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Williams v. Commonwealth, Department of Corrections

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

January 13, 2015

ANTHONY E. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

EDWARD G. SMITH, District Judge.

The plaintiff, Anthony E. Williams, who is proceeding prose and in forma pauperis, has brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Pennsylvania law based on allegations that the defendants imprisoned him for 445 days beyond his maximum sentence date. The court dismissed the initial complaint and granted leave to the plaintiff to file an amended complaint. The plaintiff filed an amended complaint in an apparent attempt to cure deficiencies in the original complaint. After filing the amended complaint, the plaintiff filed a request for reconsideration of the court's order dismissing the original complaint and granting him leave to file an amended complaint. As explained below, the court denies the request for reconsideration because the plaintiff has failed to articulate any cognizable ground for reconsideration of the order dismissing the original complaint. In addition, after reviewing the allegations in the amended complaint as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the court must again dismiss the amended complaint because (1) the plaintiff's claims against a number of the defendants are legally frivolous and those defendants are immune from liability, and he has failed to state claims for relief against the remaining defendants. Although the court is once again dismissing the plaintiff's pleading, the court will provide him with leave to file a second amended complaint to allow him to provide sufficient factual support for his claims against the remaining defendants.

I. ALLEGATIONS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The plaintiff filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on May 23, 2014. See W.D. Pa. Original R., Williams v. Commonwealth of Pa. Dep't of Corr., No. 2:14-cv-674, Doc. No. 1.[1] On June 13, 2014, the Honorable Lisa Pupo Lenihan granted the motion to proceed IFP and directed the Clerk of Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to file the complaint. Id. On that same date, the Clerk of Court filed the complaint, in which the plaintiff purported to assert causes of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law against numerous defendants, including, among others, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Corrections (the "DOC"), State Correctional Institution - Mercer ("SCI Mercer"), State Correctional Institution - Camp Hill ("SCI Camp Hill"), and State Correctional Institution - Graterford ("SCI Graterford"). Id.

The Honorable Maurice B. Cohill entered an order transferring the case from the Western District of Pennsylvania to this court on June 16, 2014. Id. Upon assignment of the case to the undersigned, the court considered the plaintiff's motion to proceed IFP and denied the motion without prejudice to the plaintiff to file an amended motion by using the non-prisoner application and providing sufficient financial information to allow the court to properly analyze the motion. See 7-9-14 Order, Doc. No. 2. The plaintiff filed an amended application to proceed IFP on July 17, 2014. Doc. No. 3. The court reviewed the amended application and entered a memorandum opinion and an order on August 4, 2014, in which the court: (1) granted the amended application to proceed IFP; (2) dismissed with prejudice the claims against the DOC, SCI Mercer, SCI Camp Hill, and SCI Graterford because those defendants are not "persons" for purposes of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and even if they were "persons" under that statute, they were entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity; (3) dismissed without prejudice the plaintiffs remaining claims because he failed to allege how each remaining defendant was personally involved in the violation of his rights; and (4) granted the plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint by September 3, 2014, as to those claims that the court dismissed without prejudice.[2] See Mem. Op., Doc. No. 4; 8-4-14 Order, Doc. No. 5.

The plaintiff filed an amended complaint on November 24, 2014. Doc. No. 6. Despite the court's prior order dismissing with prejudice the claims against the DOC, SCI Mercer, SCI Camp Hill, and SCI Graterford, the plaintiff has once again named them as defendants in this action. Am. Compl. at 1, 4, 6-7. The plaintiff also names the following defendants: (1) Lehigh County; (2) the Lehigh County Clerk of Judicial Records; (3) Brian Thompson, the superintendent of SCI Mercer; (4) Brenda Goodall, the "Records Supervisor of DOC and/or Mercer;" (5) Paul G. Theriault, the "CCPM of DOC and/or Mercer;" (6) Martin P. Aubel, the deputy superintendent of SCI Mercer; (7) Amanda Cauvel, a records specialist at "DOC and/or Mercer;" (8) Jeffrey Hoovler, a facility grievance coordinator at SCI Mercer; (9) Mary Ann Durboraw, a records specialist at "DOC and/or Camp Hill;" (10) Linda Graves, a unit manager at SCI Mercer; (11) Michael Appelgarth, a counselor at SCI Mercer; (12) Timothy Henry, the "DCC Director of DOC and/or Camp Hill;" (13) Terri L. Richardson, a DOC employee at SCI Camp Hill; (14) Nora M. Williams, a DOC employee at SCI Camp Hill; (15) Monica B. Knowlden, a DOC employee at SCI Camp Hill; (16) Melissa L. Myers, a DOC employee at SCI Camp Hill; (17) the Honorable James T. Anthony, a Judge sitting on the Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas; (18) Jay Jenkins, a Lehigh County district attorney; and (19) Carol Marciano, a public defender employed by Lehigh County.[3] Id. at 1-4, 6-11. The plaintiff has sued the aforementioned individual defendants in their official and individual capacities. Id.

Concerning the substance of the plaintiffs allegations in the amended complaint, he alleges that Judge Anthony sentenced him on April 28, 2009, to county imprisonment for a period of a minimum of 90 days to a maximum of two years for the offense of Driving Under the Influence ("DUI") (third offense) at Docket No. CR-790-2009. Id. at ¶ 29. Judge Anthony also ordered that the plaintiff receive credit for time served in custody resulting from this offense. Id.

The plaintiff apparently received parole and eventually violated the terms of this parole. Id. at 30. Judge Anthony presided over the parole violation hearing, after which he ordered that the plaintiff serve the balance of the sentence previously imposed and receive credit for all time spent in custody resulting from the DUI offense. Id. The Clerk of Courts of Lehigh County forwarded the written terms of the plaintiffs sentence to the DOC on or about September 21, 2010.[4] Id. at ¶ 31. These terms indicated that the plaintiff was entitled to 552 days of credit for time served. Id.

When the plaintiff transferred from Lehigh County Prison to SCI Graterford on September 24, 2010, to begin serving his sentence, the defendants received a copy of the sentencing form showing that he had previously served 552 days on the DUI charge. Id. at ¶ 32. Although the plaintiff's maximum sentence expired on March 6, 2011, the DOC did not release him from incarceration at SCI Mercer until May 25, 2012, when he apparently prevailed on a writ of mandamus in state court. Id. at ¶¶ 33, 34.

Based on these allegations, the plaintiff asserts a count for alleged constitutional violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a separate state-law count for the tort of false imprisonment.[5] Id. at 12, 13. The plaintiff avers that despite his repeated demands that the defendants release him, they "unlawfully imprisoned [him] for at least 444 days in excess of the expiration of his maximum sentence."[6] Id. at ¶¶ 36, 37. He claims that this unlawful incarceration violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment, and he asserts a substantive due process claim under the Fourteenth Amendment. Id. at ¶ 38. He also asserts that the defendants' conduct caused him to suffer various forms of damages, including, inter alia, lost wages, lost personal property, and pain and suffering. Id. at ¶¶ 39-41.

Even though the plaintiff filed an amended complaint, he filed a request on December 29, 2014, that the court reconsider the order dismissing the original complaint. Doc. No. 7. In this document, the plaintiff appears to assert that the court should reconsider the prior order because the original complaint was missing "section III" and, as alleged in his amended complaint, he received a favorable state-court ruling on his claim that he was improperly incarcerated beyond his maximum sentence date. Id. The plaintiff also appears to contend that the court should reconsider the prior order because the Clerk of Court's office had recorded the wrong mailing address for him and he did not receive the court's August 4, 2014 memorandum opinion and order. Id.

II. DISCUSSION

A. The Plaintiff's Request for Reconsideration

The plaintiff requests that the court reconsider the order dismissing the original complaint for the aforementioned reasons. A party seeking reconsideration must establish "(1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available [at the time of the court's prior ruling]; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice." Max's Seafood Cafe ex rel. Lou-Ann, Inc. v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999) (citation omitted). As explained below, the plaintiff has failed to establish any basis for reconsidering the August 4, 2014 order.

In this regard, the plaintiff does not assert that there has been an intervening change in the controlling law applicable to district courts' review of complaints under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Additionally, although the plaintiff references that the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania granted him relief in his mandamus action based on his claim that the DOC failed to properly credit him for time served in calculating his maximum sentence, this fact was available to him at the time of filing his initial complaint. Even if this fact was a new fact, the plaintiff has already included allegations relating to this decision in the amended complaint, which the court will consider in conducting a sua sponte review of the amended complaint as permitted under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). ...


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