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Ronald Goodwine, Jr v. Mr. Stephen Keller

March 22, 2011

RONALD GOODWINE, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
MR. STEPHEN KELLER, P.B.P.P. HEARING EXAMINER; BENJAMIN A. MARTINEZ, P.B.P.P. BOARD MEMBER; CHARLES FOX, P.B.P.P. BOARD MEMBER; JEFFREY R. IMBODEN, P.B.P.P. BOARD MEMBER; VICTORIA MADDEN, P.B.P.P. CHIEF COUNSEL; ARTHUR R. THOMAS, P.B.P.P. ASST. COUNSEL; JUSTIN SCHAUP, RECORDS SUPERVISOR, SCI-PITTSBURGH; CAROL SCIRE, GRIEVANCE COORDINATOR, SCI- PITTSBURGH; DAWN CHAMBERLANIN, WARDEN, SCI-PITTSBURGH; CYNTHIA DAUB; AND THOMAS CASSIDY, DEFENDANTS.



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

Re: ECF No. [31]

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Ronald Goodwine, Jr., ("Plaintiff") was, at the time of initiating this suit, incarcerated at the Allegheny County Jail. Plaintiff filed a civil rights action, ultimately naming 11 people as Defendants, all of whom are employed by the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole or the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("DOC"). Plaintiff alleged that the Defendants caused him to serve 328 days beyond the maximum date of his judicially imposed sentence. The Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss.

A. Relevant Procedural and Factual History

Proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis ("IFP"), Plaintiff, filed a civil rights complaint, ECF No. [3]. Thereafter, he filed an amended complaint, which is the operative complaint, wherein he alleged the same basic facts, but added two Defendants, Cynthia Daub and Thomas Cassidy. ECF No. [29]. The entire factual allegations in the operative complaint against each Defendant, concerning their alleged wrongdoing are identical and take the following form:

[Name of individual Defendant] acting without jurisdiction, in concert with other Defendants under color of state law, unlawfully deprived Ronald Goodwine, Jr., of liberty by deliberately causing and/or subjecting him to be detained 335 days beyond his judicially imposed maximum sentence without penological justification.

See ECF No. [29] at 8 to 11, ¶ IV.C.1 to 11. The only remedy Plaintiff seeks is money damages. Id. at 2, ¶ VI. All of the Defendants, represented by the same counsel, filed a motion to dismiss, ECF No. [31], and a brief in support. ECF No. [32]. Plaintiff was directed to file a response, ECF No. [33], and he complied. ECF No. [36]. The motion to dismiss is now ripe. All parties have consented to have the Magistrate Judge exercise plenary jurisdiction. ECF Nos. [34] & [37].*fn1

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)). The Supreme Court further refined its standard for summary dismissal of a complaint that fails to state a claim in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 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 the notice pleading requirements of Fed.R.Civ. P. No. 8(a)(2), "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 § 1363 at 112 (3d ed. 2004) ("A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim for relief under Rule 12(b)(6) goes to the sufficiency of the pleading under Rule 8(a)(2).") (citations omitted).

Under the foregoing 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)). Nevertheless, ...


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