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Bucano v. Sibum

United States District Court, Third Circuit

June 6, 2013

JUDGE JENNIFER SIBUM, et al., Defendants.


RICHARD P. CONABOY, District Judge.

Here we consider Magistrate Judge Thomas M. Blewitt's Report and Recommendation filed on December 27, 2012, in which he recommends dismissal of Plaintiff's consolidated civil action. (Doc. 40.) On January 7, 2013, Plaintiff Bianca Bucano filed an untitled document in which she objects to some aspects of the Report and Recommendation. (Doc. 41.) The Court granted Plaintiff Melissa Bucano two extensions of time to file objections. (Docs. 43, 46.) Plaintiff Melissa Bucano has not filed objections and the time for doing so has passed.

I. Background

The procedural and factual backgrounds of this case are convoluted and unnecessarily complicated. Given the rambling nature of Plaintiffs' filings, Magistrate Judge Blewitt adequately summarizes Plaintiffs' claims and their asserted bases. ( See Doc. 40.) We will not repeat that recitation here particularly in light of the fact that the objections filed find fault with Magistrate Judge Blewitt's conclusions rather than asserted facts. ( See Doc. 41.)

II. Discussion

A. Legal Standards

Because Magistrate Judge Blewitt performed the initial screening required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) which applies the same standards as a motion filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (Doc. 40), and because Plaintiff Bianca Bucano subsequently filed a document which we construe as objections (Doc. 41), we will first set out the appropriate legal standards.

1. Initial Screening

The Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA")[1] requires a district court to review a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner is proceeding in forma pauperis or seeks redress against a governmental employee or entity. The Court is required 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

In determining the sufficiency of a pro se complaint, the court must construe it liberally in favor of the plaintiff. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); United States v. Day, 969 F.2d 39, 42 (3d Cir. 1992). The court must "accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Morse v. Lower Merion School Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). The court need not credit a pro se plaintiff's bald assertions or legal conclusions. Id.

A complaint is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis either in law or fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989) (interpreting the predecessor of § 1915(e)(2), the former § 1915(d)). The standard for evaluating whether a complaint is frivolous is an objective one. Deutsch v. United States, 67 F.3d 1080, 1086-87 (3d Cir. 1995).

A complaint is dismissed for failure to state a claim based upon the same standards used in reviewing a motion to dismiss a complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). We set out this standard in detail below.

2. Motion to Dismiss Standard

When reviewing a complaint pursuant to a defendant's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim filed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court does so in the context of the requirement of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) which requires only "a short and plain statement of the claims showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." The "short and plain statement" must be sufficient to "give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957), abrogated on other grounds by Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 433 (2007). Twombly confirmed that more is required than "labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." 550 U.S. at 555 (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986) (on a motion to dismiss, courts "are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation")). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted).

In McTernan v. City of York, 577 F.3d 521, 530 (3d Cir. 2009), the Third Circuit Court of Appeals set out the standard applicable to a motion to dismiss in light of the United States Supreme Court's decisions in Twombly, 550 U.S. 433 (2007), ...

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