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Patrick Okey v. Cpt Daniel Strebig

November 7, 2012

PATRICK OKEY,
PLAINTIFF
v.
CPT DANIEL STREBIG, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



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

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiff Patrick Okey, an inmate currently confined at the State Correctional Institution in Mercer, Pennsylvania, initiated this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 with a pro se complaint on April 3, 2012, as amended June 1, 2012. (Doc. 11.) In the amended complaint, Plaintiff claims that on May 26, 2010, while incarcerated at the York County Prison in York, Pennsylvania, he was assaulted by fellow inmates at the behest of Defendant Captain Strebig. (Id. at 3.) Plaintiff also claims that he has suffered mental anguish while confined in segregation "for years" at York County Prison. (Id.) He claims that he submitted grievances to Defendant Warden Doll regarding both the assault and his continued confinement in segregation, but "nothing was done." (Id.) Plaintiff seeks monetary and declaratory relief.

Defendants Strebig and Doll have filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint, arguing that Plaintiff has failed to state a valid cause of action against either of the named Defendants. (Doc. 14.) For the reasons set forth below, the court will grant the motion to dismiss as to Defendant Doll. The court will deny the motion to dismiss as to Defendant Strebig, and Plaintiff will be afforded the opportunity to reassert a claim as to this Defendant in an amended complaint.

I. Background

A. Facts

In the amended complaint, Plaintiff provides the following factual background with respect to his claims. The court notes that for purposes of disposition of the instant motion to dismiss, the factual allegations asserted in the amended complaint will be accepted as true and viewed in a light most favorable to Plaintiff.

On May 26, 2010, at approximately 9:30 p.m., Plaintiff was physically assaulted by four inmates while housed in the York County Prison. (Doc. 11 at 3.) As a result of the assault, Plaintiff's jaw was broken. (Id.) Plaintiff avers that on "the day of this assault those inmates mentioned Captain Daniel Strebig of whom instruct[ed] them of my criminal charges and caused unnecessary physical injury." (Id.) Related to this assault, Plaintiff avers that he submitted a grievance to Defendant Warden Doll, but "nothing was done." (Id.) However, Defendant Warden Doll told him that he would notify the York County District Attorney's Office of the assault. (Id.)

Plaintiff also claims that he was "placed in confinement in segregation for years and deprived from [general] population." (Id.) He avers that this placement in segregation caused him mental anguish. (Id.) Related to this placement, Plaintiff avers that he submitted a grievance to Defendant Warden Doll, but "nothing was done." (Id.)

B. Procedural History

Plaintiff filed his original complaint on April 3, 2012. (Doc. 1.) In addition, he filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 2.) After conducting a preliminary screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, by order dated April 16, 2012, the court granted the motion to proceed in forma pauperis and directed Plaintiff to file an amended complaint, as the complaint did not comport with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 7.) On May 21, 2012, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint. (Doc. 9.) However, after screening the amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, by order dated May 22, 2012, the court afforded Plaintiff a final opportunity to file another amended complaint, as the first amended complaint again failed to comport with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 10.)

Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint on June 1, 2012. (Doc. 11.) By order dated July 5, 2012, the court directed service of the second amended complaint. (Doc. 12.) On September 7, 2012, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the second amended complaint. (Doc. 14.) Plaintiff filed a brief in opposition on September 21, 2012. (Doc. 16.) Defendants have not filed a reply brief. Thus, the motion to dismiss is ripe for disposition.

II. Standard of Review

Among other requirements, a sound complaint must set forth "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). This statement must "give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). "Fair notice" in Rule 8(a)(2) "depends on the type of case -- some complaints will require at least some factual allegations to make out a showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232 (3d Cir. 2008) (quotation omitted). "[A] situation may arise where, at some point, the factual detail in a complaint is so undeveloped that it does not provide a defendant the type of notice of claim which is contemplated by Rule 8." Id. A plaintiff must provide "more than labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" to show entitlement to relief. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; accord, e.g., Phillips, 515 F.3d at 231-32; Baraka v. McGreevey, 481 F.3d 187, 195 (3d Cir. 2007) (the court is not "compelled to accept unsupported conclusions and unwarranted inferences or a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.") (quotations and citations omitted)); Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 351 (3d Cir. 2005). See also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, -- U.S. --, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (recognizing that Rule 8 pleading standard "does not require 'detailed factual allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation") (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

A defendant may attack a complaint by a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. In deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court is required to accept as true all of the factual allegations in the complaint, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 127 S. Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007), and all reasonable inferences permitted by the factual allegations, Watson v. Abington Twp., 478 F.3d 144, 150 (3d Cir. 2007), viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, Kanter v. Barella, 489 F.3d 170, 177 (3d Cir. 2007). Accord Phillips, 515 F.3d at 233. If the facts alleged are sufficient to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level" such that the plaintiff's claim is "plausible on its face," a complaint will survive a motion to dismiss. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570; Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234; Victaulic Co. v. Tieman, 499 F.3d 227, 234 (3d Cir. 2007); Stevenson v. Carroll, 495 F.3d 62, 66 (3d Cir. 2007). See Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (explaining a claim has "facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged"). Further, when a complaint contains well-pleaded factual allegations, "a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Id. at 1950. However, a court is "not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice." Id. at 1949 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

"To decide a motion to dismiss, courts generally consider only the allegations contained in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint and matters of public record." Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993) (citations omitted); see also Sands v. McCormick, 502 F.3d 263, 268 (3d Cir. 2007). The court may consider "undisputedly authentic document[s] that a defendant attaches as an exhibit to a motion to dismiss if the plaintiff's claims are based on the [attached] document[s]." Pension Benefit, 998 F.2d at 1196. Additionally, "documents whose contents are alleged in the complaint and whose authenticity no party questions, but which are not physically attached to the pleading, may be considered." Pryor v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 288 F.3d 548, 560 (3d Cir. 2002) (citation omitted); see also U.S. Express Lines, Ltd. v Higgins, 281 F.3d 383, 388 (3d Cir. 2002) ("Although a district court may not consider matters extraneous to the pleadings, a document integral to or explicitly relied upon in the complaint may be considered without converting the motion to dismiss into one for summary judgment.") (internal quotation omitted). However, the court may not rely on other parts of the record in making its decision. Jordan v. Fox, Rothschild, O'Brien & Frankel, 20 F.3d 1250, 1261 (3d Cir. 1994).

When presented with a pro se complaint, the court should construe the complaint liberally and draw fair inferences from what is not alleged as well as from what is alleged. Dluhos v. Strasberg, 321 F.3d 365, 369 (3d Cir. 2003); Youse v. Carlucci, 867 F. Supp. 317, 318 (E.D. Pa. 1994). Such a complaint "must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson, 127 S. Ct. at 2200 (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).

Finally, in the Third Circuit, a court must grant leave to amend before dismissing a civil rights complaint that is merely deficient. See, e.g., Fletcher-Harlee Corp. v. Pote Concrete Contractors, Inc., 482 F.3d 247, 252 (3d Cir. 2007); Weston v. Pennsylvania, 251 F.3d 420, 428 (3d Cir. 2001); Shane v. Fauver, 213 F.3d 113, 116 (3d Cir. 2000). "Dismissal without leave to amend is justified only on the ...


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