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Colbert v. Anderson

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

August 25, 2014

CUSTIS COLBERT, Plaintiff,
v.
AGENT EBONY ANDERSON, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

WILLIAM W. CALDWELL, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff, Custis Colbert, proceeding pro se, commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Named as defendants are the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (the Board) and Agent Ebony Anderson. (Doc. 1, Compl.) Colbert filed this action alleging that after his release from prison he was unconstitutionally placed in an in-patient drug treatment program rather than in the mental-health facility required as a condition of his parole. As relief, Colbert seeks "2.5 million dollars" in compensatory damages and "proper mental health treatment." ( Id .)[1]

Presently before the court is the defendants' motion to dismiss (Doc. 12) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Plaintiff also has two motions pending. The first motion (Doc. 15) seeks a subpoena so he may access his parole file, and the second motion (Doc. 18) is a "motion to amend evidence" seeking to add a series of exhibits to his complaint.[2]

For the reasons that follow, the court will grant the defendants' motion to dismiss and deny Plaintiff's motions.

II. Standard of Review

Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of complaints that fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. A court considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) must "accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Eid v. Thompson , 740 F.3d 118, 122 (3d Cir. 2014)(internal quotations omitted). Dismissal is appropriate where the plaintiff has not alleged "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). A complaint satisfies the plausibility standard when there is enough factual content "that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. In resolving a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a court generally should consider only the allegations in the complaint, "exhibits attached to the complaint, [and] matters of public record, as well as undisputedly authentic documents if the complainant's claims are based upon these documents." Mayer v. Belichick , 605 F.3d 223, 230 (3d Cir. 2010)(citing Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc. , 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993)).

Additionally, pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by attorneys and are to be liberally construed. See Erickson v. Pardus , 551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081 (2007); Mala v. Crown Bay Marina, Inc. , 704 F.3d 239, 244-45 (3d Cir. 2013). Pro se litigants are to be granted leave to file a curative amended complaint even when a plaintiff does not seek leave to amend, unless such an amendment would be inequitable or futile See Connelly, 706 F.3d at 217 (quoting Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny , 515 F.3d 224, 236 (3d Cir. 2008)). However, dismissal without leave to amend is justified on the grounds of bad faith, undue delay, prejudice or futility. Alston v. Parker , 363 F.3d 229, 235-36 (3d Cir. 2004). Thus, a complaint that sets forth facts which affirmatively demonstrate that the plaintiff has no right to recover is properly dismissed without leave to amend. Grayson v. Mayview State Hospital , 293 F.3d 103, 106 (3d Cir. 2002).

With this standard in mind, we set forth the background to this litigation, as Plaintiff alleges it.

III. Background

On July 25, 2012, the Board granted Colbert parole to a community treatment center that had a mental-health program. (Doc. 1, Compl.) On September 17, 2012, Colbert was placed in a drug rehabilitation program rather than in a mental-health program. Plaintiff alleges Agent Ebony Anderson "forced" him "into a new contract by using the threat of imprisonment" if he failed to sign. ( Id .) From September 17, 2012, through October 13, 2012, Colbert's medication was increased because of his increased feelings of stress due to "being in a hostile environment." ( Id .)

IV. Discussion

A. The Board is not a "Person" for the Purpose of a § 1983 Action

To state a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must plead two essential elements: (1) the conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under color of state law; and (2) the conduct deprived the plaintiff of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or laws ...


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