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McBride v. Lebanon County Commissioners

United States District Court, Third Circuit

October 9, 2013

AMY McBRIDE, Plaintiff,
v.
LEBANON COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, et al., Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

MARTIN C. CARLSON, Magistrate Judge.

I. Statement of Facts and of The Case

This is a pro se civil rights case that was first brought by a county prisoner through the filing of a complaint on September 9, 2013. (Doc. 1.) McBride's initial pro se complaint was a spare, terse 3-page document which listed various county officials in York and Lebanon County as defendants, and then demanded injunctive relief in the form of an order directing that these prison officials provide law libraries that are equivalent to those provided to federal prisoners. While making these demands, McBride's complaint was otherwise completely devoid of any factual averments. (Doc.1) Thus, McBride demanded extraordinary injunctive relief, but described no facts giving rise to a cause of action. (Id.) Because this document was unadorned by any accompanying facts, we could not identify or ascertain what McBride may have been trying to allege in this pleading, and, therefore, recommended that the plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis be granted but that this complaint be dismissed without prejudice to the plaintiff endeavoring to correct the defects cited in this Report and Recommendation, provided that the plaintiff acted within 20 days of any dismissal order. (Doc. 7)

While this recommendation was pending before the district court, McBride filed a document which has been construed as an amended complaint. (Doc. 8) This document provided much needed essential factual detail to McBride's complaints regarding access to legal materials at the Lebanon County Prison, addressing one of the concerns identified in our initial Report and Recommendation. However, the amended complaint, which only seeks injunctive relief, reveals that McBride is no longer housed in the York County Prison, and has not been held in that facility since May of 2012. (Doc. 8, ¶8)

In light of the filing of this amended complaint, upon a supplemental screening review of the pleading, it is recommended that the complaint be served upon the Lebanon County defendants, but dismissed as moot with respect to the York County defendants since it is undisputed that McBride seeks injunctive relief but is no longer housed in that prison.

II. Discussion

A. Screening of Pro Se In forma Pauperis Complaints-Standard of Review

This Court has an on-going statutory obligation to conduct a preliminary review of pro se complaints brought by plaintiffs given leave to proceed in forma pauperis in cases which seek redress against government officials. Specifically, we are obliged to review the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A which provides, in pertinent part:

(a) Screening. - The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for dismissal. - On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint-
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

Under Section 1915A, the court must assess whether a pro se complaint "fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." This statutory text mirrors the language of Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides that a complaint should be dismissed for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

With respect to this benchmark standard for legal sufficiency of a complaint, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has aptly noted the evolving standards governing ...


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