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Lin v. Correctional Officer Mitchell

February 27, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Jones III United States District Judge



The plaintiff, Long Qun Lin ("Plaintiff" or "Lin"), an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Rockview ("SCI-Rockview"), in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, proceeding prose, commenced this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("§ 1983") action by filing a complaint in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania on February 10, 2005. (See Rec. Doc. 1). The case was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Malachy E. Mannion for preliminary review.

On February 10, 2005, Plaintiff filed an application to proceedinforma pauperis and an authorization form; however, the application was not acted upon because on March 4, 2005, in response to an administrative order directing Plaintiff to pay the filing fee or face dismissal of the complaint, he paid the $250 filing fee. (Rec. Docs. 5, 6). In addition, Magistrate Judge Mannion denied Plaintiff's initial Motion to Appoint Counsel, as well as two additional motions requesting counsel. (Rec. Docs. 3, 8, 9-12). On June 15, 2005, Plaintiff submitted an amended complaint, which Magistrate Judge Mannion had permitted as per a May 27, 2005 order, and which mooted Defendants' previously filed Motion to Dismiss.

On June 23, 2005, Defendant Franklin J. Tennis ("Defendant Tennis") filed a Motion to Dismiss, which has been briefed by the parties. The Motion is therefore ripe for disposition.

On February 8, 2006, Magistrate Judge Mannion issued a report recommending that Defendant Tennis's Motion to Dismiss be granted. (See Rep. & Rec. at 9). Objections to the report were filed on February 23, 2006. (Rec. Doc. 28).


We initially note that in considering a motion to dismiss, a court must accept the veracity of a plaintiff's allegations. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974); see also White v. Napoleon, 897 F.2d 103, 106 (3d Cir. 1990). In Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1996), our Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit added that in considering a motion to dismiss based on a failure to state a claim argument, a court should "not inquire whether the plaintiffs will ultimately prevail, only whether they are entitled to offer evidence to support their claims." Furthermore, "a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957); see also District Council 47 v. Bradley, 795 F.2d3 310 (3d Cir. 1986).

When objections are filed to a report of a magistrate judge, we make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge to which there are objections. See United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667 (1980); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Local Rule 72.3l. Furthermore, district judges have wide discretion as to how they treat recommendations of a magistrate judge. See id. Indeed, in providing for a de novo review determination rather than a de novo hearing, Congress intended to permit whatever reliance a district judge, in the exercise of sound discretion, chooses to place on a magistrate judge's proposed findings and recommendations. See id., see also Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 275 (1976); Goney v. Clark, 749 F.2d 5, 7 (3d Cir. 1984).


The Magistrate Judge provided a detailed rendition of the factual background in this case. Accordingly, to summarize, Plaintiff alleges that on September 9, 2004, prison personnel conducted a general search for contraband of Plaintiff's housing unit, which involved two correctional officers ordering Plaintiff to strip to his underwear, removing him from his cell, handcuffing his arms behind his back, and asking Plaintiff questions concerning their search outside his cell. Defendant Mitchell twice told Plaintiff not to turn his head when responding to the officers' questions. When Plaintiff explained that he was trying to answer the other officers' questions, Defendant Mitchell ordered him not to turn his head and to "stop smart assing with him." (Rep. & Rec. at 4). Defendant Mitchell dragged Plaintiff around the corner when Plaintiff again tried to explain why he was turning his head and ordered Plaintiff to kneel. Plaintiff refused, fearing he would be beaten, which resulted in Defendant Mitchell seizing Plaintiff and throwing him to the floor. Defendant Mitchell then stepped on Plaintiff's back and continued to raise his cuffed hands, despite Plaintiff's "excruciating pain."

During this assault, Correctional Officer Cavalucci ("C.O. Cavalucci") was present and Plaintiff alleges that C.O. Cavalucci told Defendant Mitchell to stop his assault. A sergeant ordered Defendant Mitchell to take Plaintiff to administrative custody. On the way to administrative custody, Plaintiff was rebuffed after attempting to complain to Lieutenant Yarger. Plaintiff then complained to Captain Eaton, who ordered C.O. Cavalucci to assist Defendant Mitchell in taking Plaintiff to the infirmary for medical attention. (Rep. & Rec. at 5). At the infirmary, Nurse Hayes examined Plaintiff and stated it appeared as if he had been involved in a fight. When she asked Plaintiff what occurred, Defendant Mitchell ordered him not to respond.

On October 12, 2004, Plaintiff filed an official grievance alleging physical abuse, denial of proper medical care, and denial of procedural due process to which Captain Eaton, the responding official, indicated that Plaintiff received medical attention and received a misconduct for his behavior. (Rep. & Rec. at 6). Plaintiff appealed the decision to Defendant Tennis, the superintendent of SCIRockview, who, without conducting his own investigation and reliant upon Captain Eaton's findings, upheld ...

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