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Vance v. Klemm

United States District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania

September 23, 2014

RUSSELL LEE X. VANCE, Plaintiff,
v.
REV. ULLI KLEMM, Religion Volunteer and Recreational Services “Program Administrator, ” in his personal and professional capacity, Defendant.

RUSSELL LEE X. VANCE AY-6446, SCI FAYETTE.

Mary Lynch Friedline Office of Attorney General.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Cynthia Reed Eddy United States Magistrate Judge

Presently before the Court is Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss, with brief in support (ECF Nos. 31 and 32) and Plaintiff’s response and brief in opposition (ECF Nos. 34, 35, and 36). For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the Motion to Dismiss with prejudice.[1]

Plaintiff, Russell Lee X. Vance, is a state prisoner currently incarcerated at SCI - Fayette. He commenced this action on July 10, 2013, by the filing of a Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 1) accompanied by a civil rights complaint (ECF No. 1-1). On July 25, 2013, the Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis case was granted and the Complaint was filed. Thereafter, Defendant filed a Motion to Revoke Plaintiff’s IFP Status as Plaintiff had filed three or more civil actions which were dismissed as frivolous, malicious, and/or for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. On January 10, 2014, the Court granted Defendant’s motion, Plaintiff’s IFP status was revoked, and the case was dismissed without prejudice to Plaintiff’s right to reopen by paying the full $350.00 statutory filing fee, plus an administrative filing fee in the amount of $50.00, for a total of $400.00.

On April 29, 2014, Plaintiff paid the full filing fee and, thereafter, the case was reopened.

In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that on February 24, 2011, Defendant Klemm refused to recognize his religion named “The Truth of African N.W. Lost-Sheep of the House of Israel” and refused to serve him “Kosher hot meals.” Plaintiff claims that Defendant Klemm’s decision violated his rights under the First, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as his rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”).

Currently before the Court is Defendant’s motion to dismiss in which Defendant argues that Plaintiff’s claims are time barred.

Standard of Review

1. Pro Se Litigants

Pro se pleadings, “however inartfully pleaded, ” must be held to “less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520–521 (1972). If the court can reasonably read pleadings to state a valid claim on which the litigant could prevail, it should do so despite failure to cite proper legal authority, confusion of legal theories, poor syntax and sentence construction, or the litigant's unfamiliarity with pleading requirements. Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364 (1982); United States ex rel. Montgomery v. Bierley, 141 F.2d 552, 555 (3d Cir.1969) (petition prepared by a prisoner may be inartfully drawn and should be read “with a measure of tolerance”).

In a section 1983 action, the court must liberally construe the pro se litigant's pleadings and “apply the applicable law, irrespective of whether a 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)).[2] 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). Under our liberal pleading rules, during the initial stages of litigation, a district court should construe all allegations in a complaint in favor of the complainant. Gibbs v. Roman, 116 F.3d 83 (3d Cir. 1997). See, e.g., Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir.1996) (discussing Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) standard); Markowitz v. Northeast Land Co., 906 F.2d 100, 103 (3d Cir. 1990) (same). Notwithstanding this liberality, pro se litigants are not relieved of their obligation to allege sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal claim. See, e.g., Taylor v. Books A Million, Inc., 296 F.3d 376, 378 (5th Cir. 2002).

Because Plaintiff is a pro se litigant, this Court may consider facts and make ...


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