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Municipal claim can survive under § 1983 even though a plaintiff fails to sufficiently allege an underlying constitutional violation.

April 1, 2019
Estate of Adriano Roman v. City of Newark, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 3154, __ F.3d __, 2019 WL 348658 (3d Cir. 2019)

The District Court dismissed all of the plaintiff’s 42 U.S.C. §1983 claims against the individual defendants and the City of Newark, finding that he had not adequately pled Fourth Amendment violations or a custom of warrantless searches and false arrests. The Third Circuit reversed, finding that, while the plaintiff failed to sufficiently allege a cause of action against the individual defendants, he had alleged sufficient facts to maintain a Monell cause of action against the City of Newark for a custom or practice and for a failure to train and supervise theory of liability. The majority considered documents attached to and referenced in the amended complaint when determining the sufficiency of the municipal claim. The dissent argued that the majority improperly considered documents not attached to the amended complaint to interject additional facts to support the survival of the claim.

This opinion has two practical effects going forward. A municipal claim can survive under § 1983 even though a plaintiff fails to sufficiently allege an underlying constitutional violation. Additionally, the courts may consider documents attached to a motion to dismiss, but not attached to the complaint, to determine whether sufficient facts exist to survive a motion to dismiss.

 

Case Law Alerts, 2nd Quarter, April 2019

Case Law Alerts is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. Copyright © 2019 Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, all rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted without the express written permission of our firm.

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