., 221 F.3d 472, 481-82 (3d Cir. 2000) (internal quotation marks omitted).

However, "[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a civil plaintiff must allege facts that raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).'" Victaulic Co. v. Tieman, 499 F.3d 227, 234 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible "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). At bottom, "[t]he complaint must state enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of [each] necessary element" of a plaintiffs claim. Wilkerson v. New Media Tech. Charter Sch. Inc., 522 F.3d 315, 321 (3d Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted).

The Court not obligated to accept as true "bald assertions, " Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997) (internal quotation marks omitted), "unsupported conclusions and unwarranted inferences, " Schuylkill Energy Res., Inc. v. Pennsylvania Power & Light Co., 113 F.3d 405, 417 (3d Cir. 1997), or allegations that are "self-evidently false, " Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 69 (3d Cir. 1996). Because Plaintiff proceeds pro se, his pleading is liberally construed and his Complaint, "however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (internal quotation marks omitted).

IV. DISCUSSION

Defendants move for partial dismissal of the second amended complaint on the grounds that Counts Two through Six fail to adequately plead a claim and that Counts Three through Five allege State tort claims that are barred by the ...


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