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John Wayne Woods v. Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

July 11, 2012


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


United States Magistrate Judge Susan Paradise Baxter.


A. Relevant Procedural History

On October 4, 2011, Plaintiff John Wayne Woods, a former inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Albion, Pennsylvania (ASCI-Albion@), filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ' 1983 against the following Defendants: Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (ADOC@); Cheryl Gill, Records Supervisor at SCI-Albion (AGill@); Raymond Sobina, former Superintendent at SCI-Albion (ASobina@); and William J. Woods, Corrections Classification Manager at SCI-Albion (AWoods@). Plaintiff subsequently filed an amended complaint on January 31, 2012 [ECF No. 12], in which he withdrew his claims against the DOC, and restated his claims against the remaining individual Defendants.

In his complaint, Plaintiff claims that Defendants wrongfully recalculated his state sentence by removing credit for time he served in pretrial detention, which allegedly caused him to be incarcerated 552 days beyond the maximum sentence date imposed by the state court. As a result, Plaintiff claims that Defendants= actions violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, and deprived him of liberty in violation of his Fourteenth Amendment substantive and procedural due process rights. In addition, Plaintiff asserts pendent state law claims of false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress. As relief for his claims, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

On April 4, 2012, Defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings arguing, inter alia, that Plaintiff=s claims are barred by the doctrine of Heck v. Humphrey, 522 U.S. 477 (1994). [ECF No. 16]. Plaintiff filed a brief in response to Defendants= motion [ECF No. 18], Defendants filed a reply brief [ECF No. 19], and Plaintiff filed a supplemental brief in response to Defendants= motion [ECF No. 20]. The parties have consented to having a United States Magistrate Judge exercise jurisdiction over this matter. [ECF Nos. 8, 9]. This matter is now ripe for consideration.

B. Relevant Factual History

In the fall of 1982, Plaintiff walked away from a halfway house in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he was serving parole on an unrelated criminal matter. On October 5, 1982, Plaintiff was arrested for robbery and escape, and was returned to incarceration on October 6, 1982. Plaintiff was subsequently found guilty of robbery and escape in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas and, on February 21, 1984, the Honorable Robert E. Dauer sentenced Plaintiff to serve 10 to 20 years for robbery and 32 to 7 years for escape, to run consecutively. The sentencing order allegedly provided that the consecutive sentences were to begin as of October 6, 1982, the date Plaintiff was returned to incarceration. As a result, Plaintiff=s maximum sentence date was documented by the DOC as October 6, 2009.

Some time prior to January 29, 2010, Defendant Gill recalculated Plaintiff=s maximum sentence date by removing the credit Plaintiff had received for the time he was incarcerated while awaiting trial from October 6, 1982 through February 21, 1984. As a result, Plaintiff was delivered a Sentence Summary indicating that his maximum sentence date had been changed to April 11, 2011. Plaintiff filed an inmate grievance challenging the recalculation of his sentence on May 13, 2010. On May 28, 2010, Defendant Woods denied Plaintiff=s grievance stating that, because Plaintiff was already serving a state sentence when he was sentenced on his most recent charges, he was not entitled to a credit against the new sentence. Defendant Sobina subsequently denied Plaintiff=s grievance appeal and affirmed the conclusions of Defendants Gill and Woods.

Plaintiff then filed a habeas corpus petition with the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, arguing that his maximum sentence date was wrongfully recalculated, and seeking his immediate release from incarceration because his maximum sentence had expired on October 6, 2009. However, while the habeas corpus proceeding was pending, Plaintiff was released from incarceration on April 11, 2011. As a result, the Commonwealth Court dismissed the habeas petition as moot.

C. Standard of Review

A motion for judgment on the pleadings, or 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, 556 U.S. 662 (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 ...

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