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Elliott v. Vaughn

April 10, 2006

JOSEPH A. ELLIOTT, SR., PLAINTIFF :
v.
SUPERINTENDENT DONALD VAUGHN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



Judge Conner

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the court is defendants' motion to dismiss (Doc. 97) portions of the amended complaint (Doc. 72) filed by plaintiff Joseph A. Elliott, Sr. ("Elliott"). For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be granted. In addition, a portion of the complaint will be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

I. Statement of Facts*fn1

Elliott alleges that, on January 27, 2004, he was involuntarily transferred to a mental health unit in retaliation for filing grievances and lawsuits. (Doc. 72, p. 6). He alleges that defendant Edward G. Rendell ("Rendell"), the Governor of Pennsylvania and the "Chief Executive Officer of the PDOC" was aware of the involuntary transfer and did nothing to help him. (Doc. 72, p. 5-6).

Elliott also alleges that, since the transfer, he has been deprived of his personal and legal property. (Doc. 72, pp. 9-11). He raised this issue in grievances, which were purportedly denied for frivolous reasons by the grievance coordinator, defendant Ian W. Taggart ("Taggart"). (Doc. 72, pp. 13-14). Elliott alleges that he corresponded with defendant Michael Farnan ("Farnan"), Chief Counsel of the Department of Corrections, on two separate occasions, requesting his assistance in gaining access to his property. According to Elliott, Farnan wrongfully refused to assist him. (Doc. 72, p. 14).

In addition Elliott challenges the conditions of his confinement. He contends that defendants wrongfully withheld his shower shoes and that, on January 30, 2004, he was forced to shower in canvas sneakers and to wear wet sneakers all day.

II. Motion to Dismiss

A. Standard of Review

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for dismissal of a claim that fails to assert a basis upon which relief can be granted. FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). In the context of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must accept as true all of the factual allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom. Langford v. City of Atlantic City, 235 F.3d 845, 847 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1996)). Although the court is generally limited in its review to the facts alleged in the complaint, it "may also consider matters of public record, orders, exhibits attached to the complaint and items appearing in the record of the case." Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 n.2 (3d Cir. 1994); see also In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997) (stating that, although "a district court ruling on a motion to dismiss may not [generally] consider matters extraneous to the pleadings[,] . . . a document integral to or explicitly relied upon in the complaint" may be considered "without converting the motion [to dismiss] into one for summary judgment") (quoting Shaw v. Digital Equip. Corp., 82 F.3d 1194, 1224 (1st Cir. 1996)).

The court will not dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond a doubt that "no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations." Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514 (2002). "The complaint will be deemed to have alleged sufficient facts if it adequately put[s] the defendant on notice of the essential elements of the plaintiff's cause of action." Langford, 235 F.3d at 847. The court must grant leave to amend before dismissing a complaint that is merely deficient. See Shane v. Fauver, 213 F.3d 113, 116-17 (3d Cir. 2000).

B. Discussion

Section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code offers private citizens a cause of action for violations of federal law by state officials. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The statute provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress. . . .

Id.; see also Gonzaga Univ. v. Doe, 536 U.S. 273, 284-85 (2002); Kneipp v. Tedder, 95 F.3d 1199, 1204 (3d Cir. 1996). To establish a civil rights claim, the plaintiff must show a "deprivation" of a constitutional or statutory right by a person "acting under color of state law." Id. ...


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