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Sean D. Woodson v. Richard Colajezzi

October 16, 2012

SEAN D. WOODSON PLAINTIFF,
v.
RICHARD COLAJEZZI, ET AL. , DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rufe, J.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for a Preliminary Injunction and Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff, Sean D. Wilson, a pretrial detainee at the Federal Detention Center ("FDC") in Philadelphia, has filed this civil rights action asserting that Defendants, employees at the FDC, violated his civil rights by examining his legal materials and by failing to supply him with paper, postage, pens, envelopes, and copies. He requests that the Court grant a preliminary injunction restraining Defendants from examining his legal materials and ordering them to provide supplies, and has requested $750,000 in damages. For the reasons that follow, the Court finds that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and will therefore, deny his request for preliminary injunctive relief, grant Defendants' motion to dismiss in part, and dismiss the Complaint.

I. B ACKGROUND

Plaintiff states his claim as follows:

With regards to [Defendants] Ms. Bacon and Mr. Colajezzi and Ms. Longacre, beginning in April, 2011 they informed me that because of my indigent status they would be arbitrarily examining all legal documents I submitted to them to be copied (the only way to make copies in the facility housing me; which is an absolute necessity when proceeding in a criminal action pro se) to decide what was worthy of copying and how many copies it meritted. I vehemently objected to this practice and explained that it interefered with my communications between the courts and my standby-advisory counsel but was told that I had no rights to privacy of my legal documents because I was indigent. This, in conjunction with their refusals to provide me with any paper, pens, or envelopes (those used to create this Complaint were donated by other inmates) and their refusals to provide me with adequate postage (the institution's policy is 3 stamps for an indigent person per week but it is inconsistent and resulted in me being provided with 3-6 stamps per month) and copies of all result in consistent insufficiencies that preclude me from properly defending myself, meeting court-ordered filing deadlines, accessing courts, having my confidential legal documents remain confidential, and, ultimately, having an appeal denied that could have resulted in the reinstitution of my liberty because I was unable to meet the filing deadline. See Ex. A. Attached hereto. These due process, self-representating confidential communications with the outside world, and court access violation persist to this day and are all approved by the aforementioned persons ultimate supervisor, Brian Patton. *fn1 Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis ("IFP"), which the Court granted on April 16, 2012. *fn2 At the same time Plaintiff filed his Motion to Proceed IFP, Plaintiff filed his Complaint and Motion for Preliminary Injunctive Relief. In his Motion, Plaintiff requests that the Court enter an order that Defendants refrain from examining his legal documents in any way because doing so "is a violation of his First Amendment right," and that Defendants "provide him with enough envelopes, postage, pens, 8 1/2 " x 11" paper, and copies so that he may create and prepare the pro se defense of his choosing . . . and access any court of his choosing." *fn3 The Court ordered that Defendants file a response to the Motion for a Preliminary Injunction. Defendants thereafter filed the Motion to Dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim and to Deny Plaintiff's Request for a Preliminary Injunction. *fn4

II. L EGAL S TANDARD

A. Motion for a Preliminary Injunction

"A court must consider four factors when ruling on a motion for preliminary injunction: '(1) whether the movant has shown a reasonable probability of success on the merits; (2) whether the movant will be irreparably injured by denial of the relief; (3) whether granting preliminary relief will result in even greater harm to the nonmoving party; and (4) whether granting preliminary relief will be in the public interest.'" *fn5 A movant's failure to show likelihood of success on the merits "must necessarily result in the denial of a preliminary injunction." *fn6

B. Motion to Dismiss

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), dismissal of a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted is appropriate where a plaintiff's "plain statement" lacks enough substance to show that he is entitled to relief.*fn7 In determining whether a motion to dismiss should be granted, the court must consider only those facts alleged in the complaint, accepting the allegations as true and drawing all logical inferences in favor of the non- moving party. *fn8 Courts are not, however, bound to accept as true legal conclusions couched as factual allegations. *fn9 Something more than a mere possibility of a claim must be alleged; rather plaintiff must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." *fn10 The complaint must set forth "direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements necessary to sustain recovery under some viable legal theory." *fn11 The court has no duty to "conjure up unpleaded facts that might turn a frivolous . . . action into a substantial one." *fn12

III. D ISCUSSION

A federal district court has a statutory obligation to screen complaints filed by pro se prisoners proceeding in forma pauperis in cases, such this one, where the prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity, or office or employee of such entity. *fn13 Title 28, United States Code, § 1915A provides in pertinent part as follows:

(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 ...


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