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Bullock v. Luzerne County Children and Youth Services

January 17, 2006

CORNELIUS BULLOCK, PLAINTIFF
v.
LUZERNE COUNTY CHILDREN AND YOUTH SERVICES ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (Judge McClure)

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Background

Cornelius Bullock ("Plaintiff"), an inmate presently confined in the Luzerne County Correctional Facility, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, initiated this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.*fn1 The required filing fee has been paid in full. For the reasons set forth below, Bullock's complaint will be dismissed, without prejudice, as legally frivolous pursuant to the screening provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

Named as Defendants are Luzerne County Children and Youth Services ("CYS") and three of its employees, Supervisor Donna Vrhel and Caseworkers Jo-Ann Costanzo and Yuri Lynn Gilby-Safka. Plaintiff is also proceeding against two employees of the Wilkes-Barre Housing Authority, Manager Clementine and Assistant Manger Dorese; Bernadette Bayneck and Karl Kandetzki (who are apparently former neighbors); as well as two newspapers, the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader and the Citizens Voice.

It is initially noted that the complaint is set forth in a disjointed and at times illegible manner. Bullock states that in June, 2004, he was accused of fondling a minor female. A second minor female subsequently made a similar accusation against the Plaintiff. Bullock contends that neighbors including Defendant Bayneck advised the alleged minor victims to contact CYS.

On August 16, 2004, the Wilkes-Barre Police accompanied by Defendants Costanzo and Gilby-Safka allegedly entered Plaintiff's residence without his consent. It appears that Defendants Clementine and Dorese either participated or acquiesced in the resulting search of Bullock's residence. Plaintiff alleges that the accusations against him are false and that he has been subjected to unlawful imprisonment.*fn2 His complaint contends that the testimony of the victims was coerced and manipulated by a police detective and Defendant Gilby-Safka. See Record document no. 1, ¶ IV(3). He further indicates that his criminal prosecution is discriminatory as it was initiated because of his mixed marriage.

The complaint adds that as a result of his arrest, Plaintiff's children were placed in foster care by CYS and he was evicted from his residence, by the Wilkes-Barre Housing Authority. Bullock's remaining claim is that the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader and Citizens' Voice published defamatory articles regarding his alleged involvement in the sexual assaults. As relief, Bullock seeks monetary restitution, punitive damages, expungement of the child abuse allegations, and the release of his children from foster care.

Discussion

As previously noted, Plaintiff has paid the required filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A provides in pertinent part:

(a) Screening. -- The court shall review ... a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.

(b) Grounds for dismissal. -- On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint --

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or

(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

A district court may determine that process should not be issued if the complaint is malicious, presents an indisputably meritless legal theory, or is predicated on clearly baseless factual contentions. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989); Wilson v. Rackmill, 878 F.2d 772, 774 (3d Cir. 1989).*fn3 The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has added that "the plain meaning of 'frivolous' authorizes the dismissal of in forma pauperis claims that . . . are of little or no weight, value, or importance, not worthy of serious consideration, or trivial." Deutsch v. United States, 67 F.3d 1080, 1083 (3d Cir. 1995). "The frivolousness determination is a discretionary one," and ...


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