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Thomas v. Sci-Dallas

August 10, 2007


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


(Chief Judge Kane)

Before the Court is a motion to dismiss (Doc. No. 13) Plaintiff Donald James Thomas's civil rights complaint (Doc. No. 1) filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on behalf of Defendants State Correctional Institution at Dallas ("SCI-Dallas"), Sergeant John Konycki ("Konycki"), Correctional Officer Christopher Angelovic ("Angelovic") and Correctional Officer Ralph Liauvara ("Liauvara"). For the reasons discussed below, the motion will be granted in part and denied in part.


The allegations in the complaint regarding Defendant Konycki, a sergeant in the restricted housing unit ("RHU") of SCI-Dallas, are fairly sparse. Plaintiff asserts that Sergeant Konycki is Plaintiff's girlfriend's former brother-in-law, and that Defendant Konycki worked with the other individual co-defendants assigned to the RHU. Plaintiff claims that Defendant Konycki was questioned about Plaintiff's possession of contraband and was embarrassed by the incident.

Plaintiff also claims that on August 9, 2006, Defendant Angelovic, a correctional officer at SCI-Dallas, filed a misconduct report alleging that Plaintiff possessed contraband in violation of prison policies. Allegedly, Defendant Angelovic claimed to have written Plaintiff up as "a favor for his buddy."*fn2 Plaintiff also alleges that during a visit with his girlfriend, Plaintiff complained to her about the allegedly falsified misconduct report and pointed out Defendant Angelovic to her. After Plaintiff left the visiting area, Defendant Angelovic allegedly grabbed Plaintiff's neck, shook him, and threatened to beat him for "running [his] mouth." Thereafter, Defendant Angelovic purportedly smashed Plaintiff's head off the wall, shoved him, shook him, and told Plaintiff he "was done for."

Plaintiff apparently filed a grievance pertaining either to the misconduct report or to the alleged assault. When the grievance was denied, Defendant Liauvara, another correctional officer in the RHU, refused to feed Plaintiff and said, "Let the games begin."*fn3 Plaintiff asserts that an unidentified "they" also "came to [his] door and said [he] better stop filing paperwork on them, [that] they can play games to[o]. . . [that] they were going to get [him]." Plaintiff also claims that "they" refuse to provide him his paperwork and will not take his mail, and he believes that "they" are throwing away either the mail, the paperwork, or both.*fn4

Lastly, Plaintiff claims that SCI-Dallas did not adequately investigate the above-mentioned incidents. For these alleged violations of his civil rights, Plaintiff seeks to have the allegedly false misconduct report expunged, and requests compensatory damage, reimbursement of the filing fee, and a transfer to a different state correctional institution.

In their motion to dismiss, Defendants advance several arguments. First, they contend that SCI-Dallas is not a proper party to this action and immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment. Defendants argue that the individual defendants in their official capacities are similarly immune from suit. Finaly, Defendants claim that Plaintiff has inadequately alleged personal involvement by Defendants Konycki and Liauvara in any violation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights.*fn5


A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint, Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993), and is properly granted when, taking all factual allegations and inferences as true, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Markowitz v. Northeast Land Co., 906 F.2d 100, 103 (3d Cir. 1990). 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).

Although the moving party bears the burden of showing that no claim has been stated, Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2007), the plaintiff has an obligation to allege facts 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) (internal citations omitted); see also Kost, 1 F.3d at 183 (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.") (citation omitted). Furthermore, "once a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint." Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1960. When evaluating a motion to dismiss, a court need not "credit a complaint's 'bald assertions' or 'legal conclusions.'" Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 354-55 (3d Cir. 2005). Finally, when a plaintiff fails to plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1960, the complaint should be dismissed.


Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, which offers private citizens a cause of action for violations of federal law by state officials. The ...

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