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Smith v. Thomas

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 16, 2014

JEREMY SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
THOMAS, et al., Defendants. JEREMY SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
THOMAS, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

ROBERT D. MARIANI, District Judge.

On April 21, 2014, Plaintiff, Jeremy Smith, an inmate currently confined at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania ("USP-Lewisburg") filed two pro se complaints pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (Civil Action Nos. 3:14-cv-761 and 3:14-cv-762, Docs. 1). He filed motions for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and prisoner authorizations in both matters. ( Id. at Docs. 3, 4). Plaintiff alleges constitutional violations for events that occurred at USP-Lewisburg. The complaints "request an order declaring that the defendants have acted in violation of the United States Constitution, " they seek compensatory damages, and include an injunction claim "compelling defendants to provide or stop medical care" and "to provide or stop cruel and unusual punishments" at USP-Lewisburg. (Civil Action Nos. 3:14-cv-761 and 3:14-cv-762, Docs. 1).

Pursuant to the screening requirements of the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), this Court reviewed the complaints. See Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (April 26, 1996); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a) After review, the above-captioned cases will be consolidated and Plaintiff will be directed to file one amended complaint.

Standard of Review - Screening

The PLRA authorizes a district court to dismiss an action brought by a prisoner under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or one that seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e); Kennedy v. S.C.I. Rockview Emples., 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123545, *4 (M.D. Pa. 2010) (Caputo, J.). Moreover, § 1915A requires the court to screen any complaint brought by a prisoner who seeks relief from a government employee to determine whether, inter alia, the complaint fails to present a viable cause of action. This initial screening is to be done as soon as practicable and need not await service of process. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).

The grounds for dismissal under § 1915A are similar to 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." 28 U.S.C. § 1915A; FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6)). The court must accept as true all allegations in the complaint and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the plaintiff; however, the court "need not credit a complaint's bald assertions or legal conclusions." Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997); Jordan v. Fox Rothschild, O'Brien & Frankel, Inc., 20 F.3d 1250, 1261 (3d Cir. 1994). The factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level and, a court need not assume that a plaintiff can prove facts not alleged. Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal. v. California State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) ("Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice."); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (a court need not "accept legal conclusions set forth as factual allegations"); Tindell v. Beard, 351 Fed.Appx. 591, 593-94 (3d Cir. 2009). Additionally, a civil rights complaint must comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a) (requiring a "short and plain" statement of a cause of action). This Court also recognizes that pro se complaints are to be liberally construed. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Riley v. Jeffes, 777 F.2d 143, 147-48 (3d Cir. 1985).

Discussion

A. Consolidation

Civil Action Number 14-761 names thirty (30) Defendants, as follows: Warden Thomas, Doctor A. Edinger, Physician Assistant Francis Fasciana, Physician Assistant Noel Trusal, John Doe Physician Assistant on "Z" Block, EMPT Potter, EMPT B. Walls, EMPT John Doe, R.N. Robinson, R.N. S. Deer, R.N. John Doe, Lieutenant Johnson, Lieutenant C. Johnson, Lieutenant Cardonas, Lieutenant C. Scampone, Lieutenant B. Shirk, Lieutenant Brand, Lieutenant N. Carpet, Lieutenant J. Sherman, Lieutenant Scott, four (4) Lieutenants John Doe, Officer S. Eck, Officer J. Klose, Officer T. Stackhouse, Officer Fisher, Correctional Officer John Doe, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. (Civil Action No. 3:14-cv-761, Doc. 1). The caption of this complaint only names Warden Thomas, Dr. Edinger, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, individually and in their official capacities. ( Id. ). Paragraph three (3) of the complaint names twenty-seven (27) additional Defendants, as listed above. ( Id. at ¶ 3).

Civil Action Number 14-762 names thirty-two (32) Defendants. (Civil Action No. 3:14-cv-762, Doc. 1). The Defendants named are as follows: Warden J.E. Thomas, Dr. A. Edinger, Physician Assistant Francis Fasciana, Physician Assistant Noel Trusal, John Doe Physician Assistant on "Z" Block, EMPT Potter, EMPT B. Walls, EMPT John Doe, R.N. Robinson, R.N. S. Deer, R.N. John Doe, Lieutenant Johnson, Lieutenant C. Johnson, Lieutenant Cardonas, Lieutenant C. Scampone, Lieutenant B. Shirk, Lieutenant Sailor, Lieutenant Brand, Lieutenant N. Carpet, Lieutenant J. Sherman, Lieutenant Scott, four (4) Lieutenants John Doe, Officer S. Eck, Officer J. Klose, Officer T. Stackhouse, Officer Fisher, Correctional Officer John Doe, Officer D. Nogle and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. ( Id. ). The caption of the complaint in Civil Action Number 14-762 only names Warden Thomas, Lieutenant Johnson, Dr. Edinger, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, individually and in their official capacities. (Civil Action No. 3:14-cv-762, Doc. 1). Paragraph three (3) of the complaint renames Warden Thomas, Lieutenant Johnson and Dr. Edinger, as well as the twenty-eight (28) additional Defendants listed above. ( Id. at ¶ 3). Paragraph eleven (11) of the complaint names one additional Defendant, Officer D. Nogle. ( Id. at ¶ 11).

Plaintiff's complaints involve common questions of law and fact and, therefore, should be consolidated pursuant to Rule 42 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides:

If actions before the court involve a common question of law or fact, the court may:
(1) join for hearing or trial any or all matters at issue in the actions;
(2) consolidate the actions; or
(3) issue any other orders to avoid unnecessary cost or delay.

FED. R. CIV. P. 42(a). In determining whether to consolidate, the court must balance the savings of time and effort gained through consolidation against the prejudice, inconvenience, or expense that it might cause. See Bernardi v. City of Scranton, 101 F.R.D. 411, 413 (M.D. Pa. 1983).

Review of the complaints filed in actions 3:14-cv-761 and 3:14-cv-762, reveals that they involve common questions of law and raise almost the exact same constitutional claims against Defendants. The claims raised in Action Number 14-761 are based on the First and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution. Plaintiff sets forth allegations of retaliation, cruel and unusual punishment, and deliberate indifference. (Civil Action No. 3:14-cv-761, Doc. 1, ¶¶ 5, 6, 8, 10-12). The claims raised in 3:14-cv-762 also concern the First and Eighth Amendments to ...


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