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Martin v. Cordrey

United States District Court, D. Delaware

September 5, 2017

BOOKER T. MARTIN, Plaintiff,
v.
DETECTIVE BRADLEY CORDREY, et al., Defendants.

          Booker T. Martin, Sussex Correctional Institution, Georgetown, Delaware, Pro Se Plaintiff.

          StephaniJ. Ballard, Esquire, Law Offices of StephaniJ. Ballard, LLC, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for Defendants Bradley Cordrey, Joel Diaz, and John Tyndall.

          Michael F. McTaggart, Deputy Attorney General Deputy, Delaware Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for Defendant Casey Ewart.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          STARK, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Booker T. Martin ("Plaintiff'), an inmate at the Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown, Delaware filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] (D.I. 3) He appears pro se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Pending are Defendants' motions to dismiss. (D.I. 16, 19) Because Plaintiff had taken no action in the case, he was ordered to show cause why the case should not be dismissed for failure to prosecute. Plaintiff responded to the show cause order and asks the Court to deny the motions to dismiss. (D.I. 22) The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant in part and deny in part the motion to dismiss filed by Defendants detective Bradley A. Cordrey ("Cordrey"), Cpl. Joel Diaz ("Diaz"), and Sgt. John Tyndall ("Tyndall"), will deny as premature without prejudice to renew their motion for summary judgment, and will grant Defendant Casey Ewart's Motion to dismiss.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The complaint (D.I. 3) alleges that on August 9 and 10, 2014, Plaintiff was arrested and charged with robbery, resisting arrest, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, tampering with evidence, and possession of a firearm by a person prohibited. Plaintiff alleges that he was acquitted. The Court takes judicial notice that Plaintiff was convicted of all charges after a four-day jury trial, his attorney filed a post-trial motion for judgment of acquittal, it was granted by the Superior Court of the State of Delaware, and all charges, except resisting arrest, were dismissed. See Miller v. State, 150 A.3d 1193 (table), 2016 WL 6471899 (Del. Nov. 1, 2016).

         Plaintiff raises the following claims: (1) Diaz violated his constitutional rights when he tased Plaintiff twice and used excessive force that caused physical damage to Plaintiffs face and left elbow at the time of Plaintiffs arrest, and Diaz did not seek medical care for him; (2) he was searched by Tyndall without a search warrant or probable cause after Plaintiff had already been searched and patted down by Diaz who had taken money from Plaintiffs pockets; (3) Cordrey left him overnight in a cold holding cell without water and medical attention, Cordrey filed false charges, and Cordrey perjured himself on the stand (apparently during Plaintiffs criminal trial); (4) he was maliciously prosecuted by attorney Ewart, and she conspired with Cordrey to support a false arrest that was not supported by probable cause. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

         Defendants Cordrey, Diaz, and Tyndall (collectively "Georgetown Police Defendants") move to dismiss or, or in the alternative for summary judgment, on the grounds that they are immune from suit under the doctrine of qualified immunity and/or the complaint fails to assert facts that could state a claim beyond a purely speculative level. (D.I. 16, 17) Ewart moves for dismissal on the grounds that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and she has prosecutorial immunity. (D.I. 19, 20) Plaintiff opposes the motions. (D.I. 22)

         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). A well-pleaded complaint must contain more than mere labels and conclusions. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to show that a claim has substantive plausibility. See Johnson v. City of Shelby, ___ U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. 346, 347 (2014). A complaint may not dismissed, however, for imperfect statements of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted. See Id. at 346. "To 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 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). 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." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. 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 is not obligated to accept as true "bald assertions, " Morse v. Lower Merlon 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 <& Eight Co., 113 F.3d 405, 417 (3d Cir. 1997), or allegations that are "self-evidently false, " Nam v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 69 (3d Cir. 1996).

         IV. DISCUSSION

&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;As an initial matter, the Court finds it appropriate to consider the Georgetown Police Defendants&#39; exhibits without converting their motion to dismiss to a motion for summary judgment. Although courts generally consider only the complaint, exhibits, and matters of public record in adjudicating a motion to dismiss, an undisputedly authentic document attached to the motion which forms the basis of a plaintiffs claim may be considered without converting to a summary judgment motion. See Pension Ben. Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc.,998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). A document forms the basis of a claim if it is "integral to or explicidy relied upon in the complaint." In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d at 1426. The allegations in the complaint must be based on the document; but the document does not need to be specifically cited in the complaint. See Id. The main concern with such documents is notice to the plaintiff, but this is not an issue when the plaintiff has relied upon the document in drafting the complaint. See Id. The Court may also take judicial notice of another court&#39;s record without converting to a summary judgment motion. See Pryor v. National Collegiate Athletic Ass&#39;n,288 F.3d 548, 560 (3d Cir. 2002). Georgetown Police Defendants' exhibits consists of a Superior Court criminal docket, arrest warrant, police reports, and a prisoner detention log - all of which will be considered by the Court. (D.I. 17) The Court ...


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