Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Merring v. O'Brien

January 4, 2010

BENJAMIN WAYNE MERRING, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COREY O'BRIEN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. John E. Jones III

MEMORANDUM

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS MEMORANDUM IS AS FOLLOWS:

Plaintiff Benjamin Wayne Merring, an inmate presently confined at the Camp Hill State Correctional Institution ("SCI-Camp Hill") in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, initiated the above pro se action by filing a Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.*fn1 (Doc. 1.) He also has filed a Motion for Leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 5.) Based on the request to proceed in forma pauperis, the Complaint is before the Court for screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's claims will be dismissed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

I. ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT

In his Complaint, filed on November 2, 2009, Merring names the Lackawanna County Commissioners, Prison Board Members, Warden of the Lackawanna County Prison ("LCP"), two Assistant Wardens at LCP, six LCP Correctional Officers, and the Reverend Jackson. (Doc. 1 at 1.) Merring alleges that, on September 29, 2009, he was arrested for alleged probation violations and taken to LCP. (Id. at 2, 3.) He claims that, even though he told LCP staff at booking that he was a Christian and wanted a Bible, he was not offered a Bible before he was taken to his cell. (Id. at 3.)

The next morning, Merring submitted a request form to Correctional Officer Noldy stating "I am a follower of Christ may I please have a Bible." (Id.) Correctional Officer Noldy took the request form to his desk, signed it, and returned the pink copy to Merring. (Id.)

On October 6, 2009, Merring was still without a Bible, and so he submitted a second request form to Correctional Officer Walsh. (Id.) Walsh took the request form, signed it, and returned the pink copy to Merring. (Id.)

The next week, Merring got a new cell mate who had a Bible. (Id.) When Merring asked his cell mate where he got the Bible, he told Merring that it had been offered to him at booking. (Id. at 3-4.) The cell mate shared his Bible with Merring until he was moved and Merring was again without a Bible. (Id. at 4.)

On October 12, 2009, Merring gave a third written request form for a Bible to a John Doe Correctional Officer who signed the form and returned the pink copy to Merring. (Id.)

On October 14, 2009, Merring handed a grievance form to Correctional Officer Noldy stating that he was being denied his religious liberty to worship because he was without a Bible despite his submission of three requests for a Bible. (Id.) As relief, he requested a Bible. (Id.) After reading the grievance, Noldy told Merring that he was not being denied anything, and that if he wanted a Bible, all he had to do was ask. (Id. at 4-5.) When Merring reminded Noldy that he previously had submitted a request form to him, Noldy responded, "I never read these." (Id. at 5.) Shortly after their exchange, Noldy informed Merring that he had left a message for Reverend Jackson and that Merring should have a Bible before the end of his shift. (Id.)

Four days later, Merring still did not have a Bible. (Id.) When Correctional Officer Noldy saw Merring in the stairway, he asked him if he had received a Bible, and Merring said that he had not. (Id.) Sometime after lunch, Noldy opened Plaintiff's cell and handed him a Bible. (Id.) Even though the Bible was a "Catholic Bible," and Merring is not Catholic, he was still grateful for the Bible and began reading it. (Id.)

On October 20, 2009, the Reverend Jackson left a King James Bible at the desk in the Classification Department with a note on it that said "Merring." (Id.) One of the block workers brought the Bible to Merring's cell and gave it to him. (Id.)

Merring alleges that LCP staff failed to follow the rules and regulations outlined in the LCP Inmate Handbook by failing to timely respond to his grievance. (Id. at 6.) He claims that nobody spoke to him about his grievance or followed up to see if he received a Bible or made any effort to determine why it took twenty days for him to get a suitable Bible. (Id.) He alleges that his religious convictions are well-known to LCP staff as a result of his previous incarceration, and thus they knew or should have known the importance to him of having a Bible. (Id. at 6-7.)

As relief, Merring seeks disciplinary action against the prison staff, meaningful changes in the LCP prison policies, rules, and regulations, actual and punitive damages, and "other just and ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.