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Green v. Commonwealth, Department of Corrections

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

March 12, 2015



CHRISTOPHER C. CONNER, Chief District Judge.

Plaintiff Tyrone Green ("Green"), a state inmate formerly incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Huntingdon ("SCI-Huntingdon"), Pennsylvania, commenced this civil rights action on December 12, 2013. (Doc. 1). The matter is presently proceeding via an amended complaint. (Doc. 17). Named as defendants are the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, Superintendent Bickell, Deputy Superintendent Eckard, Lieutenant Taylor, Lieutenant Holtz, Settle, Garmen and Morrison, past and present Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("DOC") employees assigned to SCI-Huntingdon.[1] Ripe for disposition is defendants' motion (Doc. 21) to dismiss Green's amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, the motion to dismiss will be granted.

I. Standard of Review

Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for the dismissal of complaints that fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). When ruling on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must "accept as true all [factual] allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Kanter v. Barella, 489 F.3d 170, 177 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 350 (3d Cir. 2005)). Although the court is generally limited in its review to the facts contained in the complaint, it "may also consider matters of public record, orders, exhibits attached to the complaint and items appearing in the record of the case." Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 n. 2 (3d Cir. 1994); see also In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997).

Federal notice and pleading rules require the complaint to provide "the defendant notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To test the sufficiency of the complaint in the face of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court must conduct a three-step inquiry. See Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 130-31 (3d Cir. 2010). In the first step, "the court must tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim.'" Id . (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 675 (2009)). Next, the factual and legal elements of a claim should be separated; well-pleaded facts must be accepted as true, while mere legal conclusions may be disregarded. Id .; see also Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009). Once the well-pleaded factual allegations have been isolated, the court must determine whether they are sufficient to show a "plausible claim for relief." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556); Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (requiring plaintiffs to allege facts sufficient to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level"). A claim "has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads 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.

II. Allegations of the Complaint

Green alleges that he filed civil actions in the Court of Common Pleas of Huntingdon County, see Civ. No. 06-1331, and in this court, see Green v Sneath, Civ. while he was incarcerated at SCI-Huntingdon and the State Correctional Institution at Smithfield ("SCI-Smithfield"). (Doc. 17, ¶¶ 9-10). Green further alleges that on December 14, 2011, during the pendency of these lawsuits, defendant Settle and other unknown personnel allegedly entered his cell to escort him from general population to Administrative Custody ("AC"), for "purported investigative purpose[s] memorialized to DC-141 Incident Report No.: 382640." (Id. at ¶ 12). Green avers that such a transfer "was required to be reviewed by Defendant Bickel [sic]." (Id. at ¶ 13).

Defendant Settle and other unknown personnel allegedly packed Green's personal property in records center boxes and removed the boxes from his cell without affording him the opportunity to inventory them. (Id. at ¶ 14). Between December 15, 2011, and December 19, 2011, while in AC, Green sent an inmate request form to defendant Taylor inquiring about the status of his personal property. (Id. at ¶¶ 16-17). On December 20, 2011, defendant Taylor allegedly responded that the property would not be returned. (Id. at ¶¶ 18-19).

Green claims that the Program Review Committee ("PRC") did not interview him or provide him with any information regarding incident report 382640, as required by prison policy. (Id. at ¶¶ 20, 22). Instead, defendants Eckard and Garmen interviewed him about a separate and distinct incident report which he allegedly received after he suffered a mental breakdown due to his "baseless placement and continued confinement in AC Status.'" (Id. at ¶ 21). On or about December 23, 2012, Green requested an interview with defendant Morrison, who allegedly was responsible for day-to-day operations. (Id. at ¶ 24). A corrections officer purportedly advised Green that "Lieutenant [Defendant] Morrison told me to tell you that Lieutenant Holtz said have a Merry Christmas in the hole." (Id. at ¶ 24). Green allegedly remained in AC over the Christmas holiday, preventing him from visiting with his family. (Id. at ¶ 25).

On December 28, 2011, Green was informed that he was being transferred to the State Correctional Institution at Forest ("SCI-Forest") and that he was required to sign his name to a DC-153 Inmate Property Receipt Form acknowledging that he inventoried his personal property. (Id. at ¶¶ 26-28). Green objected because he was not afforded an opportunity to inventory his property when it was packed and removed on December 14, 2011. (Id. at ¶¶ 26-30). The property officer noted that plaintiff refused to sign the DC-153 Inmate Property Receipt Form. (Id. at ¶ 31).

On December 29, 2011, Green was transferred to the SCI-Forest and placed in AC pending review by the PRC. (Id. at ¶¶ 32-33). During his PRC interview on January 5, 2012, he was informed that his Custody Level had been increased from Level 3 to Level 4. (Id. at ¶ 36). Allegedly, members of the PRC advised him that his Custody Level increased because SCI-Huntingdon officials "wanted to get rid of [him]." (Id. at ¶ 37).

At SCI-Forest, Green was released into general population which enabled him to receive visitors. (Id. at ¶ 38). He asserts, however, that his family was unable to visit him because of the significant distance between the institution and his hometown of Philadelphia. (Id. at ¶¶ 42-43). An SCI-Forest administrator reunited Green with his personal property, but Green asserts that a number of personal photographs were defaced "with inscriptive markings of racist connotation, " and that other photographs and several hundred pages of legal documents were missing. (Id. at ¶¶ 39-41).

III. ...

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