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Hahn v. United States Department of Commerce

United States District Court, Third Circuit

June 18, 2013

PHILIP E. HAHN, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, et al., Defendants.

OPINION

ESTHER SALAS, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Before the Court is a motion to dismiss Plaintiff Philip E. Hahn's ("Plaintiff" or "Hahn") Complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). (D.E. No. 89). The Court has considered the unopposed motion, and decides the matter without oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78(b). This Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 1343(a)(3), as well as 42 U.S.C. § 1983. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants Borough of Tenafly ("Tenafly") and Thomas B. Hanrahan's ("Hanhrahan") motion to dismiss is GRANTED.

II. Background[1]

This matter arises from Plaintiff's temporary psychiatric commitment to the Bergen Regional Medical Center and the litigation that ensued. Hahn v. U.S. Dep't of Commerce, No. 11-6369, 2012 WL 3961739, at *1 (D.N.J. Sept. 10, 2012) ("Prior Opinion").[2] The crux of Plaintiff's Complaint, while essentially devoid of factual allegations, is that Plaintiff was denied his legal right to a trial by jury in the state court proceedings.[3] (Compl., D.E. No. 1). This general allegation led to the present motion, wherein the attorney and law firm who filed and argued motions seeking dismissal of Plaintiff's state court complaint and the municipality that oversees the police department that engaged a mental health screening facility, seek dismissal of the federal action. (Defs. Tenafly & Hahnrahan's Br. in Support of Their Motion to Dismiss Pl.'s Compl. 1-4 ("Defs. Br."), D.E. No. 89-1).

This Court now decides Tenafly and Hanrahan's motion to dismiss.

III. Legal Standards

A. Motion to Dismiss Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) challenges the existence of a federal court's subject matter jurisdiction. "When subject matter jurisdiction is challenged under Rule 12(b)(1), the plaintiff must bear the burden of persuasion." Symczyk v. Genesis Health Care Corp., 656 F.3d 189, 191 n.4 (3d Cir. 2011). In considering a Rule 12(b)(1) motion, "the district court may not presume the truthfulness of plaintiff's allegations, but rather must evaluat[e] for itself the merits of [the] jurisdictional claims." Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005) (internal citation & quotation marks omitted).

B. Motion to Dismiss Under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires a complaint to set forth "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that a pleader is entitled to relief." The pleading standard announced by Rule 8 does not require detailed factual allegations; it does, however, demand "more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal citation omitted). In addition, the plaintiff's short and plain statement of the claim must "give the defendant[s] 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). For a complaint to survive dismissal, it "must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A claim has facial plausibility when "the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (internal citation omitted).

In evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint, a court must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations contained in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. See Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008). But, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions, " and "[a] pleading that offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Furthermore, "[when] deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court must consider only the complaint, exhibits attached [thereto], matters of the public record, as well as undisputedly authentic documents if the complainant's claims are based upon these documents." Mayer v. Belichick, 605 F.3d 223, 230 (3d Cir. 2011).

"[I]f a complaint is subject to a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal, a district court must permit a curative amendment unless such an amendment would be inequitable or futile." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 245; see also Ray v. First Nat'l Bank of Omaha, 413 F.Appx. 427, 430 (3d Cir. 2011) ("A district court should not dismiss a pro se complaint without allowing the plaintiff an opportunity to amend his complaint unless an amendment would be inequitable or futile."). Furthermore, in ruling on the present motion, the Court "must construe [Plaintiff's] complaint liberally as ...


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