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Scott v. Luther

May 26, 2010

BERNARD R. SCOTT, PLAINTIFF
v.
JAMEY P. LUTHER; JAMES WARRINGTON; MICHELLE DRISKEL HOUSER; JAMES M. SUTTON, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Magistrate Judge Amy Reynolds Hay

Judge Terrence F. McVerry

Re: Dkt. [42]

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

I. Recommendation

It is respectfully recommended that Defendants' motion to dismiss be granted albeit without prejudice to Plaintiff filing an amended complaint within a time specified by the District Judge if the District Judge accepts this report and recommendation.

II. Report

Relevant Procedural History Bernard Scott ("Plaintiff") is currently incarcerated in SCI-Cresson, specifically, at the Secure Special Needs Unit ("SSNU") at that prison.*fn1 Since the time of his incarceration, Plaintiff has filed several prisoner civil rights actions other than the current one.*fn2 In the civil rights case at hand, Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis. In conclusory fashion, the operative complaint (Dkt. [38]) alleges a whole host of wrongs apparently beginning in August 8, 2008 and continuing to the date of the signing of the operative complaint, i.e., January 12, 2010, the date the operative complaint is deemed to have been filed pursuant to the so-called prisoner mail box rule. The complaint names four defendants: (1) Jamey P. Luther, Deputy Superintendent for Centralized Services; (2) James Warrington, Chief Psychologist; (3) Michelle Driskel Houser, Unit Manager; and (4) James Sutton, the Mail Room Supervisor.*fn3

Presently before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. [42]), to which Plaintiff responded.*fn4 For the reasons set forth below, the Defendants' motion is properly dismissed without prejudice.

Standard of Review and the PLRA

As the United States Supreme Court held in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), a complaint may properly be dismissed pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12 (b)(6) if it does not allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 1974 (rejecting the traditional 12 (b)(6) standard set forth in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)). Under this standard, the court must, as a general rule, accept as true all factual allegations of the Complaint and all reasonable inferences must be viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiff. Angelastro v. Prudential-Bache Securities, Inc., 764 F.2d 939, 944 (3d Cir. 1985). Nevertheless, under the 12(b)(6) standard, a "court need not . . . accept as true allegations that contradict matters properly subject to judicial notice or by exhibit." Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9 th Cir. 2001), amended by, 275 F.3d 1187 (9 th Cir. 2001). Nor must the Court accept inferences drawn by plaintiff if they are unsupported by the facts as set forth in the complaint. See California Pub. Employee Ret. Sys. v. The Chubb Corp., 394 F.3d 126, 143 (3d Cir. 2004) (citing Morse v. Lower Merion School Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997)). Nor must the court accept legal conclusions set forth as factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)).

The question to be resolved is: whether, taking the factual allegations of the complaint that are not contradicted, and taking all reasonable inferences to be drawn from them, are the "factual allegations . . . enough 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[.]" Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Or, put another way, a complaint may be dismissed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570.

Recently, the Supreme Court refined its standard for summary dismissal of a complaint that fails to state a claim in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, __ U.S. __, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (May 18, 2009). Expanding on its decision in Twombly, the Supreme Court identified two working principles underlying the failure to state a claim standard:

First, the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.. Rule 8 marks a notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era, but it does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions. Second, only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will.be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense. But where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not "show[n]"-"that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 8(a)(2).

Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50. To meet Fed.R.Civ. P. No. 8(a)(2)'s notice pleading requirements, "the complaint must describe the claim in sufficient detail to give the defendant 'fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests,'" Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). See also 5C Wright & Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure ยง 1363 at 112 (3d ed. 2004) ("A motion to dismiss for failure to state a ...


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