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Simpson v. Chester County Prison

August 19, 2010


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


Pro se Plaintiff Chalmers Simpson brings this action in forma pauperis against numerous defendants, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Currently before the Court is Petitioner's Motion to Amend the Complaint. We have conducted the screening required by 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A, and for the following reasons the Motion is denied and the claims asserted in the Amended Complaint are dismissed with prejudice.


Plaintiff is presently incarcerated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania at the State Correctional Institute at Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. Plaintiff's claims pertain to his imprisonment in the Chester County Prison between December 2008 and October 2009. On March 12, 2010, we issued an Order granting Plaintiff's application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Our Order also dismissed the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), with leave to file an amended complaint within 30 days. Our March 12, 2010 Memorandum noted that Plaintiff's Complaint and additional pleadings were rambling and unclear, depriving Defendants of fair notice and preventing them from responding to his claims. As a consequence, we instructed Plaintiff that, if he filed an amended complaint, he must comply with the following requirements:

[H]e must file an amended complaint which contains all of his claims, and in which he describes as legibly, clearly and briefly as possible:

(1) the specific events or conditions which violated his constitutional rights; (2) the name of each person who violated his constitutional rights; (3) the dates on which his constitutional rights were violated by each defendant; (4) the harm he suffered, if any, from each violation; and (5) the specific relief he is requesting. Plaintiff is reminded of the requirement that he plead specific fact paragraphs in his amended complaint, and that the caption of his complaint must contain the names of all of his defendants. (Mar. 12, 2010 Mem. at 1-2.) On March 29, 2010, Plaintiff filed the present Motion to Amend the Complaint, attaching four separate new complaints under the caption of the instant suit.*fn1 The Amended Complaint asserts claims arising from a motor vehicle accident, the medical treatment Plaintiff received in connection with that accident, the theft of funds from Plaintiff's inmate account, and medical treatment Plaintiff received for a leg injury. Plaintiff seeks relief from the Chester County Prison, Prison Director Jack Healy, Prison Counselor Karen, Prison Counselor Shelton, Prison Inmate Robert Blake, Prime Care Medical, Inc.*fn2, the Chester County Sheriff's Department, the insurance company for the Chester County Sheriff's Department, Sheriff's Department Manager Carolyn Welsh, one Jane Doe and one John Doe employee of the Sheriff's Department, three nurses employed at the Chester County Prison, and two John Doe employees of the Chester County Prison.


Plaintiff is a prisoner of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and seeks redress from governmental entities and officers and employees of governmental entities. We are thus required to review his Amended Complaint, "before docketing, if feasible . . . ." See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).

"On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint -- (1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). Several of the Defendants listed in the Amended Complaint are not alleged to be officers or employees of any governmental entity. To the extent that we are not required to screen claims asserted against private individuals or entities pursuant to § 1915A, we are required to perform the same review of claims against non-governmental entities, officials and employees by 28 U.S.C. § 1915, because Plaintiff filed this action in forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) ("Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . (B) the action or appeal -- (i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief."). A claim is frivolous if it is "based on an indisputably meritless legal theory" or its "factual contentions are clearly baseless." Roman v. Jeffes, 904 F.2d 192, 194 (3d Cir. 1990) (citing Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989)). We review the sufficiency of the pleadings under § 1915(e)(2)(B) and § 1915A using the same standard applicable to a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Walker v. Hensley, Civ. A. No. 08-685, 2009 WL 5064357, at *4 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 23, 2009) ("The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to Section 1915(e)(2)(B) and Section 1915A is identical to the legal standard used when ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion." (citing Allah v. Seiverling, 229 F.3d 220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000), and Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236, 240 (3d Cir. 1999))).

When considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), we look primarily at the facts alleged in the complaint and its attachments. Jordan v. Fox, Rothschild, O'Brien & Frankel, 20 F.3d 1250, 1261 (3d Cir. 1994). We take the factual allegations of the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008) (citing Pinker v. Roche Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002)). Legal conclusions, however, receive no deference, and the court is "not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986) (cited with approval in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

A plaintiff's pleading obligation is to set forth "a short and plain statement of the claim," Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), which gives 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)). The "complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "The plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). In the end, we will dismiss a complaint if the factual allegations in the complaint are not sufficient "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citing 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216, at 235-36 (3d ed. 2004)).


Plaintiff has brought the claims asserted in the Amended Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the ...

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