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Williams v. Lightcap

July 27, 2007

LARRY WILLIAMS, PLAINTIFF
v.
JAMES LIGHTCAP, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Judge Kane

MEMORANDUM

Before the Court are Plaintiff Larry Williams's pro se complaint and request for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. Nos. 1, 2), Magistrate Judge Blewitt's report and recommendation screening Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (Doc. No. 6), and Plaintiff's objections to the report and recommendations (Doc. No. 9).*fn1 For the reasons that follow, the Court will adopt the report and recommendation and overrule Plaintiff's objections. Also before the Court is Plaintiff's motion to appoint counsel (Doc. No. 7), which the Court will deny without prejudice.

I. BACKGROUND

As set forth more fully in Magistrate Judge Blewitt's report and recommendation, Plaintiff purports to assert several constitutional claims brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against various named and unnamed prison officials, as well as against state prison SCI-Dallas and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections' central office. Plaintiff claims that:

* He was "falsely accused, arrested, convicted, and sentenced, [and] . . . falsely imprisoned."

* Unnamed staff members at SCI-Dallas are preventing him from receiving a retrial.

* Unnamed staff members at SCI-Dallas have kept him in segregated housing by generating falsified misconduct reports about him.

* Unnamed staff members at SCI-Dallas endangered his life by failing to evacuate him when there was a fire in a prison cell nineteen cells away from his cell and one floor above him.

* James Lightcap, the bookkeeper at SCI-Dallas, has "repeatedly, knowingly, and willingly illegally deducted mon[ies] from my account."

For these alleged violations of his constitutional rights, Plaintiff seeks $3 million in damages and a transfer to another correctional facility. Plaintiff also asks the Court to "possibly file criminal charges if deemed feasible on [his] behalf." In a separate motion, Plaintiff further requests that the Court appoint him counsel to pursue these claims.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C), "[a] judge of the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made. A judge of the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." Id.

As explained by Magistrate Judge Blewitt, a court must review the complaint of a plaintiff seeking to proceed in forma pauperis prior to service of process under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). See also 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a) (addressing the screening of claims by prisoners against governmental employees and officers). If the court determines that an action fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, dismissal of that claim is required. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii); see also id. § 1915A(b)(1). The standard of review for failure to state a claim in this context is the same as the standard governing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 110 (3d Cir. 2002). Thus, dismissal is proper when the defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Markowitz v. Northeast Land Co., 906 F.2d 100, 103 (3d Cir. 1990). To avoid dismissal, the complaint must contain allegations sufficient to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964 (2007) (citations omitted). Essentially, a plaintiff must "set forth sufficient information to outline the elements of his claim or to permit inferences to be drawn that those elements exist." Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993) (citation omitted).

Although the court is generally limited in its review to the face of 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. 1997); see also In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997). Additionally, when evaluating a motion to dismiss, a court need not ...


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