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McKinney v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation & Parole

July 6, 2010

DERRICK LEVI MCKINNEY
v.
PENNSYLVANIA BOARD OF PROBATION & PAROLE, ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Savage, J.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Introduction

In this pro se action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Derrick McKinney ("McKinney") seeks injunctive relief and money damages, claiming he has been imprisoned beyond the maximum terms of his sentences on several convictions and a parole violation. He has sued the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole ("PBPP"), the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("DOC"), the City of Philadelphia ("City"), County of Montgomery ("Montco"), County of Cumberland*fn1 and John and Jane Doe, asserting that they violated his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment due process and equal protection rights when they incorrectly calculated his maximum sentence and failed to afford him a revocation or parole hearing, resulting in his being wrongfully jailed beyond the expiration of his legal sentence.

The PBPP, the DOC, Montco and the City have moved to dismiss the complaint. Each of these defendants contends that McKinney's claims for injunctive relief are barred because a writ of habeas corpus is the sole remedy, and his claims for damages are barred because a determination in his favor would demonstrate the invalidity of his criminal conviction or sentence. The PBPP and DOC also argue that they are entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity and they are not liable for monetary damages under § 1983 because they are not "persons" under § 1983. Montco argues that McKinney cannot make out a claim of municipal liability because he has failed to identify any policy or custom that caused his unlawful confinement. It also asserts that punitive damages are not an available remedy in § 1983 claims against governmental entities.

In his response to the motions, McKinney argues that his § 1983 claims are not barred because he has "fully satisfied" his sentences. He also asserts that he is not challenging his convictions or the sentences. He further contends that the Eleventh Amendment does not bar his claim for damages against the PBPP, DOC and John and Jane Does because they are officials who acted under the color of law. In his response to Montco's motion, he suggests an additional basis for liability, arguing that detention beyond his maximum sentence constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

The PBPP and DOC are not "persons" under § 1983, and they are entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity. Also, McKinney has not identified any policy or custom implemented by Montco or the City that caused his unlawful confinement. Therefore, we shall grant the motions to dismiss.

Facts

McKinney recites a chronology of his criminal history, listing his different sentences dating back to 1990. He includes actions by the PBPP when it revoked his parole. He presents his own calculation of his maximum sentence which he contends expired on December 12, 2007. For the purposes of these motions, we shall assume that he is correct and he had been detained beyond his legal release date.

McKinney has since been released from DOC custody and is not under PBPP supervision. Status Report - June 22, 2010 (Doc. No. 25) Thus, his injunctive relief claims are moot.

We now consider his claims for monetary damages based upon a violation of his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights when he was detained beyond his maximum sentence.

Motion to Dismiss Standard

A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim "tests the legal sufficiency of plaintiff's claim." Petruska v. Gannon University, 462 F.3d 294, 302 (3d Cir. 2006). Additionally, where a bar to relief is apparent from the face of the complaint, dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) may be granted. Leveto v. Lapina, 258 F.3d 156, 161 (3d Cir. 2001) (citing ALA, Inc. v. CCAIR, Inc., 29 F.3d 855, 859 (3d Cir. 1994)). The plaintiff's pro se pleadings must be considered deferentially, affording him the benefit of the doubt where one exists. Dluhos v. Strasberg, 321 F.3d 365, 369 (3d Cir. 2003) (citing Higgins v. Beyer, 293 F.3d 683, 688 (3d Cir. 2002)). With these standards in mind, we shall accept as true the facts as they appear in the plaintiff's complaint and draw all possible inferences from these facts in his favor.

Discussion

PBPP and ...


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