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Isan Contant v. Mary Sabol

March 18, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: (Judge Caldwell)


I. Introduction

Isan Contant, a detainee of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), formerly housed at the York County Prison (YCP), in York, Pennsylvania,*fn1 filed this civil rights action alleging YCP officials improperly: confiscated a photograph he received in the mail; placed him in administrative custody prior to issuing him a misconduct; and failed to issue a check using funds from his prison account to pay a business debt Plaintiff owed. Named as defendants are the following YCP employees: Warden Mary Sabol; Jennifer Rogers; Valerie Krepps; Counselor Lois; Richard Hodorovic; Officer John Doe; Deputy Warden Doll; and Deputy Warden John Doe. Id.

Presently before the Court is defendants' Motion to Dismiss (doc. 15) based on Contant's failure to exhaust his available administrative remedies and failure to state a claim. For the following reasons, defendants' motion will be granted.

II. Standard of Review

On a motion to dismiss, "[w]e 'accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief.'" Byers v. Intuit, Inc., 600 F.3d 286, 291 (3d Cir. 2010) (quoted case omitted). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege sufficient facts "to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). If a party does not "nudge [his] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible, [the] complaint must be dismissed." Id. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, U.S. , , 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009).

Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by attorneys. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081 (2007); Mitchell v. Horn, 318 F.3d 523, 529 (3d Cir. 2003). Pro se litigants are to be granted leave to file a curative amended complaint "even when a plaintiff does not seek leave to amend," unless such an amendment would be inequitable or futile. Alston v. Parker, 363 F.3d 229, 235 (3d Cir. 2004). However, a complaint that sets forth facts which affirmatively demonstrate that the plaintiff has no right to recover is properly dismissed without leave to amend. Grayson v. Mayview State Hospital, 293 F.3d 103, 106 (3d Cir. 2002).

An individual's status "as an immigration detainee is akin to that of a pretrial detainee." Harvey v. Chertoff, 263 F. App'x 188, 191 (3d Cir. 2008)(per curiam) (nonprecedential). A pretrial detainee is protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Hubbard v. Taylor, 399 F.3d 150, 157-80 (3d Cir. 2005); Fuentes v. Wagner, 206 F.3d 335, 344 (3d Cir. 2000).

III. Background

Plaintiff alleges the following. On December 1, 2009, Contant requested Counselor Lois to withdraw funds from his inmate prison account and forward them to a business entity. Doc. 1 at p. 9.*fn2 Even though he had sufficient funds in his YCP prison account, Counselor Lois refused Contant's request. Counselor Lois denied the request per the order of Warden Sabol. Id.

On December 21, 2009, Counselor Krepps stated that "the prison does not issue checks to other businesses on behalf of inmates." Id. Plaintiff claims these defendants denied him reasonable access to his money, violating his "constitutional rights." Id.

On December 25, 2009, Officer Hodorovic placed Contant in disciplinary segregation, also known as the Behavioral Adjustment Unit (BAU), prior to his receipt of a disciplinary sanction. Id. at p. 6. Contant states that the YCP Inmate Handbook requires that inmates in a "pending investigation" status are to be placed in the Intensive Custody Unit (ICU) rather than the BAU which is for inmates that have received disciplinary sanctions. Id. Contant claims Hodorovic violated both the YCP rules and his due process rights. Id.

On December 30, 2009, Jennifer Rogers chaired a disciplinary hearing involving Contant. Id. Apparently, Contant was charged with assaulting another inmate at 9:40 a.m. on December 25, 2009. Id. Contant testified that he was not awake at 9:40 a.m. that day and did not believe the issuing officer was present at the facility at that time. Id. Jennifer Rogers and other Disciplinary Board members conceded that the issuing officer was not working on December 25, 2009, at approximately 9:40 a.m. as reflected in the disciplinary report. Id. Jennifer Rogers told Contant that he would not "beat this on a technicality." Id. at p. 6. Meaning that while she believed the officer "must have made a mistake on the time," she found the officer's report that he/she "witnessed" Contant assault another inmate was "more credible than inmate's defense." Id. at pp. 7-8. Contant believes Rogers was not an impartial adjudicator and violated his due process rights.

On January 5, 2010, Officer John Doe withheld the delivery of a photograph sent to Contant claiming it was an "explicit photo." Id. at p. 4. Plaintiff was not permitted to see the photo prior to its confiscation and does not believe it to be violative of the YCP's policy against receipt of sexually explicit material. Id. Contant filed this action on January 7, 2010, prior to ...

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