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James E. Clemens v. Mr. Lockett

December 4, 2012

JAMES E. CLEMENS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MR. LOCKETT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lisa Pupo Lenihan Chief United States Magistrate Judge

ECF No. 33

Chief Magistrate Judge Lenihan

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Pending before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss filed by the Defendants. For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be denied.

James E. Clemens ("Plaintiff") is a Pennsylvania state inmate who was incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Pittsburgh ("SCI-Pittsburgh") during the relevant times the alleged violations in this action occurred. He initiated this action on November 21, 2011, by submitting a prisoner civil rights complaint (ECF No. 3) pursuant to the Civil Rights Act of 1871, later amended and codified as 42 U.S.C. § 1983. With leave of Court, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on April 9, 2012 (ECF No. 27). Plaintiff names as Defendants Jeffrey A. Beard (former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections); Melvin Lockett (former Superintendent of SCI-Pittsburgh); CO Robert Roche; CO Shawn Lacich; CO Kevin Friess; and CO Frank Bayer.*fn1 He alleges numerous constitutional and other violations in connection with his confinement at SCI-Pittsburgh from November, 2009 to February, 2010. Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (ECF No. 33) along with a brief in support thereof (ECF No. 32), and Plaintiff has filed two responses in opposition (ECF Nos. 34, 40). Defendants' motion is now ripe for review.

A.Legal Standards

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint. Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993). A complaint must be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it does not allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 556 (2007) (rejecting the traditional 12(b)(6) standard set forth in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct.1937, 1949 (May 18, 2009) (citing Twombly,550 U.S. at 555-57). "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." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The Supreme Court further explained:

The plausibility standard is not akin to a "probability requirement," but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that are "merely consistent with" a defendant's liability, it "stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of 'entitlement to relief.'"

Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556-57).

In Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203 (3d Cir. Aug. 18, 2009), the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit discussed its decision in Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232-33 (3d Cir. 2008) (construing Twomblyin a civil rights context), and described how the Rule 12(b)(6) standard had changed in light of Twomblyand Iqbal as follows:

After Iqbal, it is clear that conclusory or "bare-bones" allegations will no longer survive a motion to dismiss: "threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949. To prevent dismissal, all civil complaints must now set out "sufficient factual matter" to show that the claim is facially plausible. This then "allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. at 1948. The Supreme Court's ruling in Iqbal emphasizes that a plaintiff must show that the allegations of his or her complaints are plausible. See Id. at 1949-50; see also Twombly, 505 U.S. at 555, & n. 3.

Fowler, 578 F.3d at 210.

Thereafter, in light of Iqbal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside,578 F.3d 203 (3d Cir. 2009),set forth the following two-prong test to be applied by the district courts in deciding motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim:

First, the factual and legal elements of a claim should be separated. The District Court must accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions. [Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949]. Second, a District Court must then determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a "plausible claim for relief." Id. at 1950. In other words, a complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief. A complaint has to "show" such an entitlement with its facts. See Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234-35. As the Supreme Court instructed inIqbal, "[w]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not 'show[n]'-'that the pleader is ...


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