Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Fleming v. Pennsylvania Parole Board

United States District Court, Third Circuit

September 25, 2013

THOMAS JEFFERSON FLEMING, Plaintiff,
v.
PENNSYLVANIA PAROLE BOARD, et al, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

SUSAN PARADISE BAXTER, Magistrate Judge.[1]

A. Relevant Procedural History

Plaintiff, a state inmate acting pro se , initiated this civil rights action on August 13, 2012. Plaintiff alleges that he has cancer of the spine and that "the State [has] showed deliberate indifference to [his] medical needs." ECF No. 8, ¶ 12. Plaintiff claims that a lack of medical treatment, beginning in April of 2012 upon his return to prison as a technical parole violator, violates his constitutional rights. As Defendants to this action, Plaintiff has named: "Pennsylvania Parole Board;" SCI Albion; Superintendent Harlow; "Medical Dept."; Maxine Overton; and "F-Unit Management Team."

In response to the complaint, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss. ECF No. 13. By Order of this Court, Plaintiff was advised that the motion to dismiss could be converted into a motion for summary judgment and was advised that he should file an opposition in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. ECF No. 16. Plaintiff did not file any brief in opposition to the pending motion, but filed letters which have been reviewed by this Court. ECF Nos. 15, 18, 20-22.

By Memorandum Opinion and Order filed on September 11, 2013, I analyzed Defendants' pending dispositive motion and granted it in its entirety. ECF No. 23. Important to the analysis therein was the fact that Plaintiff had not filed any opposition to the motion.

On September 17, 2013, Plaintiff filed a "Response in Opposition" to the Memorandum Opinion claiming that he did not ever receive Defendants' motion to dismiss or any response order by this Court. In light of Plaintiff's representation in this regard, I directed the Clerk of Courts to reopen this case and to mail to Plaintiff the motion to dismiss and the supporting documents, as well as this Court's response order. I then allowed Plaintiff time in which to file an opposition brief to the motion to dismiss. See Text Order dated September 17, 2013.

Plaintiff filed an opposition brief, which has been reviewed by this Court. This issues and arguments presented in the Defendants' motion to dismiss are ripe for disposition by this Court.

B. Standards of Review

1) Pro Se Litigants

Pro se pleadings, "however inartfully pleaded, " must be held to "less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Haines v. Kerner , 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). If the court can reasonably read pleadings to state a valid claim on which the litigant could prevail, it should do so despite failure to cite proper legal authority, confusion of legal theories, poor syntax and sentence construction, or litigant's unfamiliarity with pleading requirements. See Boag v. MacDougall , 454 U.S. 364 (1982); United States ex rel. Montgomery v. Brierley , 414 F.2d 552, 555 (3d Cir. 1969)("[W]e should recognize that a habeas corpus petition prepared by a prisoner without the aid of counsel may be inartfully drawn and should therefore be read with a measure of tolerance.'"); Smith v. U.S. District Court , 956 F.2d 295 (D.C.Cir. 1992); Freeman v. Department of Corrections , 949 F.2d 360 (10th Cir. 1991). Under our liberal pleading rules, during the initial stages of litigation, a district court should construe all allegations in a complaint in favor of the complainant. Gibbs v. Roman , 116 F.3d 83 (3d Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Abdul-Akbar v. McKelvie , 239 F.3d 307 (3d Cir. 2001). See, e.g., Nami v. Fauver , 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1996)(discussing Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) standard); Markowitz v. Northeast Land Company , 906 F.2d 100, 103 (3d Cir. 1990)(same). Because Plaintiff is a pro se litigant, this Court will consider facts and make inferences where it is appropriate.

2) Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6)

A motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) must be viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and all the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint must be accepted as true. Erickson v. Pardus , 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007). A complaint must be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12 (b)(6) 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. 544, 570 (2007) (rejecting the traditional 12 (b)(6) standard set forth in Conley v. Gibson , 355 U.S. 41 (1957)). See also Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662 (2009) (specifically applying Twombly analysis beyond the context of the Sherman Act).

A Court need not accept inferences drawn by a plaintiff if they are unsupported by the facts as set forth in the complaint. See California Pub. Employee Ret. Sys. v. The Chubb Corp. , 394 F.3d 126, 143 (3d Cir. 2004) citing Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist. , 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). Nor must the Court accept legal conclusions set forth as factual allegations. Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555, citing Papasan v. Allain , 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). See also McTernan v. City of York, Pennsylvania , 577 F.3d 521, 531 (3d Cir. 2009) quoting Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678 ("The tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions."). A plaintiff's factual allegations "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly , 550 U.S. at 556, citing 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216, pp. 235-236 (3d ed. 2004). Although the United States Supreme Court does "not require heightened fact pleading of specifics, [the Court does require] enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570.

In other words, at the motion to dismiss stage, a plaintiff is "required to make a showing' rather than a blanket assertion of an entitlement to relief." Smith v. Sullivan , 2008 WL 482469, at *1 (D. Del.) quoting Phillips v. County of Allegheny , 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008). "This does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage, ' but instead simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.