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Boyer v. Beard

January 29, 2007

EDWIN BOYER, PLAINTIFF
v.
JEFFERY BEARD, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Kosik

MEMORANDUM

Introduction

Edwin Boyer, an inmate currently confined at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill ("SCI-Camp Hill"), Pennsylvania, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Named as defendants are Jeffery Beard, Secretary of the Department of Corrections ("DOC"), John Schaffer, Deputy Secretary of the DOC, and the following SCI-Camp Hill employees: Donald Kelchner, Superintendent; Rick Southers, Manager of the Special Management Unit ("SMU") and Mr. Chambers, Unit Counselor in the SMU. Also listed are three (3) Doe defendants that Plaintiff only labels as DOC employees who are members of the PRC.

In the complaint, Plaintiff challenges his confinement in the Special Management Unit at SCI-Camp Hill. He contends that he was placed in the SMU on November 30, 2005, in violation of due process as well as DC-ADM 802-2 because he did not first receive a hearing. Service of the complaint was directed on Defendants on March 22, 2006 (Doc. 9.) Pending in this case is a motion to dismiss the complaint filed by Defendants Beard, Kelchner, Southers, Chambers and Schaffer.*fn1 (Doc. 17.) Instead of filing opposition to the motion to dismiss, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend his complaint on July 31, 2006, and submitted a proposed amended complaint (Doc. 22). He also filed a motion to compel the production of documents/responses to interrogatory questions on the same date. A brief in support of the motion has also been filed.*fn2 Also pending are the following motions filed by Defendants Beard, Kelchner, Southers, Chambers and Schaffer: a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's amended complaint (Doc. 28) which has been fully briefed by the parties, and a motion to stay discovery in light of the pending motion to dismiss the amended complaint (Doc. 30). The court will now address these motions.

Background

In the original complaint, Plaintiff sets forth allegations of a denial of due process in connection with his transfer into the SMU at SCI-Camp Hill. He contends that his transfer was arbitrary and without the necessary due process, and that he is subjected to atypical and significant hardship in the SMU. Although he filed grievances, Defendants failed to remedy the problem. However he does admit that on December 22, 2005, less than one (1) month following his transfer, Defendants did attempt to provide him with a telephonic hearing. He challenges this effort in that it did not occur prior to his placement in the SMU. Plaintiff seeks monetary, injunctive and declaratory relief.

Discussion

A. Plaintiff's Motion to Amend the Complaint

Defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint (Doc. 17) on the basis that Plaintiff did not suffer any atypical and significant hardship entitling him to due process protections and that, even if he had, the post-transfer hearing satisfied the due process requirement. Plaintiff did not oppose this motion, but rather, filed a motion to amend his complaint along with a proposed amended complaint on July 31, 2006. It is well-established that Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides this court with discretion to grant or deny leave to amend a pleading. Zenith Radio Corp. v. Hazeltine Research, Inc., 401 U.S. 321, 330 (1971). The rule, however, advises that "leave shall be freely given when justice so requires," Fed. R. Civ.. P. 15(a), and, in general, courts liberally permit parties to amend their pleadings. See Boileau v. Bethlehem Steel Corp., 730 F.2d 929, 938 (3d Cir. 1984); Cornell & Co. v. Occupational Safety & Health Review Comm'n, 573 F.2d 820, 823 (3d Cir. 1978).

Despite this general liberality, the Supreme Court has enumerated specific factors that may justify the denial of leave to amend. See Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). These factors include "undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party, [and] futility of amendment." Id. at 182; see also Bailey v. United Airlines, 279 F.3d 194 (3d Cir. 2002). A denial of leave to amend where none of these factors are present is an abuse of discretion. Alvin v. Suzuki, 227 F.3d 107, 121 (3d Cir. 2000). "It is well-settled that prejudice to the non-moving party is the touchstone for the denial of an amendment." Cornell & Co., 573 F.2d at 823.

In the instant case there is no indication that there is any bad faith or dilatory motivation behind Plaintiff's request to amend his complaint. In the amended complaint submitted, Plaintiff does not seek to add any new parties, but rather, he fleshes out his denial of due process claim and his contention that he is being subjected to atypical and significant conditions in the SMU. The defendants have not filed any opposition to his motion to amend, but rather, have submitted a motion to dismiss the amended complaint on the basis of failure to state a claim. Based upon the procedural status of the case, the amended complaint (Doc. 22) will be accepted by the court as the standing complaint in this matter. Defendants' first motion to dismiss (Doc. 17) will be denied as moot, and the court will proceed to address their motion to dismiss the amended complaint which is fully briefed.

B. Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a defendant, in response to a complaint, to file a motion to dismiss a complaint for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted . . . ." A motion to dismiss should not be granted if "under any reasonable reading of the pleadings, the plaintiff [ ] may be entitled to relief . . . ." Langford v. City of Atlantic City, 235 F.3d 845, 847 (3d Cir. 2000). In making that decision, the court must accept as true all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint, Maio v. Aetna, Inc., 221 F.3d 472, 481-82 (3d Cir. 2000), and construe any reasonable inferences to be drawn from them in the plaintiff's favor. See United States v. Occidental Chemical Corp., 200 F.3d 143, 147 (3d Cir. 1999). Consequently, the court need not accept "bald assertions" or "legal conclusions." Morse v. Lower Merion School District, 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). Likewise, the court need not "conjure up unpled allegations or contrive elaborately arcane scripts" in order to breathe life into an otherwise defective complaint. Gooley v. Mobil Oil Corp., 851 F.2d 513, 514 (1st Cir. 1988). A complaint that sets forth facts which affirmatively demonstrate that the plaintiff has no right to recover is properly dismissed without leave to amend. Grayson v. Mayview State Hospital, 293 F.3d 103, 106 (3d Cir. 2002); Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 107-08 (1976).

The motion to dismiss the amended complaint filed by Defendants Beard, Kelchner, Southers, Chambers and Schaffer (Doc. 28) is before the court for consideration in light of the foregoing principles. In the amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges that on July 8, 2005, Defendant Beard instituted policy DC-ADM 802-2 which provides that prior to an inmate's transfer to a Special Housing Unit, the inmate is to be placed on notice of said transfer, informed of the reason(s) for the transfer and given an opportunity to respond. Plaintiff states that on October 20, 2005, he was seen by the PRC Board regarding his placement in the Restrictive Housing Unit ("RHU"), but was never told that he was going to be transferred to the ...


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