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Anthony Bowen v. Superintendent Louis Folino

March 7, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Bissoon

Re ECF No. 13


Anthony Bowen ("Plaintiff") currently is serving a life sentence in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections for first degree murder.*fn1 He apparently was overcome by hot steam while in the shower at SCI-Greene, fainted, and injured himself. Although Plaintiff does not explicitly invoke the Eighth Amendment, a liberal construction of the complaint reveals that he is claiming an Eighth Amendment violation. Because the complaint reveals, at most, negligence, which fails to state an Eighth Amendment claim, the complaint should be dismissed.

A. Relevant Procedural and Factual History

Proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis ("IFP"), Plaintiff, filed a civil rights complaint, ECF No. 3, naming one defendant, i.e., Louis Folino, the Superintendent of SCI-Greene. The factual allegations contained in Plaintiff‟s complaint read in toto as follows:

1) I‟m filing this civil action against "Superintendent Louis S. Folino," Department of Corrections. On 7-27-09, I was taking a shower on G-D-unit at SCI Green [sic] Prison. During the shower[,] the water became extreamly [sic] hot [and] steamy, I couldn‟t breath [and] blacked out. From me passing out[,] I suffered from neck and back problems, witch [sic] now I have to walk with a walker [and] I[‟]m in constant pain.

2) I will prove in court the D.O.C. staff acted in deliberate indifference, by putting me in a "dangerous situation." I intend to prove this by calling witnesses [and] showing that other inmates put in grievances[,] complaining that they couldn‟t breath [sic] in this shower, befor[e] my accident and staff knowing this shower [was] a "hazzard" [sic] not only to myself by [sic] all inmates.

I‟m seeking $5 million dollas [sic] for monatary [sic], punitive, physical, emotional [and] psychological damages.

3) I want this case tryed [sic] in Fedral [sic] court becaus [sic] my civil rights was [sic] violated by knowingly putting my life in danger.

ECF No. 3 at 1. Defendant Folino filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), ECF No. 13, and a brief in support. ECF No. 14. After being ordered to do so, Plaintiff filed a response. ECF No. 18. Both parties have consented to have the Magistrate Judge exercise plenary jurisdiction.

B. Applicable Legal Principles

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 570 (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 the 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 (9th Cir. 2001), amended by, 275 F.3d 1187 (9th Cir. 2001). Nor must a court accept inferences drawn by the 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)). A court also may not accept legal conclusions set forth as factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)).

In addition, because Plaintiff is a prisoner proceeding IFP, who seeks redress from a governmental entity or an employee of an governmental entity, and who has filed a civil action concerning the conditions of confinement, the screening provisions of 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) and 1915A and 28 U.S.C. § 1997e(c) apply. Pursuant to these screening provisions, a court is obliged to sua sponte dismiss complaints that are frivolous, malicious or that fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Moreover, if there is a ground for dismissal, which was not relied upon by a defendant in a motion to dismiss, or, if a defendant did not even file a motion to dismiss, the court may nonetheless dismiss the case or claim sua sponte, pursuant to the screening ...

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