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Washington v. U.S.P. Canaan Kitchen/FBOP

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 13, 2015

KEMYAH WASHINGTON, JR., Plaintiff
v.
U.S.P. CANAAN KITCHEN/FBOP, Defendants.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

MARTIN C. CARLSON, Magistrate Judge.

I. Statement of Facts and of the Case

The plaintiff is a federal prisoner who was formerly housed in the United States Penitentiary, Canaan. Liberally construed, in his complaint the plaintiff brings a Bivens[1] constitutional tort action against an entity he describes as "U*.S.P. Canaan kitchen/FBOP, " alleging that the defendant violated his constitutional right under the Eighth Amendment to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. (Doc. 1.) The plaintiff's pro se complaint suggests that, in June of 2011, the prison served inmates chicken fajitas. (Doc. 1.) According to the plaintiff, the chicken was bad, and was tainted with salmonella bacteria. (Id.) Consequently, the plaintiff contracted food poisoning, and suffered excruciating pain and symptoms which included headaches, diarrhea, abdominal pains, nausea, chills, vomiting, inability to eat and profuse sweating. (Id.) Along with this complaint, the plaintiff has filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 6.) For the reasons set forth below, we will grant this motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, (Doc. 6.), but as part of our legally mandated screening process for pro se, in forma pauperis complaints we recommend that this constitutional tort claim be dismissed against the institutional defendant, the U.S.P. Canaan kitchen/FBOP.

II. Discussion

A. Screening of Pro Se Prisoner Complaints-Standard of Review

This Court has a statutory obligation to conduct a preliminary review of pro se complaints filed by prisoners who seek leave to proceed in forma pauperis which seek redress against government officials. Specifically, we are obliged to review the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 1915A which provides, in pertinent part:

(a) Screening. - The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for dismissal. - On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint -
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

Under Section 1915A, the Court must assess whether a pro se complaint "fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." This statutory text mirrors 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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

With respect to this benchmark standard for legal sufficiency of a complaint, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has aptly noted the evolving standards governing pleading practice in federal court, stating that:

Standards of pleading have been in the forefront of jurisprudence in recent years. Beginning with the Supreme Court's opinion in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) continuing with our opinion in Phillips [v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 230 (3d Cir. 2008)] and culminating recently with the Supreme Court's decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal ___U.S. ___, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009) pleading standards have seemingly shifted from simple notice pleading to a more ...

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