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Brown v. Blue

November 10, 2009

DERRICK L. BROWN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SCOTT BLUE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Vanaskie

MEMORANDUM

Background

Derrick L. Brown, an inmate presently confined at the United States Penitentiary, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania (USP-Lewisburg), proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights complaint on October 8, 2009.*fn1 Along with his complaint, Brown has submitted an application requesting leave to proceed in forma pauperis.

Named as Defendants are the following USP-Lewisburg officials: Warden B. A. Bledsoe; Chief Psychologist L. Karpen; Associate Wardens C. Maiorana and K. Rear; Unit Manager John Adami; Case Manager Matt Rodarmel; Lieutenant S. Heath; Correctional Officer Scott Blue; Administrative Remedy Coordinator Scott Finley; "S.I.S." N. Dreese and J. Moscerallo; S.I.A. F. Perrin; and "SMTS" Heather Birdsall. (Dkt. Entry # 1. at 1-a.)

The Complaint states that on the afternoon of July 29, 2009 inmate Darryl Lee Jamie committed suicide by hanging himself in his Special Management Unit (SMU) cell. Jamie's death was discovered by Correctional Officer Blue, "while finally making his first ever security rounds for that day." (Id. at 2-a.). The Complaint generally alleges that the failure to prevent Jamie's suicide was due to Defendants' "negligence, gross negligence and intentional wrongs." (Id.) The Complaint adds that "no thorough investigation" was conducted. (Id.)

According to the Complaint, Defendants' failure to perform their duties "has placed every prisoner ...in great fear, imminent danger and unsafe [sic]!" (Id.) The Complaint alleges that Plaintiffs suffered emotional distress as a result of witnessing "all that transpired"and notes that no counseling services were made available following the incident. (Id.) The Complaint seeks an award of compensatory and punitive damages as well as declaratory and injunctive relief, including Plaintiffs' immediate release.

The complaint is currently before the Court for preliminary screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b).*fn2 For the reasons that follow, the Complaint will be dismissed.

Discussion

When considering a complaint accompanied by a motion to proceed informapauperis, a district court may rule that process should not issue 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), Douris v. Middleton Township, 293 Fed. Appx. 130, 132 (3d Cir. 2008). Indisputably meritless legal theories are those "in which either it is readily apparent that the plaintiff's complaint lacks an arguable basis in law or that the defendants are clearly entitled to immunity from suit ... ." Roman v. Jeffes, 904 F.2d 192, 194 (3d Cir. 1990) (quoting Sultenfuss v. Snow, 894 F.2d 1277, 1278 (11th Cir. 1990)). Emotional Injury Congress has provided 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, § 1997e(e) bars recovery of compensatory damages. Since there are no physical injuries to either Plaintiff described or alleged in the Complaint, there is no viable basis for an award of compensatory damages.

Immediate Release

As partial relief, Plaintiffs seek their immediate release from custody. It is well-settled that inmates may not use civil rights actions to challenge the fact or duration of their confinement or to seek earlier or speedier release. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475 (1975).

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has similarly recognized that civil rights claims seeking release from confinement sound in habeas corpus. See Georgevich v. Strauss, 772 F.2d 1078, 1086 (3d Cir. 1985). Pursuant to the standards announced in Preiser and Georgevich, Plaintiffs' request for immediate release cannot be entertained by this Court.

Standing

A party may represent his or her own interests in federal court. See Winkelman v. Parma City School District, 127 S.Ct. 1994, 1999 (2007). However, a plaintiff must have standing in order to bring a claim in federal court. Standing is established when a plaintiff shows that he or she has "suffered an injury in fact-an invasion of a legally protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized; and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical." Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992); Marin v. Leslie, 2009 WL 1949136 * 1 (3d Cir. July 8, 2009). A plaintiff must "allege personal injury fairly traceable to the defendant's allegedly ...


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