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Davis v. Cambell

January 26, 2009

CHARLES DAVIS, JR., PLAINTIFF
v.
CAMBELL, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Rambo

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiff Charles Davis, Jr. ("Davis"), an inmate currently confined at the Warren State Hospital in North Warren, Pennsylvania, filed this civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on December 15, 2008. (Doc. 1.) Named as defendants are a number of state and local officials from Snyder and Northumberland Counties, Pennsylvania. Along with his complaint, Davis has also submitted an application seeking leave to proceed in forma pauperis and an authorization form. (Docs. 2 & 3.) The case is presently before the court for preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). For the reasons set forth below, certain claims in the instant complaint will be dismissed as frivolous. The remaining claims in the complaint will be dismissed for failure to comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. However, Davis will be afforded the opportunity to submit an amended complaint pursuant to the Federal Rules. Failure to do so will result in closure of this case.

I. Background

As previously stated, the instant case was initiated pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on December 15, 2008. In the instant § 1983 complaint Davis raises six (6) claims. However, the court takes judicial notice that Davis previously filed a § 1983 complaint in the Middle District on November 20, 2008, naming as defendants many of the individuals named in the instant complaint and asserting many similar claims. See Davis v. Sunbury Police Dept., Civ. No. 3:08-CV-2105 (Nov. 20, 2008) ("Davis-I"). Pursuant to § 1915, all claims in that complaint were dismissed as frivolous. Thus, the court will review the instant complaint to determine whether, like the claims in Davis-I, the instant claims must be dismissed as frivolous.

II. Discussion

A plaintiff, in order to state a viable § 1983 claim, must plead two essential elements: 1) that the conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under color of state law, and 2) that said conduct deprived the plaintiff of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). A defendant's conduct must have a close causal connection to plaintiff's injury in order for § 1983 liability to attach. Martinez v. California, 444 U.S. 277, 285 (1980).*fn1 A prerequisite for a viable civil rights claim is that a defendant directed, or knew of and acquiesced in, the deprivation of a plaintiff's constitutional rights. E.g., Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of City of N.Y., 436 U.S. 658, 694--95 (1979); Rode v. Dellarciprete, 845 F.2d 1195, 1207--08 (3d Cir. 1988). Liability may not be imposed under § 1983 on the principle of respondeat superior. Goode v. Rizzo, 506 F.2d 542, 550 (3d Cir. 1974), rev'd on other grounds, 423 U.S. 362 (1976); Hampton v. Holmesburg Prison Officials, 546 F.2d 1077, 1082 (3d Cir. 1976).

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e),*fn2 the court is permitted "to consider whether an in forma pauperis complaint is frivolous or malicious before authorizing issuance of the summons and service of the complaint." Urrutia v. Harrisburg County Police Dept., 91 F.3d 451, 453 (3d Cir. 1996). The court may "dismiss as frivolous claims based on an indisputably meritless legal theory and whose factual contentions are clearly baseless." Roman v. Jeffes, 904 F.2d 192, 194 (3d Cir. 1990).

The court will address each of Davis' claims in turn.*fn3

A. Claim 1

The first claim in the instant complaint is identical to the first claim in Davis-I. In fact, Davis appears to have photocopied the page containing this claim. In both claims, Davis names as defendants Officer Scott Hause of the Sunbury Police Department; Chad Reiner, Sheriff, Northumberland County; District Magistrate Robert Bolten; Officer Christopher Brown of the Sunbury Police Department; Chief Lockcuff; and Justin Harrington. Davis also provides the same factual recitation of this claim. In both complaints, he asserts that he is being falsely accused of committing an aggravated assault upon Defendant Hause. In addition, he seems to complain that the defendant officers arrived at his residence with a piece of paper from Judge Bolten's office informing him of a preliminary hearing. This visit from police evidently put Davis in fear of his life. While the instant complaint does provide an extra sheet with facts appearing to relate to this first claim, nothing in that factual recitation provides additional information giving rise to a constitutional claim against the named defendants. Thus, as in Davis-I, this claim will be dismissed as frivolous.

B. Claim 2

The second claim in the instant complaint is identical to the second claim in Davis-I. In both claims, Davis names as defendants Pennsylvania State Trooper Ryan R. Maxwell; Officer Vernon Petty of the Sunbury Police Department; John Henry Reed, Chief Public Defender of Snyder County; Pat Johnson, Public Defender; and Snyder County District Magistrate Edward G. Mahalik, Jr. Davis also provides the same factual recitation of this claim, absent any facts relating to a claim against Defendant Mahalik. In both complaints, Davis asserts a claim for false arrest and false imprisonment against Defendant Maxwell. He also asserts a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel against the public defender. Thus, as in Davis-I, this claim will be dismissed as frivolous.

C. Claim 3

The third claim in the instant complaint is identical to the fourth claim in Davis-I. In fact, Davis appears to have photocopied the page containing this claim, and inexplicably omitted one date (March 10, 2008). In both claims, Davis names as defendants Ruth Rush, Warden of the Snyder County Prison; and John Rosinski, Northumberland County Probation Officer. Davis also provides the same factual recitation of this claim. In both ...


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