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Hankins v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

January 12, 2014

ROBERT HANKINS, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, ET AL., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

RICHARD P. CONABOY, District Judge.

Background

Robert Hankins, an inmate presently confined at the State Correctional Institution, Dallas, Pennsylvania (SCI-Dallas), initiated this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. Service of the complaint was previously ordered.

Named as Defendants are the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (Parole Board); Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane and two Parole Board employees, Parole Supervisor Burke and Parole Agent McGinnis (hereinafter the Commonwealth Defendants).

Hankins is also proceeding against the following officials at his former place of incarceration, the Rockview State Correctional Institution, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania (SCI-Rockview): Superintendent Marirosa Lamas; Counselor Melissa Reed; Deputy Superintendent Jeffrey Horton; ex-Deputy Superintendent Robert Marsh; Tim Miller; Superintendent Assistant Jeffrey Rackovan and John/Jane Doe Maintenance Department employees (hereinafter the Corrections Defendants).

Plaintiff states that while on a hunger strike in April, 2004 at the State Correctional Institution, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania (SCI-Camp Hill) he was visited by members of the Parole Board. Despite allegedly knowing that Hankins was unfit, those unidentified Parole Board members nonetheless conducted a review regarding Petitioner' parole eligibility.

The Complaint next contends that Plaintiff was told in May 2011 that he was to be seen by the Parole Board. However, due to his ongoing placement in the SCI-Rockview Restricted Housing Unit (RHU), he was precluded under Parole Board policy from being afforded an interview.[1]

Plaintiff argues that since all Pennsylvania state inmates including those held in the RHU have a right to apply for parole upon the expiration of their minimum sentence, the Parole Board's policy precluding RHU prisoners form parole consideration upon completion of their minimum sentence is unconstitutional.

In an unrelated claim, Plaintiff claims that he was subjected to unconstitutional conditions of confinement at SCI-Rockview because of poor air and water quality. Plaintiff seeks punitive, nominal and compensatory damages as well as injunctive relief.

Presently pending is a motion to dismiss filed by the Commonwealth Defendants. See Doc. 17. The opposed motion is ripe for consideration.

Discussion

Commonwealth defendants' motion to dismiss raises the following argument: (1) there are no allegations that Attorney general Kane was personally involved in any alleged unconstitutional acts; (2) the damage claims against the Parole Board are precluded under the Eleventh Amendment; and (3) Plaintiff's claim of being denied parole consideration cannot proceed because there is no allegation that he actually applied for parole.

Standard of Review

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12 (b) (6) provides for the dismissal of complaints that fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. When ruling on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12 (b) (6), 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." Kanter v. Barella , 489 F.3d 170, 177 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting Evancho v. Fisher , 423 F.3d 347, 350 (3d Cir. 2005)). A plaintiff must present facts that, if true, demonstrate a plausible right to relief. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 (a) (stating that the complaint should include "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief"); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). This requirement "calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of" the necessary elements of the plaintiff's cause of action. Id. at 556. A complaint must contain "more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, ___ U.S. ____ , 129 S.Ct. 1937, ...


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