LEBEAU v. RAITH et al
MEMORANDUM. SIGNED BY HONORABLE GENE E.K. PRATTER ON 5/23/2017. 5/24/2017 ENTERED AND COPIES E-MAILED.(amas)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
MICHAEL W. RAITH et al.,
MAY 23, 2017
Maureen LeBeau brings this action against (i) Delaware County Adult Probation and
Parole (“DCAPP”), Leanne Montgomery, Michael Raith, Danielle Hibberd, and Christine Katch
(the “Probation Defendants”), and (ii) Community Education Centers, Inc. (“CEC”), George W.
Hill Correctional Facility (“GWHCF”), 1 James Mattera, and Ms. Cummings (the “Prison
Defendants”). Ms. LeBeau alleges violations of federal and state law arising out of her arrest
and detention in connection with a bench warrant. Ms. LeBeau alleges that the bench warrant
was issued because Ms. Montgomery improperly reported that Ms. LeBeau was not in
compliance with the conditions of her probation. Ms. LeBeau asserts (i) Fourth, Eighth, and
Fourteenth Amendment claims against all defendants, (ii) a Monell claim against DCAPP and
CEC, (iii) a state law claim for false imprisonment against all defendants, (iv) a state law claim
for false arrest against the Probation Defendants, (v) a state law claim for negligence against the
Prison Defendants, and (vi) a state law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress
against the Prison Defendants. The Probation and Prison Defendants moved to dismiss the
GWHCF is a private prison owned and operated by CEC.
claims against them. For the reasons that follow, the Probation Defendants’ motion is granted in
part and denied in part and the Prison Defendants’ motion is granted in its entirety.
ALLEGATIONS IN THE COMPLAINT
Ms. LeBeau entered into a guilty plea in August 2013 in connection with a DUI charge.
A condition of Ms. LeBeau’s guilty plea was to complete a drug and alcohol counseling
evaluation. While Ms. LeBeau completed the evaluation and submitted the certificate of
completion in a timely manner to Ms. Montgomery, her probation officer, Ms. Montgomery
purposefully failed to record Ms. LeBeau’s completion of the drug and alcohol counseling
evaluation. Ms. Montgomery then “wrongly and with malice reported . . . that [Ms. LeBeau] was
out of compliance with the conditions of her probation.” Compl. ¶ 24 (Doc. No. 1). This
resulted in a bench warrant being issued for Ms. LeBeau’s arrest. Ms. LeBeau was not aware of
the bench warrant’s existence.
On January 15, 2015, Ms. LeBeau was arrested in Delaware County during a routine
traffic stop as a result of the outstanding bench warrant. Following the arrest, Ms. LeBeau was
taken into custody on a 72-hour warrant and detained at GWHCF. Ms. LeBeau was not
permitted a phone call, 2 allowed any visitors, or given the opportunity to speak with a judge.
Prison personnel did not inform Ms. LeBeau that an outstanding bench warrant was the basis for
her arrest and detention until after Ms. LeBeau had already been detained for several days. Ms.
LeBeau repeatedly complained to prison personnel that her detention was in error, but prison
personnel took no immediate action to investigate Ms. LeBeau’s complaints. Ms. LeBeau was
only able to speak with a case manager after “many days” of complaints. After speaking with a
Ms. LeBeau was ultimately permitted to call her son to inform him where she was being
held. The complaint does not specify how many hours or days passed before she was allowed
this phone call.
case manager, Ms. LeBeau was permitted to call her probation officer. 3 Ms. LeBeau was
released after speaking with her probation officer. Ms. LeBeau’s detention lasted for 8 days.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) authorizes testing the legal sufficiency of a
complaint. Although Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 requires only “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,” in order to “give the
defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests,” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted)
(alteration in original), the plaintiff must provide “more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id. (citation omitted).
To survive a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must plead “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). Specifically, “[f]actual allegations must be enough
to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . .” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations
omitted). The question is not whether the claimant will ultimately prevail, but whether the
complaint is “sufficient to cross the federal court’s threshold.” Skinner v. Switzer, 562 U.S. 521,
To decide a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court may look only to the facts alleged
in the complaint and its attachments. See Jordan v. Fox, Rothschild, O’Brien & Frankel, 20 F.3d
1250, 1261 (3d Cir. 1994). The Court may also consider documents that are “integral to or
explicitly relied upon in the complaint . . . without converting the motion [to dismiss] into one
for summary judgment.” In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir.
While the complaint does not state that this probation officer was Ms. Montgomery, the
complaint elsewhere identifies Ms. Montgomery as Ms. LeBeau’s probation officer. See Compl.
1997) (citation omitted). The Court must accept as true all well-pleaded allegations in the
complaint and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Angelastro v. PrudentialBache Sec., Inc., 764 F.2d 939, 944 (3d Cir. 1985). Likewise, the Court must accept as true all
reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the allegations, and view those facts and
inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Rocks v. City of Phila., 868
F.2d 644, 645 (3d Cir. 1989).
Additionally, a district court can grant a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1)
based on the legal insufficiency of the claim. Kalick v. United States, 604 F. App’x. 108, 111
(3d Cir. 2015). In moving to dismiss a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), a party may challenge a
court’s jurisdiction either facially (based on the legal sufficiency of the claim) or factually (based
on the sufficiency of jurisdictional fact). Endl v. New Jersey, 5 F. Supp. 3d 689, 695-96 (D.N.J.
2014). Dismissal under a facial challenge is proper “only when the claim clearly appears to be
immaterial and made solely for the purpose of obtaining jurisdiction . . . or is wholly
insubstantial and frivolous.” Medtronic Vascular, Inc. v. Boston Sci. Corp, 348 F. Supp. 2d 316,
321 (D. Del. 2004) (internal quotation marks omitted). In this circumstance, a court must accept
as true all of the allegations contained in the complaint. Id.
Where subject matter jurisdiction “in fact” is challenged, the trial court’s very power to
hear the case is at issue, and the court is therefore “free to weigh the evidence and satisfy itself as
to the power to hear the case.” Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass’n, 549 F.2d 884, 891
(3d Cir. 1977). In such an attack pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), “no presumptive truthfulness
attaches to plaintiff’s allegations, and the existence of disputed material facts will not preclude
the trial court from evaluating for itself the merits of jurisdictional claims.” Carpet Group Int’l
v. Oriental Rug Importers Ass’n, Inc., 227 F.3d 62, 69 (3d Cir. 2000). Where a defendant attacks
a court’s factual basis for exercising subject matter jurisdiction, the plaintiff must meet the
burden of proving that jurisdiction is appropriate. Id.
Claims Against DCAPP
Ms. LeBeau’s claims against DCAPP fail on Eleventh Amendment immunity grounds.
The Eleventh Amendment prohibits suits against states and state agencies and departments.
Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984). Non-consenting states are
immune from suit both from their own citizens and citizens of other states. Emps. of Dep’t of
Public Health & Welfare, Mo. v. Dep’t of Public Health & Welfare, Mo., 411 U.S. 279, 280
(1973). Probation and parole departments are state entities for Eleventh Amendment immunity
purposes. Haybarger v. Lawrence Cty. Adult Probation & Parole, 551 F.3d 193, 198 (3d Cir.
2008); Benn v. First Judicial Dist. of Pa., 426 F.3d 233, 241 (3d Cir. 2005).
Eleventh Amendment immunity “deprives federal courts of subject matter jurisdiction.”
Blanciak v. Allegheny Ludlum Corp., 77 F.3d 690, 693 n.2 (3d Cir. 1996). There are three
primary exceptions to Eleventh Amendment immunity: (i) congressional abrogation, (ii) waiver
by the state, and (iii) suits against individual state officials for prospective injunctive and
declaratory relief. Pa. Fed’n of Sportsmen’s Clubs, Inc. v. Hess, 297 F.3d 310, 323 (3d Cir.
2002). None of these exceptions are applicable here.
First, § 1983 does not abrogate states’ Eleventh Amendment immunity. Will v. Mich.
Dep’t of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 76 (1989); Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 345 (1979).
Second, Pennsylvania has not waived its right to rely on Eleventh Amendment immunity. See 1
Pa.C.S. 2310; 42 Pa.C.S. 8522(b). Last, this suit does not seek prospective injunctive and
declaratory relief. Accordingly, the Court must dismiss with prejudice all claims against DCAPP
pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. See Ward v. Pa., No.
14-17, 2014 WL 4682067, at *4 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 22, 2014) (dismissing federal law claims against
DCAPP on Eleventh Immunity grounds for lack of subject matter jurisdiction).
Official Capacity Claims Against the Individual Probation Defendants
Eleventh Amendment immunity extends to official capacity suits for damages against
probation and parole department employees. J.C. v. Ford, --- F. App’x ---, 2016 WL 7422700, at
*1 (3d Cir. Dec. 23, 2016); see also 1 Pa.C.S. 2310. Accordingly, the Court must dismiss with
prejudice all official capacity claims against Defendants Raith, Hibberd, Katch, and Montgomery
for the reasons stated above.
Section 1983 Claims Against the Individual Defendants in their
Section 1983 affords individuals with a remedy when state actors violate their federally
protected rights. See Kopec v. Tate, 361 F.3d 772, 775-76 (3d Cir. 2004). In order to make out a
cognizable § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must establish “that a person acting under color of law
deprived him of a federal right.” Berg v. Cty. of Allegheny, 219 F.3d 261, 268 (3d Cir. 2000). In
order to sustain a § 1983 claim against an individual acting under the color of state law, a
plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant was personally involved in the alleged violations of
his or her federal rights. Rode v. Dellarciprete, 845 F.2d 1195, 1207 (3d Cir. 1988). “Personal
involvement can be shown through allegations of personal direction or of actual knowledge and
acquiescence.” Id. Ms. LeBeau argues that Ms. Montgomery caused her unconstitutional arrest
and detention by improperly reporting that Ms. LeBeau was not in compliance with her guilty
plea agreement. The complaint does not contain any allegations that are specific to Defendants
Raith, Hibberd, Katch, Cummings, or Mattera.
Claims Against Ms. Montgomery
a. Fourth Amendment False Arrest/Imprisonment Claim
Section 1983 claims for false arrest implicate the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against
unreasonable searches and seizures. Berg, 219 F.3d at 269. A § 1983 false imprisonment claim
similarly implicates the Fourth Amendment when it “is based on an arrest made without probable
cause.” Groman v. Twp. of Manalapan, 47 F.3d 628, 636 (3d Cir. 1995). Accordingly, the
Court will interpret Ms. LeBeau’s § 1983 false arrest and imprisonment claims against Ms.
Montgomery as arising under the Fourth Amendment.
To prevail on a Fourth Amendment false arrest claim, a plaintiff must demonstrate that he
or she was arrested without probable cause. Berg, 219 F.3d at 269. A warrant issued without
proper justification cannot provide probable cause for an arrest. Id. at 269-70. A government
official that causes an individual’s arrest without probable cause is as liable for a Fourth
Amendment violation as the government official who carries out the arrest. Id. at 272. “It is
thus clear that § 1983 liability for an unlawful arrest can extend beyond the arresting officer to
other officials whose intentional actions set the arresting officer in motion.” Id.
Ms. Montgomery argues that Ms. LeBeau has failed to state a viable Fourth Amendment
claim against her because there is no allegation that Ms. Montgomery (i) actually arrested
Ms. LeBeau, (ii) actually requested the bench warrant, or (iii) acted intentionally. Alternatively,
Ms. Montgomery asserts that she is entitled to qualified immunity.
Reading the complaint in the light most favorable to Ms. LeBeau, the Court finds that
Ms. LeBeau has stated a plausible Fourth Amendment claim against Ms. Montgomery for
causing her unlawful arrest and detention. Ms. LeBeau alleges that (i) she submitted the drug
and alcohol evaluation completion certificate to Ms. Montgomery in satisfaction of the
requirements of her guilty plea agreement, (ii) Ms. Montgomery willfully refused to record
receipt of the certificate, (iii) Ms. Montgomery maliciously reported that Ms. LeBeau was not in
compliance with the conditions of her probation, and (iv) Ms. Montgomery’s actions caused her
unlawful arrest and detention. These allegations are sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss.
See Johnson v. City of Phila., No. 13-2963, 2013 WL 4014565, at *4 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 7, 2013)
(finding that an allegation that a police officer intentionally sought a bench warrant unsupported
by probable cause adequately pleaded a Fourth Amendment violation); Duffy v. Cty. of Bucks, 7
F. Supp. 2d 569, 579 (E.D. Pa. 1998) (finding that a complaint alleging that a probation officer
“intentionally sought the issuance of an arrest warrant” even though the probation officer knew
the plaintiff was not in violation of his probation adequately stated a constitutional violation).
Ms. Montgomery is not protected by qualified immunity. To determine whether a
government official is entitled to the benefits of qualified immunity, a court must consider “(1)
whether the official's conduct violated a constitutional or federal right; and (2) whether the right
at issue was ‘clearly established.’” Sharp v. Johnson, 669 F.3d 144, 159 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing
Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001)). The Court has already determined that Ms. LeBeau
adequately alleges that Ms. Montgomery’s conduct violated the Fourth Amendment. It is also
clear that Ms. LeBeau’s right to be free from a government official causing her arrest and
detention without probable cause was clearly established at the time in question. See Berg, 219
F.3d at 272. Accordingly, qualified immunity is not appropriate. See Johnson, 2013 WL
4014565, at *5 (denying qualified immunity on motion to dismiss where police officer was
alleged to have intentionally sought a bench warrant unsupported by probable cause).
b. Eighth Amendment Overdetention Claim
Imprisonment beyond one’s term of incarceration can serve as the basis for an Eighth
Amendment claim. Sample v. Diecks, 885 F.2d 1099, 1108 (3d Cir. 1989). Ms. LeBeau’s
allegations, however, do not implicate the Eighth Amendment because there is no allegation that
Ms. LeBeau was imprisoned beyond a court-sanctioned release date.
Eighth Amendment overdetention claims based on Sample must implicate an inmate’s
detention beyond the inmate’s legally recognized release date. Wharton v. Danberg, 854 F.3d
234, 241 (3d Cir. 2017) (“An inmate’s detention after his term of imprisonment can, under
certain circumstances, constitute cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the Eighth
Amendment.”); Moore v. Tartler, 986 F.2d 682, 686 (3d Cir. 1993) (“Subjecting a prisoner to
detention beyond the termination of his sentence has been held to violate the eighth amendment's
proscription against cruel and usual punishment.”). Here, Ms. LeBeau was detained based on a
probation violation. There is no allegation in the complaint that any defendant detained
Ms. LeBeau for a period of time beyond a court-sanctioned release date. Courts generally
undertake a due process analysis when faced with analogous factual scenarios. See infra Section
III.C.1.c. Accordingly, Ms. LeBeau has not pleaded a viable Eighth Amendment claim against
c. Fourteenth Amendment Procedural Due Process Claim
The Fourteenth Amendment protects against state actors depriving individuals of their
life, liberty, or property without due process of law. To state a plausible § 1983 procedural due
process claim, a plaintiff must allege that (i) he or she was deprived of an interest protected by
the Fourteenth Amendment, and (ii) the available procedures did not constitute due process of
law. Hill v. Borough of Kutztown, 455 F.3d 225, 233-34 (3d Cir. 2006).
It has been clearly established for over four decades that parolees and probationers have a
constitutionally protected liberty interest in remaining free to live their life outside the confines
of prison walls. Gagnon v. Scarpelli, 411 U.S. 778, 782 (1973) (holding that probationers have a
liberty interest in remaining free on probation); Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471, 482 (1972)
(holding that parolees have a liberty interest in remaining free on parole). In order to comport
with due process, a state must provide two distinct hearings after detaining an individual for a
parole or probation violation. Gagnon, 411 U.S. at 782; Morrissey, 408 U.S. at 485-88; Heilman
v. T.W. Ponessa & Assocs., No. 08-1667, 2009 WL 82707, at *1 n.1 (3d Cir. Jan. 14, 2009).
First is a preliminary hearing to determine whether or not there is probable cause for the
revocation. Gagnon, 411 U.S. at 782; Morrissey, 408 U.S. at 485. Due process requires that this
hearing occur “as promptly as convenient after [an] arrest” as possible. Morrissey, 408 U.S. at
485. Second is a final revocation hearing to determine whether or not the individual should
remain detained. Id. at 487-88. The final revocation hearing must take place within a
“reasonable time.” Id. at 488. In the probation context, these hearings are referred to as Gagnon
I and Gagnon II hearings.
The complaint contains no allegations connecting Ms. Montgomery to Ms. LeBeau’s
detention beyond 72 hours, the length of time for which she alleges the bench warrant authorized
her detention. In fact, there is no allegation that Ms. Montgomery was even aware that Ms.
LeBeau was arrested. The only arguable allegation with regard to Ms. Montgomery’s
knowledge of Ms. LeBeau’s arrest and detention is that, after Ms. LeBeau was able to call her
probation officer, that probation officer arranged for Ms. LeBeau’s prompt release. Without an
allegation that Ms. Montgomery was personally involved in Ms. LeBeau’s alleged overdetention,
Ms. LeBeau’s procedural due process claim against Ms. Montgomery must fail. 4
Even if the complaint alleged personal involvement on behalf of Ms. Montgomery, or
any other defendant, in connection with Ms. LeBeau’s alleged overdetention, the Court is not
convinced that Ms. LeBeau has a cognizable procedural due process claim. Ms. LeBeau was
detained for 8 days. Pennsylvania law mandates that a Gagnon I hearing take place within 14
days of a probationer’s detention. 37 Pa. Code. § 71.2(1)(ii). Ms. LeBeau did not bring any case
law to the Court’s attention suggesting that this timeframe does not comport with due process.
The Court’s own research showed that cases involving an 8-day or longer gap between
detainment and a Gagnon I hearing made no mention that such a delay was problematic. See,
d. Fourteenth Amendment Substantive Due Process Claim
When constitutional claims are “covered by a specific constitutional provision, such as
the Fourth or Eighth Amendment, the claim must be analyzed under the standard appropriate to
that specific provision, not under the rubric of substantive due process.” United States v. Lanier,
520 U.S. 259, 272 n.7 (1997). Here, the allegations against Ms. Montgomery are covered by the
Fourth Amendment. See Spiker v. Allegheny Cty. Bd. of Probation & Parole, 920 F. Supp. 2d
580, 594 (W.D. Pa. 2013) (addressing false arrest/imprisonment-type claims under the Fourth
Amendment and declining to address them under the rubric of substantive due process).
Accordingly, Ms. LeBeau has not pleaded a viable substantive due process claim against
Claims Against Defendants Raith, Hibberd, Katch, Cummings, and
Ms. LeBeau has not pleaded viable § 1983 claims against Defendants Raith, Hibberd,
Katch, Cummings, or Mattera because the complaint does not allege any personal involvement
with respect to those defendants in connection with the alleged violations of Ms. LeBeau’s
constitutional rights. See Rode, 845 F.2d at 1207 (explaining that a plaintiff must demonstrate
that an individual was personally involved in the alleged constitutional violations in order to
sustain a § 1983 claim against an individual defendant). In fact, the complaint does not make
any reference to these individuals after their respective introductions in the complaint’s “Parties”
section. Accordingly, Ms. LeBeau has not pleaded a viable § 1983 claim against Defendants
Raith, Hibberd, Katch, Cummings, or Mattera.
e.g., Beaver v. Del. Cty. Probation & Parole, No. 15-2784, 2016 WL 4366977, at *1 (E.D. Pa.
Aug. 16, 2016) (no mention that 13-day gap between arrest and Gagnon I hearing was
problematic); Regelman v. Weber, No. 10-675, 2012 WL 4498842, at *12 (W.D. Pa. Sept. 28,
2012) (no mention that 11- or 21-day gap between arrest and Gagnon I hearing was
problematic); Adam v. Jones, No. 96-4377, 1999 WL 178365, at *9 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 30, 1999)
(Gagnon I hearing held “a few weeks” after arrest did not violate due process).
Claims Against GWHCF
At oral argument on the pending motions, Ms. LeBeau’s counsel confirmed that
Ms. LeBeau did not object to the Prison Defendants’ motion to dismiss with respect to GWHCF
because GWHCF is not an entity amenable to suit. See Regan v. Upper Darby Twp., No. 061686, 2009 WL 650384, at *4-*5 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 11, 2009), aff’d, 363 F. App’x 917 (3d Cir.
2009) (collecting cases holding that correctional facilities, such as GWHCF, are not legal entities
amenable to suit). Accordingly, all claims against GWHCF are dismissed with prejudice.
Monell Claim Against CEC 5
Pursuant to Monell v. City of New York Dep’t of Social Servs., a plaintiff can sue a
municipality for an action or omission by the municipality, or its policymaker, that is the
“moving force” behind an alleged constitutional violation. 436 U.S. 658, 694-95 (1978). A
plaintiff can sue a private entity pursuant to Monell only if the private entity performs municipal
functions. Kanu v. Lindsey, No. 13-6451, 2016 WL 1086565, at *3 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 21, 2016)
(finding CEC subject to Monell liability); Cloyd v. Del. Cty., No. 14-4833, 2015 WL 5302736, at
*2 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 10, 2015) (same). A plaintiff cannot succeed on a Monell claim on the basis
of respondeat superior. Rather, a plaintiff must show that the municipality itself was responsible
for the alleged constitutional violation. Andrews v. City of Phila., 895 F.2d 1469, 1480 (3d Cir.
Ms. LeBeau has also asserted claims against Defendants Cummings and Mattera in their
official capacities. Because “an official-capacity suit is, in all respects other than name, to be
treated as a suit against the entity,” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985), Ms.
LeBeau’s claims against Defendants Cummings and Mattera in their official capacities are
dismissed with prejudice as duplicative of Ms. LeBeau’s Monell claim against CEC. See
Rosembert v. Borough of E. Lansdowne, 14 F. Supp. 3d 631, 638 n.5 (E.D. Pa. 2014) (dismissing
official capacity claims against municipal employees where the same claim was brought against
A plaintiff can demonstrate municipal responsibility by establishing that “the alleged
constitutional transgression implements or executes a policy, regulation or decision officially
adopted by the governing body or informally adopted by custom.” Beck v. City of Pittsburgh, 89
F.3d 966, 971 (3d Cir. 1996). Accordingly, a municipality can only be held liable pursuant to
§ 1983 if a plaintiff’s claim is premised upon a municipal policy or custom. Id.; see also
McTernan v. City of York, Pa., 564 F.3d 636, 657 (3d Cir. 2009). The Third Circuit Court of
Appeals has explained:
A government policy or custom can be established in two ways. Policy is made
when a ‘decisionmaker possess[ing] final authority to establish a municipal policy
with respect to the action’ issues an official proclamation, policy, or edict. A
course of conduct is considered to be a ‘custom’ when, though not authorized by
law, ‘such practices of state officials [are] so permanently and well-settled’ as to
virtually constitute law.
McTernan, 564 F.3d at 658 (quoting Andrews, 895 F.2d at 1480). Whether a plaintiff’s claim is
premised on a municipal policy or a municipal custom, a plaintiff must demonstrate “that a
policymaker is responsible either for the policy or, through acquiescence, for the custom.”
Andrews, 895 F.2d at 1480. In order to state a plausible Monell claim, a plaintiff must “specify
what exactly that custom or policy was.” Id. at 658.
The allegations relevant to Ms. LeBeau’s Monell claim against CEC are as follows:
98. At all times material hereto, Defendants instituted policies and procedures within the
George W. Hill Correctional Facility, with indifference to the constitutional rights of the
inmates of the George W. Hill Correctional Facility, including, but not limited to
99. Those policies and procedures include the creation and promotion of an atmosphere
where corrections officers ignore the reasonable complaints of inmates concerning
overdetention, including Plaintiff, as aforementioned.
Compl. ¶¶ 98-99. Ms. LeBeau’s allegations that she “raised repeated complaints” about her
illegal detention and that the “Defendants took no action” are the primary factual allegations in
support of the alleged unconstitutional policies and procedures. See Compl. ¶ 43. These
allegations, however, do not sufficiently state a plausible Monell claim, whether based on a
municipal policy or a municipal custom.
With regard to a municipal policy or procedure, Ms. LeBeau fails to cite any specific
policies or procedures; she only generally alleges that CEC maintained “policies and procedures”
that resulted in correctional officers ignoring prisoner complaints of overdetention. Without
alleging a specific policy or procedure, it is not possible to assess whether or not there is “a
direct causal link between the municipal action” and the alleged constitutional violation. See Bd.
of Cty. Comm’rs of Bryan Cty., Okl. v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 404 (1997).
Ms. LeBeau argues her allegation that multiple GWHCF employees ignored her
complaints regarding her detention over the course of multiple days suffices to make out an
inference of a municipal custom. The Court does not agree. Even taking these facts as true, as
the Court must on this motion to dismiss, the Court does not find that Ms. LeBeau has
adequately pleaded that CEC had “knowledge of, and acquiesce[d] to” a course of conduct that
was sufficiently widespread as to have the force of law. See Watson v. Abington Twp., 478 F.3d
144, 155-56 (3d Cir. 2007). 6
State Law Claims
1. False Arrest/Imprisonment Claim Against Ms. Montgomery 7
In order to state a plausible state law claim for false arrest/imprisonment, a plaintiff must
allege that an officer (i) intentionally caused his or her arrest knowing that (ii) there was no
Whether premised on a municipal policy or custom, Ms. LeBeau’s Monell claim fails for
the independent reason that she failed to allege any act or omission on the part of a municipal
policymaker. See McTernan, 564 F.3d at 658 (“Equally fatal, the four allegations in the
complaint relevant to [plaintiff’s] Monell claim fail to allege conduct by a municipal
decisionmaker.”); Andrews, 895 F.2d at 1480 (explaining that in order to succeed on a Monell
claim, a plaintiff must “show that a policymaker is responsible either for the policy or, through
acquiescence, for the custom”).
probable cause for the arrest. Brockington v. City of Phila., 354 F. Supp. 2d 563, 571-72 (E.D.
Pa. 2005); see also Renk v. City of Pittsburgh, 641 A.2d 289, 293 (1994). For the reasons
discussed above, see supra Section III.C.1.a, Ms. LeBeau has pleaded a plausible state law false
arrest/imprisonment claim against Ms. Montgomery.
Ms. Montgomery argues that, as a state employee, Pennsylvania’s sovereign immunity
statute immunizes her from liability for all actions taken within the scope of her employment.
Ms. LeBeau responds that Ms. Montgomery is not entitled to the benefit of Pennsylvania’s
sovereign immunity statute because she was not acting within the scope of her employment when
she knowingly caused a bench warrant to be issued for Ms. LeBeau’s arrest without probable
Pennsylvania’s sovereign immunity statute states, in relevant part:
Pursuant to section 11 of Article 1 of the Constitution of Pennsylvania, it is hereby
declared to be the intent of the General Assembly that the Commonwealth, and its
officials and employees acting within the scope of their duties, shall continue to enjoy
sovereign immunity and official immunity and remain immune from suit except as the
General Assembly shall specifically waive the immunity.
1 Pa.C.S. § 2310; see also Foster v. McLaughlin, 203 F. Supp. 3d 483, 488 (E.D. Pa. 2016). 8 An
employee acts within the scope of his or her employment if the conduct at issue (i) “is of the kind
he is employed to perform”; (ii) “occurs substantially within the authorized time and space
limits”; and (iii) “is actuated, at least in part, by a purpose to serve the master.” Worth & Co.,
Inc. v. Getzie, 11 F. Supp. 3d 484, 495 (E.D. Pa. 2014) (quoting the Restatement (Second) of
Agency § 228(1), which Pennsylvania has adopted). “Intentional torts that are unprovoked,
Ms. LeBeau also asserts state law false arrest and imprisonment claims against
Defendants Raith, Hibberd, and Katch. Because Ms. LeBeau has not alleged any actions or
inactions by Defendants Raith, Hibberd, or Katch, Ms. LeBeau’s state law false arrest and
imprisonment claims fail as to those defendants.
Pennsylvania has expressly waived its sovereign immunity only in 9 limited
circumstances not relevant to the facts of this case. See 42 Pa.C.S. § 8522(b).
unnecessary or unjustified by security concerns or penological goals do not, as a matter of law,
fall within the scope of employment.” Minyard v. City of Phila., No. 11-246, 2012 WL
3090973, at *6 (E.D. Pa. July 31, 2012) (quotation marks and citation omitted). False arrest and
false imprisonment are intentional torts. Watson v. Witmer, 183 F. Supp. 3d 607, 616 (M.D. Pa.
Here, Ms. LeBeau alleges that Ms. Montgomery knowingly caused her arrest without
probable cause. Improperly causing the arrest of another does not serve the interests of DCAPP
and, accordingly, does not constitute conduct within scope of Ms. Montgomery’s employment.
See Johnson, 2013 WL 4014565, at *6-*7 (determining that purposefully seeking an erroneous
warrant places an official’s actions outside the scope of his employment); Perkins v. Staskiewicz,
No. 08-1651, 2009 WL 693176, at *4 (M.D. Pa. Mar. 13, 2009) (determining that an officer who
knowingly makes an arrest without probable cause acts outside the scope of his employment).
Accordingly, Ms. Montgomery is not immune from Ms. LeBeau’s state law claims.
2. False Imprisonment Claim Against CEC 9
In order to state a claim for false imprisonment under Pennsylvania law, a plaintiff must
allege (i) he or she was detained and that (ii) such detention was unlawful. Renk, 641 A.2d at
293. Defendants argue that Ms. LeBeau’s detention was not unlawful because CEC acted in
accordance with a valid bench warrant. Ms. LeBeau responds that her detention was unlawful
because the bench warrant only authorized her detention for 72 hours, and she was detained for 8
days. Even taking all of Ms. LeBeau’s allegations as true, Ms. LeBeau has failed to plead a
viable state law false imprisonment claim against CEC.
Ms. LeBeau also asserts a state law false imprisonment claim against Defendants
Cummings and Mattera. Because Ms. LeBeau has not alleged any actions or inactions by
Defendants Cummings or Mattera, Ms. LeBeau’s state law false imprisonment claim fails as to
In the context of an alleged overdetention, a prison will be liable for the tort of false
imprisonment if the prison unreasonably delayed a prisoner’s release. Regan, 2009 WL 650384,
at *12 (citing Burgess v. Roth, 387 F. Supp. 1155, 1161 (E.D. Pa. 1975)). In Burgess, the
plaintiff’s release from prison was delayed by 6 days as a result of the defendants’ policy to
hand-deliver release orders to correctional institutions. Burgess, 387 F. Supp. at 1158-60. In
granting the defendants’ summary judgment motion, the court found that the 6-day delay was not
unreasonable under the circumstances because the defendants “promptly set the release
machinery in motion” following the release decision. Id. at 1161. There was also no evidence
put forth of intentional or negligent conduct contributing to the delay. Id.
In Regan, an inmate’s release was delayed by 5 days as a result of an error in the inmate’s
release paperwork. Regan, 2009 WL 650384, at *10-*11. The defendants failed to resolve the
discrepancy in the window of time between when they learned of the error and when the district
court closed for the Christmas holiday. Id. at *12. This window of time was only several hours
long. Id. The eventual 5-day delay was a result of the defendants’ inability to contact the district
court over the remainder of the Christmas holiday. Id. The court found that there was no
unreasonable delay under the circumstances because the defendants acted as soon as the district
court re-opened after the holiday weekend. Id.
There are two key factors distinguishing this case from Regan and Burgess. First, and
working in Ms. LeBeau’s favor, is the fact that she has alleged that prison personnel intentionally
and/or negligently ignored her complaints regarding her illegal detention. Conversely, in both
Burgess and Regan, the defendants acted promptly to effectuate the plaintiffs’ release. Second,
and working in CEC’s favor, is that Burgess and Regan each involved a delay beyond a courtordered release date. Here, there is no allegation that a court ordered Ms. LeBeau’s release.
There is only an allegation that, at some unspecified time prior to Ms. LeBeau’s arrest, a bench
warrant was issued that allegedly authorized Ms. LeBeau’s detention for only 72 hours.
There is a “stated legal requirement that binds CEC to release prisoners only on official
written discharge orders.” Evans v. Community Education Centers, Inc., No. 13-1642, 2015 WL
5334237, at *3 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 11, 2015); see also id. at *2 (“[O]nly a court has authority to
release individuals from prison . . . .”). Ms. LeBeau has presented no case law or statutory
authority to support the proposition that CEC had the legal authority to release Ms. LeBeau after
she had been detained for 72 hours. Therefore, Ms. LeBeau has not sufficiently pleaded that her
detention was unlawful, which is fatal to her state law false imprisonment claim against CEC.
3. Negligence Claim Against CEC 10
To state a negligence claim under Pennsylvania law, a plaintiff must allege that (i) the
defendants owed the plaintiff a duty of care, (ii) the defendants breached that duty, (iii) the
breach was causally connected to the alleged injury, and (iv) the plaintiff suffered an actual loss.
Krentz v. Consolidated Rail Corp., 910 A.2d 20, 27 (Pa. 2006). The parties dispute whether
CEC owed Ms. LeBeau a duty under Pennsylvania law to investigate her complaints of illegal
There is little authority within the Third Circuit or under Pennsylvania law describing the
duty owed by prisons to investigate inmates’ complaints of illegal detention. See, e.g., Regan,
2009 WL 650384, at *10 (“We are aware of no authority in the Third Circuit or under
Pennsylvania law that establishes the contours of the duty of care that a Pennsylvania jailer must
exercise to effect a prisoner's release.”). CEC brought to the Court’s attention one unpublished
opinion of the Pennsylvania Superior Court, Haley v. GEO Group, Inc., No. 968 EDA 2010 (Pa.
Ms. LeBeau also asserts a state law negligence claim against Defendants Cummings and
Mattera. Because Ms. LeBeau has not alleged any actions or inactions by Defendants Cummings
or Mattera, Ms. LeBeau’s state law negligence claim fails as to those defendants.
Super. Ct. Dec. 8, 2010) (non-precedential), that suggests Pennsylvania law does not impose a
duty on prisons to investigate prisoner complaints of illegal detention when there is no existing
court order mandating the prisoner’s release. See Prison Defendants’ Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. A
(Doc. No. 12).
In Haley, the plaintiff was arrested in Pennsylvania on an outstanding out-of-state bench
warrant issued 9 years prior and detained at GWHCF. Id. at 2. Prior to his arrest, however, the
plaintiff had arranged with the out-of-state authorities to voluntarily appear at a court hearing.
Accordingly, plaintiff was not actually a fugitive at the time of his arrest. Because of a
breakdown in communication between the out-of-state authorities, the local authorities, and
GWHCF, the plaintiff was unnecessarily detained for nearly a month despite the plaintiff’s
repeated complaints to prison employees that his incarceration was improper. Id. at 2-4. The
superior court affirmed the lower court’s grant of summary judgment to the private entity then
operating GWHCF on the plaintiff’s claim that the prison was negligent. Id. at 10-11. The
superior court specifically rejected the argument that the prison “had an affirmative legal duty to
contact the . . . District Attorney . . . to determine whether [the plaintiff] was properly being
held.” Id. at 6. Rather, the court reasoned, when a prisoner is detained pursuant to a court order,
such as the bench warrant here, a prison has no affirmative duty to investigate the validity of the
underlying arrest and detention. Id. at 10.
Ms. LeBeau, while not specifically responding to CEC’s argument that it had no duty to
investigate the validity of the bench warrant, appears to rest her claim on the fact that CEC was
under a duty to release Ms. LeBeau after the expiration of the “72 hour bench warrant.” As
discussed above, Ms. LeBeau has not presented the Court with any case law or statutory
authority to support a finding that CEC was under a legal obligation to release Ms. LeBeau after
72 hours without further direction from the judicial system or under a legal duty to investigate
Ms. LeBeau’s complaints. Accordingly, Ms. LeBeau has not pleaded a plausible claim for
negligence against CEC.
4. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress Claim Against the Prison
Success on a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress under Pennsylvania law
requires a plaintiff to demonstrate that the defendant engaged in conduct that was “so outrageous
in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency . . . .”
Reedy v. Evanson, 615 F.3d 197, 231-32 (3d Cir. 2010) (quoting Field v. Phila. Elec. Co., 856
A.2d 1170, 1184 (Pa. 1989)). Because the Court has already determined that the factual
allegations contained in the complaint are insufficient to support the federal or state law causes
of action asserted against the Prison Defendants, the Court likewise concludes that Ms. LeBeau’s
allegations do not plausibly support a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress against
the Prison Defendants.
For the foregoing reasons, the Probation Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss is granted in part
and denied in part and the Prison Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss is granted.
An appropriate order consistent with this Memorandum follows.
BY THE COURT:
S/Gene E.K. Pratter
GENE E.K. PRATTER
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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