United States District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania
David S. Cercone District Judge
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
LISA PUPO LENIHAN CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
For the following reasons, it is respectfully recommended that Plaintiff’s Complaint be dismissed with prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).
Preston Lee (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner currently incarcerated at SCI-Greene. He commenced this action by motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, which was received by the Court on December 10, 2013. (ECF No. 1.) The motion was denied as insufficient (ECF No. 2) but Plaintiff later filed another motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis that was granted on January 24, 2014 (ECF Nos. 3-5.) Plaintiff’s Complaint was filed that same day. (ECF No. 6.)
A. Plaintiff’s Allegations
In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants retaliated against him in connection with an incident that occurred at SCI-Greene on November 4, 2013. Specifically, he alleges that on this day he was given a pass to go to security where he was questioned by Defendants Officer J.C. Smith and Lt. Schrader about a fight that he allegedly had with another inmate by the name of Larry “Black” Jones in the yard on November 2, 2013. (ECF No. 6 at ¶¶ 1-2.) Plaintiff informed Smith and Schrader that he had not been in a fight with Black but there was another inmate by the name of Percy Lee who he may have been mistaken for given that they have the same last name. Id. at ¶ 3. Smith then pointed to Plaintiff’s missing teeth and asked, “When did that happen?” Id. Plaintiff told them that it has occurred last year. Id.
At this point, Defendant Schrader berated Plaintiff about a grievance and lawsuit he had filed that had the whole medical department in an “up-roar.” Id. at ¶ 4. Schrader said that he was going to “lock [Plaintiff’s] ass up” and see if he could arrange for Plaintiff to spend some time on administrative custody status after he finished his disciplinary custody time. Id. at ¶ 5. Defendant Smith asked what they were going to do about inmate Black and Defendant Schrader stated that they were going to lock him up too because they already knew that he was involved in the fight with inmate Lee and it didn’t matter which Lee it was. Id. at ¶ 6. He also stated that they could just rely on the fact that Plaintiff and inmate Black had fought in the yard last year and that Black “is the reason for the bullshit [Plaintiff] is crying about anyway.” Id. at ¶ 7.
Plaintiff was then taken to the Restricted Housing Unit (“RHU”) and issued a misconduct report for fighting. Id. at ¶ 8. The misconduct report stated that Plaintiff had admitted to fighting inmate Black, but the misconduct was dismissed following Plaintiff’s hearing. Id.
This Court is required to review Plaintiff’s Complaint in accordance with the amendments promulgated in the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996). Pertinent to the case at bar is the authority granted to federal courts for sua sponte screening and dismissal of prisoner claims. Specifically, Congress significantly amended Title 28 of the United States Code, section 1915, which establishes the criteria for allowing an action to proceed in forma pauperis, i.e., without the prepayment of costs. Section 1915(e) (as amended) requires the federal courts to review complaints filed by persons who are proceeding in forma pauperis and to dismiss, at any time, and notwithstanding any portion of the filing fee that may have been paid, any action that is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
A plaintiff fails to allege a section 1983 claim if the court is satisfied “that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegation.” Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984); Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957). A plaintiff must allege specific facts supporting his claims to withstand dismissal under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) for failure to state a claim. Brock v. St. Joseph’s Hosp., 104 F.3d 358 (4th Cir. 1996); Whitehead v. Becton, 1996 WL 761937 (D.C. Cir. 1996).
A court must employ less stringent standards when considering pro se pleadings than when judging the work product of an attorney. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). When presented with a pro se complaint, the court should construe the complaint liberally and draw fair inferences from what is not alleged as well as from what is alleged. Dluhos v. Strasberg, 321 F.3d 365, 369 (3d Cir. 2003). In a section 1983 action, the court must “apply the applicable law, irrespective of whether the pro se litigant has mentioned it by name.” Higgins v. Beyer, 293 F.3d 683, 688 (3d Cir. 2002) (quoting Holley v. Dep’t of Veteran Affairs, 165 F.3d 244, 247-48 (3d Cir. 1999)). See also Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1996) (“Since this is a § 1983 action, the [pro se] plaintiffs are entitled to relief if their complaint sufficiently alleges deprivation of any right secured by the Constitution.”) (quoting Higgins, 293 F.3d at 688). Notwithstanding this ...