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Dawn Marie Ball v. S. Kerns Barr

December 8, 2011

DAWN MARIE BALL,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
S. KERNS BARR, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



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

Chief Judge Kane

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

I. Statement of Facts and of the Case

A. Introduction

The plaintiff, Dawn Ball, is an inmate housed in the Restricted Housing Unit at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) Muncy, who by her own account suffers from a cascading array of severe mental illnesses, and candidly acknowledges that she is profoundly disturbed, informing the court that:

My mental health is declining. I suffer from OCD so bad I scrub my hands till they bleed, confusion, PTSD, disassociative disorder, I smell, see and hear things not there, severely stressed, phobias, agoraphobia, severe anxiety, lack of interest in things, lack of arousal in thing, racing thoughts, suicidal, cognitive problems and disorders, lack of interest in life, disoriented, dizzyness, paranoid--schizophrenic, constant worry, frightened scared, can't properly care for myself, tics, bipolar, manic depressive, mood swings that are so severe, can't think clearly.... Ball v. Beard, No. 1:09-CV-845, (Doc. 42, pp. 6-7).

While she suffers from paranoia, schizophrenia, and experiences these visual and auditory hallucinations, Ball is also a prodigious federal court litigant, bringing numerous lawsuits based upon her perception of the events that take place around her in prison. Indeed, at present Ball has a total of nineteen lawsuits pending before this court.*fn1

Ball is also a prodigiously unsuccessful litigant, who has had at least three prior lawsuits dismissed either for failure to exhaust her administrative remedies, or as frivolous on the grounds that the lawsuit failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The history of repeated, frivolous and meritless litigation in federal court by this plaintiff began in March of 2008, when Ball filed a complaint in the case f Ball v. SCI Muncy, No. 1:08-CV-391 (M.D. Pa.). On December 10, 2008, the district court dismissed this civil action for failure to exhaust her administrative remedies, Ball v. SCI Muncy, No. 1:08-CV-391 (M.D. Pa.) (Doc. 36), and on July 22, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the dismissal of this action. Ball v. SCI Muncy, No. 1:08-CV-391 (M.D. Pa.) (Doc. 44).

On May 5, 2009, Ball filed a second civil action in the case of Ball v. Hartman, No. 1:09-CV-844 (M.D. Pa.). This action was dismissed by the district court, which found Ball's complaint to be frivolous, Ball v. Hartman, No. 1:09-CV-844 (M.D. Pa.) (Docs 32, 33, and 36,) and Ball's appeal of this dismissal order was summarily denied by the court of appeals pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).*fn2 Ball v. Hartman, No. 1:09-CV-844 (M.D. Pa.) (Doc. 48).

While this action was pending, Ball filed yet another lawsuit in the case of Ball v. Butts, No. 1:11-CV-1068, (M.D.Pa.) on June 3, 2011. Ball v. Butts, No. 1:11-CV-1068 (M.D.Pa.)(Doc. 1). On June 15, 2011, upon a screening review of this complaint, the district court dismissed this action for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted Ball v. Butts, No. 1:11-CV-1068 (M.D.Pa.)(Doc. 8). Ball appealed this dismissal. Ball v. Butts, No. 1:11-CV-1068 (M.D.Pa.)(Doc. 10). On September 21, 2011, the court of appeals entered an opinion and order dismissing Ball's appeal as frivolous pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). That appellate court opinion and order spoke unambiguously regarding the frivolous nature of this particular lawsuit filed by Ball, stating in clear and precise terms that:

Because we too have granted Ball leave to proceed IFP, we must screen this appeal to determine whether it is frivolous. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(I). An appeal is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989).This appeal lacks any such basis. As the District Court adequately explained, immunity extends even to judicial acts that are "done maliciously," and Ball has alleged nothing suggesting that Judge Butts acted in the "clear absence of all jurisdiction." Gallas v. Supreme Court of Pa., 211 F.3d 760, 769 (3d Cir.2000) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). To the extent that Ball's request for injunctive relief might not have been subject to dismissal under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(iii), it was subject to dismissal under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) because such relief is not available against "a judicial officer for an act ... taken in such officer's judicial capacity" under these circumstances. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Finally, we are satisfied that any amendment of Ball's complaint would be futile. See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 111 (3d Cir.2002). Thus, we will dismiss this appeal. Ball v. Butts, No. 11-2862, 2011 WL 4375782, 1 (3d Cir. Sept 21, 2011).

B. Ball's Current Lawsuit

It is against this backdrop that Ball pursues the instant case. Ball's current complaint reflects a recurring theme which runs through the plaintiff's litigation:

Large controversies inspired by small events. Indeed, according to Ball's complaint, and attachments, this case began as a discussion over a piece of cornbread.

Ball's pro se complaint and attachments, (Doc. 1), reveal that this federal civil rights complaint arises out of two disciplinary proceedings conducted at SCI Muncy involving Ball. The first of these disciplinary proceedings involved an incident that began when prison officials served Ball a meal, which included a piece of cornbread that Ball found aesthetically displeasing. Specifically, Ball is alleged to have complained that the top of the cornbread was "not right". (Id.)

This simple culinary complaint then quickly escalated. (Id.) Prison officials asked Ball to return the tray if the cornbread was displeasing. She refused, and the inmate and staff began tugging and pulling at the tray. (Id.) Ultimately, staff surrendered the tray to Ball after Ball allegedly claimed that she should throw the food tray at correctional officers. (Id.) When one correctional officer then ordered Ball to return the tray, it is alleged that she refused stating "Don't touch that tray you skinny limped dick mother fucker." (Id.) As a result of this incident, Ball was cited for refusing to obey staff orders and threatening staff. (Id.)

The second disciplinary proceeding related to alleged misconduct by Ball involving misuse of her prison-issued garb. (Id.) Specifically it was alleged that Ball plugged the toilet in her cell by jamming her prison gown into the plumbing, and that Ball lied to staff about this episode, claiming that her gown had in fact been removed from the cell by staff and not flushed down the toilet by Ball herself.(Id.) On the basis of this alleged misuse of her prison garments, Ball was cited for damaging prison property and making false statements to staff. (Id.)

Ball's pro se complaint and attachments further allege that a disciplinary hearing was scheduled on these two infractions on October 3, 2011.(Id.) Given the allegations that Ball had recently destroyed prison garb, the plaintiff was under a jumpsuit restriction at the time of this hearing, which limited her prison wardrobe.(Id.) On the date of the hearing Ball became embroiled in a new dispute with staff, a dispute over her attire for the hearing that would examine allegations that she had misused prison garb to damage her cell toilet. (Id.) Because Ball was on a jumpsuit restriction, prison officials allegedly offered to take her to the hearing clothed in either a smock or a sheet. (Id.)*fn3

Dissatisfied with these wardrobe choices, Ball alleges that she demanded that she either: (1) be provided a jumpsuit; (2) have her hearing continued; or (3) require the hearing examiner to come to Ball's cell to conduct the hearing. (Id.) Prison staff treated Ball's wardrobe demands as tantamount to a refusal to attend the hearing, and

Dissatisfied with these wardrobe choices, Ball alleges that she demanded that she either: (1) be provided a jumpsuit; (2) have her hearing continued; or (3) require the hearing examiner to come to Ball's cell to conduct the hearing. (Id.) Prison staff treated Ball's wardrobe demands as tantamount to a refusal to attend the hearing, and the hearing was conducted in absentia. At the close of the hearing, citing numerous eyewitness accounts, the hearing examiner found that Ball had committed these disciplinary infractions and sanctioned her with periods of disciplinary custody. (Id.) ...


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