The opinion of the court was delivered by: McLaughlin, J.
This § 1983 lawsuit arises from state court administrative officials' refusal to docket and file the plaintiff's petition for habeas corpus and various other pleadings. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants violated his state and federal constitutional rights of access to the courts, and to due process and equal protection. He seeks an injunction barring future unconstitutional procedures.
The defendants have moved to dismiss the amended complaint for failure to state a claim. The pro se plaintiff did not oppose. The Court will grant the motion, but with leave to amend within thirty days as to the First Amendment claim, the Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claim.
I. Factual & Procedural Background*fn1
The plaintiff, J. Mario Pridgen, is an inmate at SCI- Mahoney. On October 18, 2011, Pridgen forwarded a state habeas corpus petition and several other filings to the Office of the Clerk of Courts of the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas. The petition challenged the jurisdiction of the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas to convict him based upon elements of a charge that was not pursued by the District Attorney.
On November 30, 2011, the state court issued an order denying the plaintiff's "Motion for the Court to Order the Assignment of a Civil Number to the Pending Habeas Corpus." Citing 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 6503(b), the court noted that the Post Conviction Relief Act ("PCRA") provided the appropriate remedy to address the plaintiff's complaints.
On December 17, 2011, the plaintiff again forwarded a state habeas corpus petition and several other filings, this time to the Prothonotary's Office of the Lancaster Court of Common Pleas. This petition challenged the restraint of his liberty as violating due process.
On January 1, 2012, the plaintiff forwarded several more motions to the state court in an attempt to get his habeas corpus petition filed and docketed.
The plaintiff filed his complaint in this case on November 2, 2011. On February 7, 2012, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint against Jeffrey Wright, a state court judge, Randall Wenger, the Prothonotary, and Joshua Parsons, the Clerk of Court. Mr. Pridgen alleges violations of the First Amendment right of access to the courts, and the Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process and equal protection. His amended complaint also states that he brings these claims under both state and federal constitutions. He seeks an injunction barring future unconstitutional conduct.
This Court previously dismissed the claims against defendant Jeffrey Wright as barred by judicial immunity, as well as the claims against defendants Wenger and Parsons in their official capacities as barred by sovereign immunity. ECF No. 13. Remaining defendants Wenger and Parsons now move to dismiss the individual capacity claims against them for failure to state a claim.
Prisoners retain a right of access to the courts under the First Amendment. However, where prisoners assert that defendants' actions have inhibited their opportunity to present a past legal claim, they must show that (1) they suffered an actual injury - that they lost a chance to pursue a non-frivolous or arguable underlying claim; and (2) that they have no other remedy that may be awarded as recompense for the lost claim other than in the present denial of access suit. Monroe v. Beard, 536 F.3d 198, 205 (3d Cir. 2008). At the pleading stage, the complaint must describe the underlying arguable claim well enough to show that it is more than mere hope, and it must describe the lost remedy. Id.
The only allegations in the plaintiff's amended complaint pertaining to the underlying claim in the habeas petition are that it was "meritorious" and that it challenged the jurisdiction of the trial court to convict upon elements of a charge not made. These facts are insufficient for the Court to determine whether the plaintiff lost a chance to pursue a non-frivolous or arguable underlying claim. The Court will therefore dismiss the First Amendment claim. However, to the extent that the plaintiff is able to allege sufficient ...