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Walker v. Carrasquillo

April 24, 2006

MICHAEL WALKER, PLAINTIFF
v.
P. CARRASQUILLO, LIEUTENANT DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge McClure

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Background

This pro se civil rights action was initiated by Michael Walker ("Plaintiff"), an inmate presently confined at the United States Penitentiary, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania ("USP-Lewisburg"). Plaintiff has submitted an application requesting leave to proceed in forma pauperis, which will be granted. For the reasons set forth below, Walker's complaint will be dismissed, without prejudice, as legally frivolous under 28 U.S.C. § 1915.

Named as sole Defendant is USP-Lewisburg Lieutenant P. Carrasquillo.

Walker states that on March 19, 2006, Lieutenant Carrasquillo and another correctional officer interrogated him regarding a violation of prison policy. See Record document no. 1, ¶ 1. During this questioning, it is alleged that the Defendant verbally threatened Walker with physical harm. Plaintiff adds that Carrasquillo also made sexually derogatory remarks about his mother and sister. Furthermore, the Defendant "then told Plaintiff that he kind like [sic] him while in discussion with another officer." Id. at ¶ 4. Walker concludes that the above purported comments are properly characterized as being threats and sexual proposals and constitute violations of his constitutional rights. His seeks fifty thousand dollars ($50,000.00) in compensatory damages for fear, pain, emotional scars, stress, and mental anguish.

Discussion

28 U.S.C. § 1915 imposes obligations on prisoners who file civil actions in federal court and wish to proceed in forma pauperis. § 1915(e)(2) provides:

(2) Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that (A) the allegation of poverty is untrue; or (B) the action or appeal (i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.

Consequently, federal courts reviewing civil rights complaints filed by persons wishing to proceed in forma pauperis 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).*fn1 In Deutsch v. United States, 67 F.3d 1080, 1083 (3d Cir. 1995), the Third Circuit 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." "The frivolousness determination is a discretionary one," and trial courts "are in the best position" to determine when an indigent litigant's complaint is appropriate for summary dismissal. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992).

In order to state an actionable civil rights claim, a plaintiff must plead two essential elements: (1) that the conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under color of law, and (2) that said conduct deprived the plaintiff of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States.

Groman v. Township of Manalapan, 47 F.3d 628, 638 (3d Cir. 1995); Shaw by Strain v. Strackhouse, 920 F.2d 1135, 1141-42 (3d Cir. 1990).

Mental and Emotional Injury

Walker alleges that he suffered mental and emotional injuries as a result of the Defendant's alleged conduct. There are no alleged physical injuries described or alleged in the complaint.

42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e) provides that "[n]o federal civil action may be brought by a prisoner confined in a jail, prison or other correctional facility, for mental or emotional injury suffered while in custody without a prior showing of physical injury." In Allah v. Al-Hafeez, 226 F.3d 247,250 (3d Cir. 2000), the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recognized that where a plaintiff fails to allege actual injury, Section 1997e(e) bars recovery of compensatory damages. However, the Court added that an inmate alleging a violation ...


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