HUGHEY v. SEPTA - SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY et al
MEMORANDUM AND/OR OPINION. SIGNED BY HONORABLE GERALD J. PAPPERT ON 6/30/2017. 6/30/2017 ENTERED AND COPIES MAILED TO PRO SE.(kp, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
SEPTA-SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA :
TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY, et al.
JUNE 30 , 2017
Plaintiff Debbie Hughey brings this civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), Edward Robinson, and Regina
Stone. She alleges that she was injured on May 17, 2014, when the SEPTA bus in which she
was a passenger was involved in an accident. The complaint reflects that plaintiff brought a civil
action against the same defendants in state court, which appears to have been resolved in
arbitration. Plaintiff seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis. The Court will grant plaintiff
leave to proceed in forma pauperis and dismiss her complaint.
Plaintiff’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis is granted because it appears that she
cannot afford to pay the fees to commence this civil action. Accordingly, 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and (ii) require the Court to dismiss the complaint if it is frivolous or fails to
state a claim. A complaint is frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact,”
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989), and is legally baseless if it is “based on an
indisputably meritless legal theory.” Deutsch v. United States, 67 F.3d 1080, 1085 (3d Cir.
1995). To survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, the complaint must contain “sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quotations omitted). “[M]ere conclusory statements do not
suffice.” Id. Additionally, a district court may address affirmative defenses that are apparent
from the face of the complaint. Ball v. Famiglio, 726 F.3d 448, 459 (3d Cir. 2013), abrogated
on other grounds by, Coleman v. Tollefson, 135 S. Ct. 1759, 1763 (2015). As plaintiff is
proceeding pro se, the Court construes her allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att’y Gen., 655 F.3d
333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).
“To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by
the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was
committed by a person acting under color of state law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
“[T]he Due Process Clause is simply not implicated by a negligent act of an official causing
unintended loss of or injury to life, liberty, or property.” Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 328
(1986). Here, nothing in the complaint provides a basis for concluding that any of the defendants
violated plaintiff’s constitutional rights as a result of the motor vehicle accident. Furthermore,
Ms. Stone is not a state actor, so she is not subject to liability under § 1983.
In any event, plaintiff’s claims are time-barred. Plaintiff’s § 1983 claims, as well as any
state law claims she intended to bring, are governed by a two-year statute of limitations. See 42
Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5524; Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 387 (2007). The limitations period began
to run from the time “the plaintiff knew or should have known of the injury upon which [her]
action is based.” Sameric Corp. of Del., Inc. v. City of Phila., 142 F.3d 582, 599 (3d Cir. 1998).
Here, the accident that caused plaintiff’s injuries occurred in May of 2014, but she did not file
this lawsuit until June 27, 2017. Accordingly, plaintiff’s claims are time-barred. Additionally, a
final judgment entered in her case in state court against the same parties based on the same
accident would have a preclusive effect on this case. See generally Marmon Coal Co. v. Dir.,
Office Workers’ Compensation Programs, 726 F.3d 387, 394 (3d Cir. 2013).
For the foregoing reasons, the Court will dismiss plaintiff’s complaint. Plaintiff will not
be given leave to amend because amendment would be futile. An appropriate order follows,
which shall be docketed separately.
/s/Gerald J. Pappert
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