DAVENPORT v. POTTSTOWN HOSPITAL COMPANY LLC et al
MEMORANDUM AND/OR OPINION. SIGNED BY HONORABLE MARK A. KEARNEY ON 7/18/17. 7/18/17 ENTERED AND COPIES MAILED TO PRO SE AND E-MAILED.(mbh, ).
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
RAYMOND SAMUEL DAVENPORT,
POTTSTOWN HOSPITAL COMPANY
LLC, et al.
July 18, 2017
The police involuntarily committed a confused and disoriented citizen to a hospital which
did not honor his request for kosher meals on Shabbat during Passover. The citizen now pro se
sues the hospital for violating his First and Second Amendments by depriving him of his free
exercise of religion and right to bear arms and for negligence and intentional infliction of
emotional distress. The citizen also alleges the hospital is liable for its employees' violations of
his First, Second, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments under Monell.
The hospital moves to dismiss his First and Second Amendment, supervisory liability and
state law claims against it. The hospital is not the party under § 1983 allegedly violating the
citizen's First and Second Amendment claims. The citizen's pro se complaint does not come
close to pleading the hospital is a state actor with supervisory civil rights liability. Absent a
timely certificate of merit, there is no basis for corporate or medical negligence claims. In the
accompanying Order, we grant the Hospital's motion as to the citizen's First and Second
Amendment, supervisory liability and negligence claims with leave to amend if possible but
deny the Hospital's motion as to the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim.
Raymond Davenport alleges he began expenencmg "disorientation of thoughts and
confusion" on April 3, 2015. He continued to work and practice his Jewish religion. 1 Over the
next six days, Mr. Davenport became "increasingly sensitive to humanitarian issues in the world
and maintained a positive and peaceful demeanor." 2
On April 9, 2015, Mr. Davenport's
physician deemed him "not a harm to himself or others. " 3
The next morning, Mr. Davenport drove his car to the grocery store to purchase food for
Shabbat. 4 While grocery shopping, Mr. Davenport became "increasingly confused and did not
properly use the self-checkout machine in the store." 5 Mr. Davenport then left the grocery store
but could not locate his vehicle in the parking lot. 6 A store employee approached Mr. Davenport
in the parking lot and asked him to return to the grocery store. 7
The grocery store called North Coventry Township Police regarding possible theft
because of Mr. Davenport's "incorrect checkout procedure and subsequent walk out to the
parking lot." 8 Mr. Davenport attempted to pay for the groceries "to make it right." 9 The police
officers found Mr. Davenport to be severely confused but he did not intend to commit theft based
on his confusion and subsequent cooperation. 10 The grocery store declined to pursue theft
charges against Mr. Davenport due to his confusion. 11
For an unknown reason, at approximately 12:30 P.M., the Police placed Mr. Davenport
into custody. 12 They handcuffed Mr. Davenport and then searched him. 13 The officers then
drove him to the police station and kept him handcuffed in the holding area. 14 The Police
requested Ebony Willis from Valley Creek Crisis evaluate Mr. Davenport's mental state.
evaluated him while he remained handcuffed in the Police's holding area. 16
After Ms. Willis evaluated him, the Police told Mr. Davenport to sign a "201 for
voluntary treatment or be faced with criminal charges and incarceration." 17 They also told Mr.
Davenport "life would be more difficult" if he refused to sign the "201." 18 Mr. Davenport signed
the "201." 19
Officer Hipple then drove Mr. Davenport to Pottstown Memorial Hospital for drug and
alcohol screening and medical clearance. 20 Officer Hipple gave Mr. Davenport's signed 201
paperwork to a Hospital crisis worker named Lauren. 21 Mr. Davenport does not know what
other instructions or information Officer Hipple provided Lauren and the Hospital. 22 Lauren
communicated with the Police and Ms. Willis during Mr. Davenport's time at the Hospital. 23
Mr. Davenport then "signed himself in to [the Hospital] with disoriented thoughts,
confusion, and reduced physical awareness under threats of incarceration and criminal
prosecution if he did not sign himself in at" the Hospital. 24 When the Hospital admitted Mr.
Davenport, it assessed him as "confused and disoriented, but not a harm to himself or others." 25
During his evaluation, Mr. Davenport explained he kept kosher for Passover and required
kosher food. 26 The Hospital noted his mention of religious dietary restrictions but interpreted
Mr. Davenport to be on a "fasting strike" and described his mention of Passover as "rambl[ing] a
little bit about Passover."27 Mr. Davenport alleges Hospital employee Mr. Coyne is responsible
for the medical records describing Mr. Davenport's supposed fasting strike. 28
When admitting Mr. Davenport, the Hospital erroneously combined his medical records
with another patient's medical records and included the other patient's history of self-mutilation,
suicide attempts, and suicidal statements. 29 The Hospital staff placed Mr. Davenport in a room
without furniture and left him without supervision for over an hour in the emergency room
area. 30 During this hour or so, Mr. Davenport grew even more confused and disoriented and his
condition deteriorated from the sight and sounds of others' trauma. 31 Sometime later, while still
admitted at the Hospital, Mr. Davenport "fell to the floor and became unresponsive and
unconscious for an extended period of time." 32 The Hospital staff attempted to revive Mr.
Davenport by "scraping the sternum and trapezius muscle pinching which caused intense pain"
and long-scarring to his sternum. 33 His fall caused his "condition immediately and significantly
worsened" changing his mental state and behavior. 34 Because of his fall, Mr. Davenport also
needed extended treatment at other facilities and suffered "extreme long-term pain and
suffering. " 35
At some point during Mr. Davenport's day, Hospital employee Jose Ortiz contacted the
North Coventry Police because Ms. Willis, the crisis center worker, signed the paperwork in the
incorrect place. 36
Mr. Ortiz spoke with Police officer Jesse Smith who is a K-9 Drug
Specialist. 37 Officer Smith told Mr. Ortiz if Mr. Davenport refused to sign another 201 then
Officer Smith "would incarcerate [Mr. Davenport] and complete a criminal complaint." 38 "The
police report states [the Hospital] attempted to get new 201 forms signed" from Mr. Davenport
for the Police. 39
Officer Smith arrived at the Hospital at approximately 11 P .M. on April 10th to evaluate
Mr. Davenport and "determine if behavior of [Mr. Davenport] had changed from earlier in the
day" and work with Mr. Ortiz to force Mr. Davenport to sign a new 201. 40 Mr. Davenport alleges
the Hospital pressured him to sign the paperwork on Shabbat in disregard, intolerance and
deprivation of his First Amendment freedom of religion rights. 41 Upon arrival at the Hospital,
Officer Smith described himself as "frustrated" stating Mr. Davenport "is on drugs" and "should
be locked up." 42 Officer Smith also stated Mr. Davenport '"was full of drugs' or 'definitely on
drugs. "'43 Mr. Davenport had no drugs or alcohol in his system according to the Hospital's lab
blood tests. 44
Officer Smith then went to Mr. Davenport's hospital room while Mr. Davenport was in a
period of "forced and short moment of consciousness." 45
Mr. Davenport was in pain and
disoriented and asked someone to close the door to his room to reduce the stressful
environment. 46 No one would shut the door so Mr. Davenport got out of bed and attempted to
shut the door. 47 When he began walking, Officer Smith grabbed Mr. Davenport "by the arm then
proceeded to do a "left arm bar" driving [him] into the wall and handcuffed [him] behind his
back."48 Officer Smith also grabbed Mr. Davenport by the throat area when pinning him against
the wall and asked "2 questions regarding harm to self or others" and Mr. Davenport responded
no to both questions. 49 Officer Smith then rephrased his first question to ask if Mr. Davenport
was suicidal "at which point Office[r] Smith claims [Mr. Davenport] responded 'yes.' " 50 Mr.
Davenport's "alleged 'yes' is in response to the significant trauma, stress, assault, and battery
experienced over the past few hours." 51 Officer Smith then called hospital security and together
they applied additional restraints to Mr. Davenport to secure him in the hospital bed. 52
Officer Smith used Mr. Davenport's "yes" to the suicide question to complete a 302
involuntary commitment form. 53
The 302 involuntary commitment form overrode Mr.
Davenport's 201 voluntary commitment paperwork. Mr. Ortiz stated he would do the contact
work for Mr. Davenport's 302 involuntary commitment and "further processing to have the 302
petition by Officer Smith approved."
Feeling under "significant scrutiny" and not wanting to support the fasting strike claim,
Mr. Davenport ate the oatmeal, not Kosher for Passover, the Hospital served to him on April
Mr. Davenport pro se sued the Hospital, among other yet-unserved defendants, alleging §
1983 civil rights liability for violating his First Amendment rights, Second Amendment rights,
and Monell municipal liability based on failure to train/supervise. Mr. Davenport alleges state
law claims of negligent medical treatment and care, corporate negligence, and intentional
infliction of emotional distress. While he pleads separate claims against the Police, the only
plead civil rights claims against the Hospital arise under the First Amendment because of failing
to serve him Kosher on Shabbat during Passover, under the Second Amendment for completely
undisclosed reasons and under Monell for a failure to train/supervise its employees.
Hospital moves to dismiss. 55 While pro se pleadings, "must be held to less stringent standards
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers," they must "still allege sufficient facts in their
complaints to support a claim. " 56
Mr. Davenport's § 1983 claims against the Hospital.
Mr. Davenport claims the Hospital deprived him of his civil rights under the First
Amendment by failing to serve Kosher on Shabbat during Passover despite his request and also
an undefined claim under the Second Amendment. He fails to plead the Hospital is the actor
causing harm under § 1983 for these two constitutional claims. The Hospital is not the entity
engaging in this conduct.
Instead, Mr. Davenport identifies Hospital employees.
Hospital did not cause harm, it cannot be liable under § 1983 unless, as addressed below, Mr.
Davenport can show the Hospital is a state actor with supervisory failings.
To successfully plead a "basic cause of action" in a § 1983 claim, Mr. Davenport must
allege facts showing "(1) ... the conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under
color of state law; and (2) . . . the conduct deprived the plaintiff of rights, privileges, or
immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States." 57
Only the actor who "played an 'affirmative part' in the alleged misconduct, either
through personal direction of or actual knowledge and acquiescence in the deprivation" commits
the violation under§ 1983. 58 We cannot find liability against an entity, deemed acting under the
color of state law, "premised on a theory ofrespondeat superior." 59
Mr. Davenport cannot state a § 1983 violation of his First and Second Amendment rights
because the Hospital is not the actor who violated Mr. Davenport's rights; if anyone, its
employees are the alleged actors. Mr. Davenport can only assert those claims directly against the
Hospital employees who allegedly violated his First and Second Amendment rights while acting
under color of state law.
B. Mr. Davenport does not state a Monell claim.
Alternatively, Mr. Davenport claims the Hospital is liable for failure to train, failure to
supervise, establish a system to identify or report improper conduct, and adequately sanction and
discipline its employees. He alleges the Hospital deprived him of his constitutional rights under
the First, Second, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments. He also attributes actions of the Police
Officers Hipple and Smith to the Hospital.
Even if not the actor directly causing a constitutional claim, a municipality may be liable
under § 1983 when its policy or custom causes the constitutional violation. 60 Section 1983 and
Monell claims may be brought against private entities when they are acting under color of state
We apply a two-part test to determine whether a private actor can be subject to
constitutional constraints: first, we ask "whether the claimed constitutional deprivation resulted
from the exercise of a right or privilege having its source in state authority." 62 Second, we
inquire "whether the private party charged with the deprivation could be described in all fairness
as a state actor." 63
Our court of appeals cautions no "'simple line' between state and private actors" exists. 64
"[T]he principal question at stake is whether there is such a close nexus between the State and
the challenged action that seemingly private behavior may be fairly treated as that of the State
itself."65 We use "three broad tests" to determine whether state action exists: (1) whether the
private entity exercised powers traditionally within the "exclusive" prerogative of the state; (2)
whether the private party acted with the help of or in concert with state officials; and (3) whether
the state sufficiently insinuated itself into a position of interdependence with the acting party
rendering it a joint participant in the alleged misconduct, also known as the symbiotic
relationship test. 66 Our "inquiry is fact-specific. "' 67 We "remain focused on the heart of the
state action inquiry" ... "to discern if the defendant exercised power possessed by virtue of state
law and made possible only because the wrongdoer is clothed with the authority of state law." 68
"Unlike the symbiotic relationship test, which looks at the overall relationship among the
parties, the close nexus approach attempts to determine whether the state can be deemed
responsible for the specific conduct of which the plaintiff complains." 69 The existence of a
"close nexus" depends on whether the state "exercised coercive power or has provided such
significant encouragement, either overt or covert" to the private actor to allow the private actor's
choice to be "deemed ... that of the State." 70 "Action taken by private entities with the mere
approval or acquiescence of the State is not state action." 71
A district court in the Middle District found a hospital did not act under the color of state
law when it admitted an involuntarily committed patient brought in under police authority. 72 In
Janicsko v. Pellman, police transported Mrs. Janicsko to the
hospital where a physician
examined her and concluded she should be involuntarily committed under § 302 of the
emergency procedures of Pennsylvania's Mental Health Procedures Act (the "Act"). 73 Section
303 of the Act required a hearing be held to extend her commitment, which the hospital did and
determined she should be released and discharged her.
Mrs. Janicsko alleged the hospital and
its employees violated her Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights under§ 1983. 75 Mrs.
Janicsko alleged § 302(b) of the Mental Health Procedures Act established the necessary nexus
between the actions of the doctors and the Holy Spirit Hospital and the state. 76 The hospital
moved for summary judgment arguing it did not act under color of state law.
The district court examined Blum v. Yaretsky to determine whether the hospital's activity
can be attributed to the state under the close nexus test or the public function test. 77 The court
then "follow[ed] the lead of [the] Supreme Court in Blum and Rendell-Baker," to "examine the
language of the relevant sections to determine if it replaces private physician or facility
discretion with state mandated standards and to determine whether the state compels or
encourages a facility's or physician's actions with regard to involuntary commitment." 78
The court compared the Pennsylvania statute to an Illinois statute in a factually similar
court of appeals case, Spencer v. Lee. 79 In Spencer, the court of appeals held a private hospital's
involuntary commitment of individuals is "not the type of action which was exclusively in the
province of the state. ,,so The co mi then reviewed the Illinois statute and found it did not compel
or encourage hospitals to private commit individuals because it only stated a hospital may admit
individuals. The court found the hospital was not a state actor and dismissed the § 1983
claims.s 1 The court did note the plaintiffs allegation the local police were involved with one of
his commitments gave them "some pause," but plaintiff did not name police as defendants and
did plaintiff not allege the hospital "conspired" with the police to commit him. 82
In .Janicscko, the court agreed with the court of appeals in Spencer holding the
involuntary commitment of individuals is not a traditional public function.
The court then
compared the Pennsylvania statute to the Illinois statute and found the Pennsylvania statute had a
higher degree of coercion and less discretion for hospitals to admit individuals because it states a
hospital shall examine the individual and, in some cases, shall begin treatment immediately. 83
Despite this language, the court "[could not] hold that the standards set by the [Act] rise to the
level of coercion." 84 The court could not say "the involuntary commitment of the mentally ill by
private physicians and hospitals is, under the [Act], a function compelled by or sufficiently
connected to state directives to attribute those actions to the state." 85 Our court of appeals
affirmed the district court without an opinion and in Benn v. Universal Health Systems, Inc. cited
to .Janicsko approvingly in holding the Act's standards do not "rise to the level of coercion" for
hospitals to be state actors. 86
Mr. Davenport alleges the Hospital failed to train/supervise its employees causing
violations of his First, Second, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
alleges the Police brought him to the Hospital under his coerced voluntary commitment which
later became an involuntary commitment, as in .Janiscko, where the police forcibly removed the
Mrs. Janicsko from her car and brought her to the hospital for involuntary commitment. 87 Also
as in .Janiscko, Mr. Davenport also alleges the Hospital confined him and treated him under the
Act. Mr. Davenport does not allege the Hospital acted under color of state law when it allegedly
failed to train/supervise its employees because the Act does not coerce the Hospital to train or
supervise its employees.
Mr. Davenport fails to state a Monell claim against the Hospital
because we have no facts showing the Hospital is a state actor.
Even if he could show the Hospital is a state actor, his Monell claim still fails. To plead a
Monell claim, Mr. Davenport must allege he: "(l) possessed a constitutional right of which he
was deprived; (2) the municipality had a policy [or custom]; (3) the policy [or custom]
'amounted to deliberate indifference' to his constitutional right; and (4) the policy [or custom]
was the 'moving force' behind the constitutional violation." 88
Liability for failure to train subordinate officers lies only where a constitutional violation
results from "deliberate indifference to the constitutional rights of [the municipality's]
inhabitants. " 89 "A single incident of unconstitutional activity is not sufficient to impose liability
under Monell, unless proof of the incident includes proof that it was caused by an existing,
unconstitutional municipal policy, which policy can be attributed to a municipal policymaker."90
Mr. Davenport alleges a failure to train and supervise because the Hospital's failure to
adequately hire, train, supervise or otherwise direct its employees about the rights of citizens, its
failure to establish a system to investigate, identify or report employee misconduct, and its
failure to sanction or discipline its employees or Officer Smith caused actions leading to Mr.
Davenport's injuries and damages. To succeed on a failure to train claim, Mr. Davenport must
plead the Hospital, the policymaker, made a "deliberate" or "conscious" decision to not train or
supervise. 91 "A pattern of similar constitutional violations by untrained employees is 'ordinarily
necessary' to demonstrate deliberate indifference for ... failure to train." 92
Alternatively, Mr. Davenport may prove deliberate indifference by showing: "(1) municipal
policymakers know that employees will confront a particular situation; (2) the situation involves a
difficult choice or a history of employees mishandling; and (3) the wrong choice by an employee will
frequently cause deprivation of constitutional rights." 93
Mr. Davenport failed to plead facts demonstrating the Hospital supervisors had
contemporaneous knowledge of constitutional violations or facts to indicate a pattern of similar
violations. He does not satisfy the pleading standard because he does not plead the Hospital's
"policy [or custom] 'amounted to deliberate indifference"' by demonstrating a pattern of
violations beyond the violation of his constitutional rights. 94 He also fails to plead Hospital
employees acted under a policy which "was the 'moving force' behind the constitutional
violations." 95 We grant the Hospital's motion to dismiss Mr. Davenport's Monell claim.
Mr. Davenport's medical negligence claim and corporate negligence claims
fail because he did not timely file a certificate of merit.
Mr. Davenport alleges failure to manage his confusion and disorientation, failure to
sufficiently supervise or monitor him, failure to maintain proper medical records, and other
allegations for negligence against the Hospital employees Dr. Franz, Nurse Andrews and other
staff providing care to him. He alleges the Hospital failed to retain and select competent nursing
staff, use reasonable care in maintaining facilities and equipment used for patient care, failed to
formulate, adopt, and enforce adequate rules and policies for nursing and medical care to ensure
fall prevention care, and other allegations for corporate negligence. Mr. Davenport's claims
require a certificate of merit under Pennsylvania law. 96
Mr. Davenport sued on April 10, 2017. The law requires he file a certificate of merit
within sixty (60) days of filing his complaint. A certificate of merit is required in cases "based
upon an allegation that a licensed professional deviated from an acceptable professional
standard." 97 The Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopted the certificate of merit requirement in
2003 as "an orderly procedure that would serve to identify and weed non-meritorious
malpractice claims from the judicial system efficiently and promptly." 98
Mr. Davenport's claims relate to medical negligence and require a certificate of merit. 99
Mr. Davenport did not file a certificate of merit within 60 days of his first complaint. 100 Mr.
Davenport's amended complaint does not restart the 60 day time period. 101
Mr. Davenport failed to timely file the required certificate of merit and failed to provide
reasons why he failed to comply with the certificate of merit requirement.
considerations may excuse noncompliance. 102
In Womer, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court
directed courts to give a noncompliant party the opportunity to present a reasonable explanation
or legitimate excuse for his noncompliance. 103
Mr. Davenport presents no reasonable
explanation or legitimate excuse for his noncompliance with the requirement sufficient for us to
find equitable considerations excuse his noncompliance. Mr. Davenport may seek reinstatement
of his medical and corporate negligence claims by presenting further evidence sufficient to
establish a reasonable explanation or legitimate excuse for his noncompliance with the certificate
of merit requirement. We caution Womer "dictates a very strict interpretation of the [certificate
of merit] Rule and sets a high bar for establishing a reasonable excuse" for failing to timely
comply with the [certificate of merit] requirement. 104
D. Mr. Davenport states a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
To plead an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim under Pennsylvania law, Mr.
Davenport must allege the Hospital's conduct (1) was intentional or reckless; (2) was extreme
and outrageous; (3) actually caused the distress; and (4) caused distress that was severe. 105 "In
Pennsylvania, '[l]iability on an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim has been found
only where the conduct has been so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go
beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in
a civilized community. "' 106
Under Pennsylvania law, we determine whether the Hospital's conduct can be reasonably
regarded as so extreme and outrageous to permit recovery. 107
To maintain his claim for
intentional infliction of emotional distress, Mr. Davenport must allege that he suffered "severe"
emotional distress resulting from the Hospital's conduct. 108
"Fright, horror, grief, shame,
humiliation, embarrassment, anger, chagrin, disappointment, worry and nausea" all indicate
"severe" emotional distress. 109
His allegations of physical injury must accompany alleged
emotional distress. 110 In Lane, the party alleged she "continue[d] to suffer 'fear, anxiety, stress,
anger, headaches, nightmares, humiliation, embarrassment, emotional distress [and] mental
anguish"' which the court found sufficient to raise an inference of severe emotional distress. " 111
Accepting all of Mr. Davenport's fact allegations as true and construing his amended
complaint in the light most favorable to him, he states an intentional infliction of emotional
distress claim. Mr. Davenport describes conduct as "extreme, and outrageous" and "designed to
cause physical harm, grief, shame, humiliation, embarrassment, anger." He alleges the
"intentional inflictions" caused him "further disorientation and confusion."
He claims he
required therapy from a psychologist to process and heal from the damages inflicted upon him
and suffered "physical injury and pain."
Mr. Davenport sufficiently pleads physical harm or
injury for necessary infliction of emotional distress. We deny the Hospital's motion to dismiss
We grant in part and deny in part the Hospital's motion to dismiss Mr. Davenport's
amended complaint against it, and grant Mr. Davenport leave to amend his Complaint only if he
can do so in good faith. 112 We grant the Hospital's motion to dismiss Mr. Davenport's First and
Second Amendment claims because Mr. Davenport fails to plead facts showing the Hospital
engaged in the alleged conduct necessary for direct liability under §1983.
We dismiss Mr.
Davenport's Monell claim because he did not plead facts demonstrating the Hospital acted under
color of state law, and even if he had, he did not plead supervisors had contemporaneous knowledge
of constitutional violations or facts to indicate a pattern of similar violations.
We dismiss Mr.
Davenport's medical and corporate negligence claims because he failed to timely file a required
certificate of merit. Given his pro se status, we provide Mr. Davenport with leave to amend if he can
do so in good faith. We do not dismiss Mr. Davenport's claim for intentional infliction of
emotional distress against the Hospital.
Amended Complaint, ECF Doc. No. 13, ~ 13.
Id. ~ 14.
Id. ~ 15.
Id. ~ 16.
Id. ~ 18.
Id. ~ 19. It is unclear if the North Coventry Township Police are Officer Hipple and Detective
Prouty and if they took him into custody from the grocery store.
Id. ~ 20.
Id. ~ 22.
Id. ~ 23.
Id. ~ 26.
Id. ~ 25.
Id. ~ 58.
Id. ~ 61.
Id. ~ 27.
Id. ~ 29.
Id. ~ 31.
Id. ~ 36, 44.
Id. if 37.
Id. ifif 63-64, 67.
Id. if 38-39.
Id. if 42.
Id. if 45.
Id. if 40.
Id. if 41.
Id. if 42.
Id. if 40.
Id. if 42.
Id. if 59-60.
"In reviewing a dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), we accept all factual
allegations as true, construing the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Warren
Gen. Hosp. v. Amgen Inc., 643 F.3d 77, 84 (3d Cir. 2011). We grant a motion to dismiss "only
if, accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and viewing them in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff, a court finds that plaintiffs claims lack facial plausibility." Id.
See id. at 146 (quoting Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) and Mala v. Crown Bay
Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013)). Our court of appeals instructs: "Our policy of
liberally construing pro se submissions is driven by the understanding that [i]mplicit in the right
of self-representation is an obligation on the part of the court to make reasonable allowances to
protect pro se litigants from inadvertent forfeiture of important rights because of their lack of
legal training." Higgs v. Atty. Gen. of the US., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir.2011) (quoting
Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 475 (2d Cir.2006)) (internal quotation marks
Our court of appeals consistently demands a civil rights complaint contain "a modicum of factual
specificity, identifying the particular conduct of defendants that is alleged to have harmed the
plaintiffs" but does not consider this requirement inconsistent with Haines. Ross v. Meagan, 638
F.2d 646, 650 (3d Cir. 1981). "Our case law requires dismissal of complaints which 'contain
only vague and conclusory allegations."' Id (citing Rotolo v. Borough of Charleroi, 532 F .2d
920, 922-23 (3d Cir. 1976); Kauffman v. Moss, 420 F.2d 1270, 1275-76 & n.15 (3d Cir.), cert.
denied, 400 U.S. 846 (1970); Negrich v. Hohn, 379 F.2d 213 (3d Cir. 1967)).
Schneyder v. Smith, 653 F .3d 313, 319 (3d Cir. 2011 ).
Gannaway v. Prime Care Medical, Inc., 150 F. Supp. 3d 511, 526 (3d Cir. 2015) (internal
Id. (citing Rode v. Dellarciprete, 845 F.2d 1195, 1207 (3d Cir. 1998)).
Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of City of NY., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978); see also City of
Canton, Ohio v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 385 (1989).
Becker v. City U of Seattle, 723 F. Supp. 2d 807, 810 (E.D. Pa. 2010) See also Leshko, 423
F.3d at 339 ("[T]o state a claim of liability under§ 1983, [a plaintiff] must allege that she was
deprived of a federal constitutional or statutory right by a state actor.")
Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Co., 500 U.S. 614, 620 (1991).
Kach v. Hose, 589 F.3d 626, 646 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Brentwood Acad. v. Tenn. Secondary
Sch. Athletic Ass'n, 531 U.S. 288, 295 (2001)).
Leshko v. Servis, 423 F.3d 337, 339 (3d Cir.2005).
Kach, 589 F.3d at 646 (quoting Leshko, 423 F.3d at 339).
Groman v. Twp. of Manalapan, 47 F .3d 628, 63 8 (3d Cir.1995); see also Crissman v. Dover
Downs Entm't Inc., 289 F.3d 231, 234 (3d Cir.2002) (en bane) (noting that "the facts are
Id. (citing West, 487 U.S. at 49, 108 S.Ct. 2250) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Community Med. Ctr. v. Emerg. Med. Services of NE. Pennsylvania, Inc., 712 F.2d 878, 881
(3d Cir. 1983) (citing Blum v. Yaretsky, 457 U.S. 991, 1004 (1982)).
Am. Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 52 (1999).
Janicsko v. Pellman, 774 F. Supp. 331, 335 (M.D. Pa. 1991), aff'd, 970 F.2d 899 (3d Cir.
50 Pa. Stat. § 7302(b)
Janicsko, 774 F. Supp. at 335.
Id. at 336. (citing Blum v. Yaretsky, 457 U.S. 991, 1004 (1982)).
Id. at 335.
Id. at 337 (citing Spencer v. Lee, 864 F.2d 1376 (7th Cir.1989), cert. denied, 494 U.S. 1016
Id. (citing Spencer, 864 F.2d at 1381).
Spencer, 864 F.2d at 1381.
Id. at 1381-82.
Janicsko, 774 F. Supp. at 338.
Id. at 339.
Benn v. Universal Health Sys., Inc., 371 F.3d 165, 171 (3d Cir. 2004) (citing Janicsko, 774 F.
Supp. at 338-339).
See Janicsko, 774 F. Supp. at 335.
Vargas v. City of Philadelphia, 783 F.3d 962, 974 (3d Cir. 2015) (quoting City of Canton, 489
U.S. at 389-91)).
City of Canton, 489 U.S. at 392.
Oklahoma City v. Tuttle, 471 U.S. 808, 823-24 (1985).
See City of Canton, 489 U.S. at 389.
Simpson v. Ferry, 202 F. Supp. 3d 444, 455 (E.D. Pa. 2016) (quoting Connick v. Thompson,
563 U.S. 51, 61 (2011) and Bd. ofCnty. Commrs of Bryan Cnty., Oki. v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397,
Simpson, 202 F. Supp. 3d at 455 (citing Ancherani v. City of Scranton, No. 13-2595, 2015 WL
5924366 at *4 (M.D. Pa. Oct. 9, 2015) and Carter v. City of Philadelphia, 181F.3d339, 357 (3d
Vargas, 783 F.3d at 974 (quoting City of Canton, 489 U.S. at 389-91)).
Pa. R. Civ. P. 1042.3(a) provides a plaintiff must file a COM signed by the attorney or party
certifying that: "(1) an appropriate licensed professional has supplied a written statement that
there exists a reasonable probability that the care, skill or knowledge exercised or exhibited in
the treatment, practice or work that is the subject of the complaint, fell outside the acceptable
professional standards and that such conduct was a cause in bringing about the harm; (2) the
claim that the defendant deviated from an acceptable professional standard is based solely on
allegations that other licensed professionals for whom this defendant is responsible deviated
from an acceptable professional standard; or (3) expert testimony of an appropriate licensed
professional is unnecessary for the prosecution of the claim."
Stroud v. Abington Meml. Hosp., 546 F. Supp. 2d 238, 247 (E.D. Pa. 2008) (quoting Womer v.
Hilliker, 908 A.2d 269, 279 (Pa. 2006)).
See Koukos v. Chester Cty., No. 16-4602, 2017 WL 549150 at *3 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 7, 2017) (The
certificate of merit requirement "applies to prose and represented plaintiffs alike and constitutes
a rule of substantive state law with which plaintiffs in federal court must comply.").
See Pa. R. Civ. P. 1042.3(a).
See Stroud, 546 F. Supp. 2d at 249.
Womer, 908 A.2d at 279.
Stroud, 546 F.Supp.2d at 253 (quoting Walsh v. Consolidated Design & Eng'g, Inc., No. 05-
2001, 2007 WL 2844829 at *8 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 28, 2007)).
Regan v. Township of Lower Merion, 36 F. Supp. 2d 245, 251 (E.D. Pa. 1999).
Kasper v. Cnty. of Bucks, 514 Fed. App'x. 210, 217 (3d Cir. 2013) (internal citations and
Cox. v. Keystone Carbon Co., 861 F.2d 390, 395 (3d Cir. 1988).
Lane v. Cole, 88 F. Supp. 2d 402, 407 (E.D. Pa. 2000).
Id. (quoting Kazatsky v. King David Memorial Park, Inc., 527 A.2d 988, 991 (Pa. 1987)
(quoting Restatement (Second) of Torts§ 46 cmt. d)).
Id.; See also Corbett v. Morgenstern, 934 F. Supp. 680, 684-85 (E.D. Pa. 1996) (symptoms of
severe depression, nightmares, anxiety and ongoing mental or physical harm suffice).
Shane v. Fauver, 213 F.3d 113, 117 (3d Cir. 2000) ("dismissal without leave to amend is
justified only on the grounds of bad faith, undue delay, prejudice, or futility.").
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