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Christian v. Individual Parole Officers

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 8, 2015

JULIO CHRISTIAN, Plaintiff,
v.

MEMORANDUM

RICHARD P. CONABOY, District Judge.

I. Background

Here we consider for initial screening the pro se complaint filed by Plaintiff Julio Christian on February 10, 2015, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1.) His Complaint contains sixty-four numbered paragraphs alluding to wrongdoing related to the revocation of parole, threats of potential continued detention based on allegedly false information, and other vague allegations of retaliation for exercising constitutional rights. (Doc. 1 at 1-6.) Plaintiff seeks the following relief: "declaratory and injunctive relief"; "recovery in compensatory damages"; "seek to enjoin parole proceeding criminal prosecution"; and "seek constitutional liberty." (Doc. 1 at 6.) He clarifies that he is suing Defendants in their individual capacities. (Id. ) Though not named in the caption, Plaintiff filed this action against individual Defendants Cindy S. Johns on, James Ellis, Michael Green, Charles Demarko Spriggs, and Diana Kalback. ( See Docket.) Plaintiff identifies Defendant Johnson as a parole officer and Defendant Kolback as a parole agent. (Doc. 1 ¶¶ 39, 51.) He says that Defendants Ellis, Green, Demarko Spriggs, and Kolback conducted "a criminal proceeding" against him on February 27, 2007, and that they "acted to prosecute him at SCI-Graterford." (Doc. 1 ¶ 50.)

II. Discussion

A. Screening or Pro Se Complaint Standard

Plaintiff-an inmate currently confined at SCI-Rockview, Bellafonte, Pennsylvania-requests to proceed In forma pauperis. ( See Doc. 8.) Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, we are directed to screen a complaint as soon as practicable after filing when a prisoner seeks redress from a government entity or officer or an employee of a government entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). We are directed to dismiss the complaint or portions thereof 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." 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) Similarly, when a plaintiff proceeds in forma pauperis, we are to dismiss the case at any time if we determine that the action meets the criteria set out above. 28 U.S.C. § 1915 (e) (2) (B). This subsection "is designed largely to discourage the filing of, and waste of judicial and private resources upon, baseless lawsuits that paying litigants generally do not initiate because of the costs of bringing suit and because of the threat of sanctions for bringing vexatious suits under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989). Neitzke further explains:

To this end, the statute accords judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless. Examples of the former class are claims against which it is clear that the defendants are immune from suit... and claims of infringement of a legal interest which clearly does not exist.... Examples of the latter class are claims describing fantastic or delusional scenarios.

Id. at 327-28. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has added that "the plain meaning of the term frivolous' authorizes the dismissal of in forma pauperis claims that... are of little or no weight, value, or importance, not worthy of serious consideration, or trivial." Deutsch v. United States, 67 F.3d 1080, 1083 (3d Cir. 1985).

The standard for failing to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and § 1915A(b) (1) is the same as that under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12 (b) (6). See Allah v. Seiverling, 229 F.3d 220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000). In short, to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, "a complaint must contain sufficient material, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2008)).

B. Screening

As noted above Plaintiff's Complaint contains sixty-four numbered paragraphs alluding to wrongdoing related to the revocation of parole, threats of potential continued detention based on allegedly false information, and other vague allegations of retaliation for exercising constitutional rights. (Doc. 1 at 16.) We emphasize the vagueness of these allegations in proceeding with our analysis and discussing the bases upon which we conclude this action is properly dismissed.

1. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8

Plaintiff's Complaint apprises Defendants that they are being sued pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, that they are being sued in their individual capacities and that Plaintiff is seeking the following relief: "declaratory and injunctive relief"; "recovery in compensatory damages"; "seek to enjoin parole proceeding criminal prosecution"; and "seek constitutional liberty." (Doc. 1 at 1, 6.) Long on conclusions and sparse on facts, we glean the following substantive allegations from the vague assertions presented: Plaintiff's parole was revoked in 2005 ( see, e.g., Doc. 1 ¶¶ 5-6); he believes the revocation was improper and based on an allegedly false report ( id. ); a case related to his revocation was "nolle prossed" ( see, e.g., Doc. 1 ¶ 7); a parole officer threatened to use an allegedly false report against him in the future to detain him ( see, e.g., Doc. 1 ¶ 2); Defendant Johnson (a parole officer) played a part in the revocation, a proceeding in October 2006, and other matters including transferring Plaintiff to another institution (Doc. 1 ¶¶ 38-40); and Defendants Ellis, Green, Demarko Spriggs, and Kalback "conducted a criminal proceeding against him on February 22, 2007, and acted to prosecute him at SCI-Graterford" (Doc. 1 ¶ 50).

Plaintiff has previously been apprised of Rule 8's requirements, including the fact that "[d]ismissal under Rule 8 is... proper when a complaint left the defendants having to guess what of the many things discussed constituted [a cause of action].'" Christian v. State, Civ. A. No. 4:14-CV-00857 (M.D. Pa. filed June 24, 2014) (quoting Binsack v. Lackawanna County Prison, 438 F.Appx. 158 (3d Cir. 2011)). As in cases deemed subject to dismissal where the "true substance, if any, is well disguised, " id. (citing Simmons v. Apruzzo, 49 F.3d 83, 86 (2d Cir. 1995); Tillio v. Spiess, 441 F.Appx. 109, 110 (3d Cir. 2011): Tillio v. Northland Grp. Inc., 456 F.Appx. 78, 79 (3d Cir. 2012)), Plaintiff's complaint is subject to dismissal based on his failure to comply with Rule 8's requirement that he provide a "short and plain statement of the claim" showing that he is entitled to relief, Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 (a) (2).

We will delay our discussion of whether Plaintiff is entitled to be given leave to amend his complaint. While district courts should allow leave to amend prior to dismissal unless amendment would be futile, see Grayson v. Mayview State Hospital, 293 F.3d 103, 108 (3d Cir. 2002), at this ...


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