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Henry Thompson v. Cumberland County Prison

April 9, 2012


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


Henry Thompson ("Thompson"), who at the time he commenced this action appeared to be incarcerated at the Adams County Adult Complex in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.*fn1 Listed as Defendants in the caption of the complaint are "Cumberland County Prison (staff)" and "Prime Care (staff)." (Doc. No. 1, Compl.) Although not listed as a Defendant in the caption of the complaint, Thompson does list Lieutenant Wilson, a Cumberland County Prison employee, as a defendant under the "Defendants" section of the complaint. (Id. at 2.) The claims set forth in the complaint concern incidents occurring at the Cumberland County Prison, Thompson's former place of confinement. Thompson requests leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this matter.*fn2 Obligatory preliminary screening reveals that the complaint contains deficiencies which preclude service in its present form.*fn3 Consequently, Thompson will be afforded the opportunity to file an amended pleading in this action.

I. Allegations of the Complaint

The "Statement of Claim" portion of the complaint form filed by Thompson reads as follows, in its entirety:

Prime Care Medical Staff has not properly treated my injuries that was to be examined by doctors and taken to the Carlisle Hospital for sutures, which has left terri (sic) life scars 10"/prison (Cumberland County) 4-3-2011 10 p.m.

Cumberland County Prison Staff - did not investigate the issue properly nor attempt to follow up. They also kept this issue from my family, and went around the necessary medical treatment/ C.C.P. 4-3-2011 10 p.m.

Was attack (sic) in the prison by an inmate the jail was not properly secured or have adequate surveillance. Or the jail was not concerned about my physical well being. (Doc. No. 1 at 2.) In reviewing the above, it is at least clear that Thompson seeks to raise an inadequate medical care claim and a failure to protect claim against unidentified staff members at the Cumberland County Prison and employees of Prime Care, a medical contractor. Also attached to the complaint are several sheets of paper which appear to fill in a few details with respect to Thompson's claims. The first sheet is entitled "Incident Report" and appears to be a copy of the text of an April 3, 2011 incident report typed by Thompson. (Id. at 4.) Also attached are two typewritten letters, one to an unknown recipient and the other to the NAACP, prepared by Thompson discussing his claims. (Id. at 5-6). While these attachments add some information with respect to the claims Thompson seeks to raise, they fail to name the specific individuals who have allegedly violated Thompson's constitutional rights and associate any particular defendant with any alleged unlawful act. As relief, Thompson requests monetary damages.

II. Standard

Plaintiff seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. The Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 obligates the Court to engage in a screening process when a prisoner wishes to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Specifically, § 1915(e)(2) provides:

(2) Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that (A) the allegation of poverty is untrue; or (B) the action or appeal (i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.

Under §1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), a federal court must dismiss a case filed in forma pauperis if the court determines that the complaint "fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted." In reviewing the legal sufficiency of a complaint, the Court must accept the truth of the plaintiff's factual allegations. Morrison v. Madison Dearborn Capital Partners III L.P., 463 F.3d 312, 314 (3d Cir. 2006). The controlling question is whether the complaint "alleges enough 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 "no set of facts" language from Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, ___ U.S. ___, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). "The plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement," but is asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

"While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of a cause of action's elements will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted). To survive a motion to dismiss, the factual allegations in the complaint "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. As such, a plaintiff's pleading obligation is to set forth "a short and plain statement of the claim," Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), which gives the defendant "fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quotations omitted).

Pro se pleadings are to be construed liberally, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and 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 ...

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