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Outen v. Prialeau

United States District Court, Third Circuit

May 3, 2013

ANDREW OUTEN, Plaintiff,
PRIALEAU, et al., Defendants.


ROBERT F. KELLY, Sr., District Judge.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), we review Plaintiff Andrew Outen's claims against Defendants, Gaudenzia employees Darien Prialeau, Larry Barksdale, Annie McCray and Brenda Kennerly. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's claims are dismissed.


Plaintiff Andrew Outen ("Plaintiff"), is, and was at all times, a prisoner in the custody of the Department of Corrections of the State of Pennsylvania. (Compl. § 3.) In November of 2011, Plaintiff was paroled from prison to Gaudenzia D.R.C. ("Gaudenzia"), a drug treatment center located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Id. § 11.) As a condition of his parole, Plaintiff was ordered to participate in a violence prevention program and to receive outpatient drug and mental health treatment. (Id.) Plaintiff admits to regularly smoking marijuana while enrolled in this program. (Compl. §§ 17, 40.) On March 13, 2012, Plaintiff's parole was revoked for using drugs and refusing to participate in drug and alcohol treatment. (Id. § 38; see also Doc. 22.) As a result of these violations of his parole, Plaintiff was returned to prison. (Id. § 38; see also Doc. 22.)

On September 10, 2012, we granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis and Plaintiff filed a pro se Complaint against Defendants, Gaudenzia employees[1] Darien Prialeau ("Prialeau"), Larry Barksdale ("Barksdale"), Annie McCray ("McCray") and Brenda Kennerly ("Kennerly") (collectively "Defendants"), alleging deprivation of his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("§ 1983"). (Id. §§ 4-9.) Specifically, Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated his First, Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act (the "ADA") 42 U.S.C. § 12101. (Id. §§ 15, 46, 47, 52, 53, 65.) Additionally, Plaintiff sets forth tort claims under Pennsylvania state law. (Compl. §§ 59-60.)


Indigent litigants are provided access to the federal courts through the in forma pauperis statute. See Neitzke v. Williams , 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Where a prisoner is proceeding in forma pauperis in a civil action, the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26, 1996), requires a district court to review the complaint. Specifically, the Act requires district courts to identify cognizable claims and to sua sponte dismiss any claim that is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See Pfeiffer v. Hutler, No. 12-1335, 2012 WL 4889242, at *2 (D. N.J. Oct. 12, 2012) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)).


In determining the sufficiency of a pro se complaint, the Court must be mindful to construe it liberally in favor of the plaintiff. Erickson v. Pardus , 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007); Estelle v. Gamble , 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976); Ruff v. Healthcare Adm'r , 441 F.Appx. 843, 845 (3d Cir. 2011). We note that Plaintiff's pro se Complaint is difficult to understand. Interpreting what claims Plaintiff is intending to aver, and the facts surrounding such claims has proven to be difficult. This Opinion is our best attempt at interpreting Plaintiff's claims.

In "liberally construing" this Complaint, we attempt to consider all of Plaintiff's causes of action. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his civil rights (§ 1983), the ADA and Pennsylvania state law. We address each allegation in the following.

A. Civil Rights Claims

The enactment of § 1983 opened the federal courts as a forum for seeking redress for civil rights violations. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. For a plaintiff to garner relief under § 1983, he or she must establish: (1) that the defendant acted under the color of state law, and, (2) that the defendant's action deprived the plaintiff of a right, privilege or immunity secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States. 42 U.S.C. § 1983; see also Natale v. Camden Cty. Correctional Facility , 318 F.3d 575, 581 (3d Cir. 2003); Groman v. Twp. of Manalapan , 47 F.3d 628, 633 (3d Cir. 1995). At this early stage in the litigation, where Defendants have not filed an answer, the Court is unable to decide whether Defendants acted under the color of state law.[2] See Schulgen v. Stetson School, No. 99-4536, 2000 WL 352366, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 3, 2000) (stating that the state actor analysis determination is more appropriately considered in a Motion for Summary Judgment). Thus, in this Opinion, we examine solely whether Plaintiff has sufficiently plead a constitutional violation.

When evaluating a claim brought under § 1983, it is necessary to "identify the exact contours of the underlying right said to have been violated" in order to determine "whether [Plaintiff] has alleged a deprivation of a constitutional right at all." Natale , 318 F.3d at 581 (quoting Cty. of Sacramento v. Lewis , 523 U.S. 833, 841 n. 5 (1998)). Plaintiff alleges that the various ...

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