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Leonard C. Maines, James R. Malles v. Governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell

December 9, 2011

LEONARD C. MAINES, JAMES R. MALLES,
AND SCOTT J. RECTOR, PLAINTIFFS
v.
GOVERNOR OF PENNSYLVANIA ED RENDELL, OR HIS SUCCESSOR, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

OPINION AND ORDER*fn1

United States Magistrate Judge Susan Paradise Baxter

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Relevant Procedural and Factual History

On March 25, 2011, Plaintiffs Leonard C. Maines, James R. Malles, and Scott J. Rector, filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ' 1983. Named as Defendants are: Governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell, or his successor (AGovernor@); Attorney General Thomas Corbett, or his successor (AAttorney General@); Department of Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard, or his successor (ADOC Secretary@); General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (AGeneral Assembly@); and Michael W. Curley, Warden at the Muskegon Correctional Facility in Muskegon, Michigan (ACurley@). For convenience, Defendants Governor, Attorney General, and DOC Secretary will be referred to collectively as ACommonwealth Defendants.@ Plaintiffs claim that their transfer from a state correctional facility in Pennsylvania to a state correctional facility in Michigan violated their Arights to Due Process, Equal Protection, Access of the Courts, Cruel and Unusual Punishment, and crimes under the state and federal laws.@ (ECF No. 18, Complaint, at Section V). In particular, Plaintiffs challenge their transfer from SCI-Albion to the Muskegon Correctional Facility in Muskegon, Michigan (AMuskegon@) on February 17, 2010, and their subsequent confinement at Muskegon from February 17, 2010 to May 25, 2011, when they were returned to SCI-Albion. The transfer was effectuated pursuant to the Interstate Corrections Compact, 61 Pa.C.S. ' 7101, et seq., which was enacted to allow the transfer of inmates from a Pennsylvania state correctional facility to a correctional facility in another state, on a temporary basis, to help alleviate overcrowding in the Pennsylvania facility. As relief for their claims, Plaintiffs Arequest release from their unlawful and unconstitutional imprisonment in the State of Michigan and paid from the time they were illegally detained in Michigan until the day they are released from their unlawful imprisonment.@ (Id. at Section VI).*fn2

On August 2, 2011, Defendants Governor, Attorney General, and DOC Secretary filed a motion to dismiss complaint [ECF No. 29], asserting that Plaintiffs have failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. On the same date, Defendant General Assembly filed its own motion to dismiss [ECF No. 31], arguing that Plaintiffs= claims against it are barred by legislative immunity, Eleventh Amendment immunity, and/or sovereign immunity, and fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted in any event. On August 24, 2011, Defendant Curley filed his own motion to dismiss complaint [ECF No. 35], joining and incorporating by reference the Commonwealth Defendants= motion to dismiss. On September 16, 2011, Plaintiffs filed an Aanswer@ to Defendants= motions to dismiss. [ECF No. 41]. This matter is now ripe for consideration.

B. Standards of Review

1. Motion to Dismiss

A motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) must be viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and all the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint must be accepted as true. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007). A complaint must be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12 (b)(6) if it does not allege Aenough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.@ Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)(rejecting the traditional 12 (b)(6) standard set forth in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957)). See also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, ___ U.S. ___, ___, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (May 18, 2009) (specifically applying Twombly analysis beyond the context of the Sherman Act).

The Court need not accept inferences drawn by 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). Nor must the court accept legal conclusions set forth as factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). AFactual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.@ Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Although the United States Supreme Court does Anot require heightened fact pleading of specifics, [the Court does require] enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.@ Id. at 570.

In other words, at the motion to dismiss stage, a plaintiff is Arequired to make a >showing= rather than a blanket assertion of an entitlement to relief.@ Smith v. Sullivan, 2008 WL 482469, at *1 (D.Del. February 19, 2008) quoting Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008). AThis >does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage,= but instead simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of= the necessary element.@ Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234, quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.

The Third Circuit subsequently expounded on the Twombly/Iqbal/Phillips line of cases, as follows:

To prevent dismissal, all civil complaints must now set out Asufficient factual matter@ to show that the claim is facially plausible. This then Aallows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct.@ [A]fter Iqbal, when presented with a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, district courts should conduct a two-part analysis. First, the factual and legal elements of a claim should be separated. The district court must accept all of the complaint=s well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions. Second, a district court must then determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a Aplausible claim for relief.@ In other words, a complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff=s entitlement to relief. A complaint has to Ashow@ such an entitlement with its facts. As the Supreme Court instructed in Iqbal, A[w]here 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.=@ This Aplausibility@ requirement will be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.

Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009)(emphasis added)(citations omitted).

2. Pro Se Pleadings

Pro se pleadings, Ahowever inartfully pleaded,@ must be held to Aless stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers@ Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). If the court can reasonably read pleadings to state a valid claim on which the litigant could prevail, it should do so despite failure to cite proper legal authority, confusion of legal theories, poor syntaX and sentence construction, or litigant=s unfamiliarity with pleading requirements. See Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364 (1982); United States ex rel. Montgomery v. Brierley, 414 F.2d 552, 555 (3d Cir. 1969)(Apetition prepared by a prisoner... may be inartfully drawn and should be read >with a measure of tolerance=@); Freeman v. Department of Corrections, 949 F.2d 360 (10th Cir. 1991). Under our liberal pleading rules, a district court should construe all allegations in a complaint in favor of the complainant. Gibbs v. Roman, 116 F.3d 83 (3d Cir.1997)(overruled on other grounds). See, e.g., Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, ...


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