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McMillian v. Walsh

United States District Court, Third Circuit

January 10, 2014

CORLIVEETHO MCMILLIAN, Plaintiff,
v.
JEROME WALSH, et al., Defendants.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

MARTIN C. CARLSON, Magistrate Judge.

I. Statement of Facts and of the Case

This is a civil rights action, in the nature of a petition for writ of mandamus, brought by Corliveetho McMillian, a state inmate. In his complaint, McMillian, who is proceeding pro se, names the State Correction Institution Fayette, (SCI Fayette), as the respondent and demands a court order directing the prison to provide him with various materials free of charge. (Doc. 1.) Thus, all of the factual matters described in the complaint are alleged to have taken place wholly within the venue of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. 28 U.S.C. §118(c). At the time he filed this complaint McMillian did not tender the filing fee required by law, and apparently seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis . For the reasons set forth below, this request for leave to proceed in forma pauperis is GRANTED, but it is recommended that this case transferred to the Western District of Pennsylvania, where venue lies, and closed administratively in this district.

II. Discussion

This Court has a statutory obligation to conduct a preliminary review of pro se complaints filed by prisoners who have not paid the mandatory filing fee, and 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). Moreover, parties, like this pro se plaintiff, also have an obligation to ensure that their lawsuits meet the basic fundamentals of proper pleadings. One of these basic rudiments of a valid civil complaint is that the complaint is filed in the proper court, a court which has venue over the actions and parties which are the subject of the litigation.

This case is a federal civil rights action, in the nature of a mandamus petition by a state prisoner. In such cases, where alleged violations of the laws and Constitution of the United States form the basis for the court's jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) defines the proper venue and provides that an action should:

be brought only in (1) a judicial district where any defendant resides, if all defendants reside in the same State, (2) a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property that is the subject of the action is situated, or (3) a judicial district in which any defendant may be found, if there is no district in which the action may otherwise be brought.

28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).

In this case, "a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred" in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, and it appears that all of the defendants either reside in, or may be found in, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Fayette County falls within the venue of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. See 28 U.S.C. § 118(c). Therefore it appears evident from the plaintiff's ...


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