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Premous Clinton v. Camp Hill Prison

February 1, 2012

PREMOUS CLINTON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CAMP HILL PRISON, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



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

( Judge Jones)

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

I. Statement of Facts and of The Case

A. Procedural History

This is a pro se civil rights case that was first brought by a state prisoner, Premous Clinton, through the filing of a civil rights complaint on November 28, 2011. (Doc. 1.) After some delays, McMillian filed a proper motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis on January 3, 2012. (Doc.5.) Accordingly, this matter is now ripe for initial review by this court.

In its present form, Clinton's complaint names twelve individual and institutional defendants. (Id.) The institutional defendants include the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the Camp Hill Prison. (Id.) The individual defendants consist of nine officials at the State Correctional Institution, Camp Hill, and the warden of the York County Prison, Mary Sabol.(Id.)

After listing this array of individual and institutional defendants, Clinton's complaint sets forth a curious array of factual recitals. For example, Clinton identifies these ten individual defendants, but then never makes any allegation of personal involvement in any wrongdoing by any of these individuals. (Id.) Instead, in this pleading Clinton recites that he was a state prisoner at Camp Hill, who is currently being detained in the York County Prison. (Id.) The balance of Clinton's complaint consists of a comparison of the inmate amenities offered at the two prisons, a comparison which illustrates that, in Clinton's view, York County Prison is a less commodious institution. (Id.)

Many of the matters which Clinton chooses to highlight in his complaint border on the frivolous. For example, Clinton protests limitations on "contact visits" at the York County Prison, complains that commissary costs are "sky high" at this institution, alleges that "I do not get TV with cable in my cell here", states that "phone calls is [sic] very expensive" and contends that "I have to pay for a haircut here". (Id.) Other allegations made by Clinton concern matters involving access to religious services and materials, issues of potentially greater gravity.(Id.) However, these allegations are simply made through formulaic recitals by Clinton without any supporting facts or allegations of personal involvement by any of the named defendants.(Id.) Indeed, the failure of Clinton to specifically identify the actions taken by particular defendants in his complaint is hardly surprising since Clinton's complaint contains an odd juxtaposition of claims and parties. The gist of Clinton's complaint relates to his dissatisfaction with amenities in the York County Prison. (Id.) Curiously, though, eleven of the twelve defendants named in the complaint are linked to the Camp Hill Prison, an institution whose cable TV offerings, contact visitation rules, and haircut policies Clinton describes in favorable terms. (Id.) Furthermore, the only defendant with ties to the York County Prison, Mary Sabol, is not alleged by Clinton to have been personally involved in any of the matters set forth in the complaint.

Along with this complaint, the plaintiff filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis on January 3, 2012. (Doc. 5.) For the reasons set forth below, we will GRANT this motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 5), but recommend that the Court dismiss the complaint for failure to presently state a claim upon which relief can be granted, without prejudice to allowing the plaintiff to attempt to correct the deficiencies noted in this report and recommendation by filing an amended complaint.

II. Discussion

A. Screening of Pro Se In forma Pauperis Complaints--Standard of Review

This Court has a statutory obligation to conduct a preliminary review of pro se complaints brought by plaintiffs given leave to proceed in forma pauperis in cases which seek redress against government officials. Specifically, we are obliged to review the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A which provides, in pertinent part:

(a) Screening. - The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.

(b) Grounds for dismissal. - On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint-(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or

(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

Under Section 1915A, the Court must assess whether a pro se complaint "fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." This statutory text mirrors the language of Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides that a complaint should be dismissed for "failure ...


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