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Reginald Jackson v. Major Thomas Dohman

February 28, 2013

REGINALD JACKSON,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
MAJOR THOMAS DOHMAN, CAPTAIN ETTA WILLIAMS, AND
LIEUTENANT WILLIAM E. RADLE, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM

I.INTRODUCTION

This case arises out of a series of events in February 2010, while pro se plaintiff Reginald Jackson, an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Greene ("SCI-Greene"), was housed at the State Correctional Institution at Graterford ("SCI-Graterford"). In the Complaint and Amended Complaint plaintiff asserts claims against defendants Major Thomas Dohman, Captain Etta Williams, and Lieutenant William Radle under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for harassment and retaliation in violation of his rights under the First, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.

Defendants move to dismiss plaintiff's Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment claims and any claims asserted against defendants in their official capacities. Defendants do not seek to dismiss plaintiff's First Amendment retaliation claim against defendants in their individual capacities.

II.BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background*fn1

While at SCI-Graterford in February 2010, plaintiff claims that Captain Williams gave notice that inmates would not be allowed to carry books and folders through the Main Gate of the prison. (Compl. 9.) Plaintiff filed a formal complaint about this new restriction, claiming that he needed to carry his folder and books through the Main Gate to the prison library for work. (Id. 9-10.) Although the warden allegedly informed plaintiff that the restriction was invalid, Captain Williams continued to enforce it and conducted unnecessary searches of plaintiff. (Id. at 10.)

On February 17, 2010, Captain Williams searched plaintiff at the Main Gate and confiscated his work folder, which contained documents from the library. (Id.) After plaintiff told Captain Williams and Major Dohman that he had filed a formal complaint about these searches with the warden, the two defendants instructed officers to search plaintiff's cell for contraband. (Id. 10-11.) Captain Williams and Major Dohman then told plaintiff they would continually search his cell until they found contraband warranting a misconduct charge that would result in the loss of his job in the library and placement in the Restricted Housing Unit. (Id. 11.) Captain Williams also attempted to have plaintiff fired from his job at the library, but plaintiff's librarian supervisors refused to do so. (Id.)

Plaintiff's cell was searched a second time on February 18, 2010 and a third time on February 23, 2010, at which time a small amount of scented body oil and an ink pad were confiscated. (Id. at 12.) Lieutenant Radle subsequently offered to dismiss the write-up for the contraband found in plaintiff's cell in exchange for information regarding illegal contraband two librarian supervisors were suspected of bringing into the prison. (Id.) Plaintiff stated that "he had no knowledge of any illegal activity by any of the librarians." (Id.) Plaintiff's refusal to give information was based on his fear of "the risk of placing his life in danger with other prisoners and guards who would eventually learn that plaintiff had become an informant for the defendants." (Am. Compl. 1.) Lieutenant Radle threatened plaintiff with transfer to a distant prison if he did not cooperate. (Compl. 12.) Plaintiff was then given a misconduct charge for the scented body oil and placed in the Restricted Housing Unit. (Id. at 13) Plaintiff attempted to file grievances regarding the misconduct charge, which he claimed to be falsified, but the Restricted Housing Unit Officer failed to submit them to the Grievance Coordinator. (Id. 4.) Finally, plaintiff was transferred to the SCI-Greene, far from his family and at which he was forced to "double cell" for the first time in sixteen years. (Id. 14.)

B. Procedural Background

Plaintiff filed the instant suit, claiming harassment and retaliation in violation of the First Amendment in the Complaint. (Id. 16.) Plaintiff subsequently filed an Amended Complaint, which clarified that he additionally asserted retaliation claims in violation of the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. (Am. Compl. 1.) Defendants have now filed the instant amended motion to dismiss. (Doc. No. 21)

III.LEGAL STANDARD

To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a civil plaintiff must allege facts that "'raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'" Victaulic Co. v. Tieman, 499 F.3d 227, 234 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). A complaint must contain "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

To assert a viable retaliation claim, plaintiff must show that (1) the conduct leading to the alleged retaliation was constitutionally protected; (2) plaintiff thereafter suffered some "adverse action" at the hands of prison officials; and (3) the exercise of constitutionally protected conduct was a substantial or motivating ...


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