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Coulston v. Glunt

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

July 15, 2015

TROY COULSTON, Plaintiff,
v.
STEVEN GLUNT, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM ORDER

KIM R. GIBSON, District Judge.

On May 29, 2014, Troy Coulston ("Plaintiff') initiated this action by the filing of a Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis and a Complaint alleging violations of his rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs Complaint was docketed on June 17, 2014. (ECF No. 5.) In accordance with the Magistrate Judge's Act, 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), and Rules 72.C and 72.D of the Local Rules of Court, all pretrial matters were referred to United States Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan.

In response to Plaintiffs Complaint, Defendants filed a Partial Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 21.) On May 22, 2015, Magistrate Judge Lenihan issued a Report and Recommendation, recommending that the Motion be denied in part and granted in part. (ECF No. 41.) The parties were given until June 8, 2015 to file written objections, and the time for doing so was thereafter extended to July 13, 2015 upon the request of Plaintiff. (ECF Nos. 42, 43.) Instead of filing objections, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to Amend his Complaint along with a proposed amended complaint. (ECF No. 44, 44-1.) For the following reasons, Plaintiffs Motion to Amend will be denied as futile and the Report and Recommendation will be adopted as the Opinion of the Court.

With regard to the Motion to Amend, the only notable difference between Plaintiffs original Complaint and the proposed amended complaint relates to Plaintiffs due process claims. In his original Complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Defendants Young, Shea, Glunt, Chencharick and Varner violated his due process rights because they failed to investigate and notify the police of Defendant Wilt's assault when Plaintiff requested that they do so. According to the Magistrate Judge, Defendants' actions did not impair a protected liberty interest, so it was recommended that the claim be dismissed. The Magistrate Judge also noted that the Defendants' respective roles in the grievance review process were insufficient to establish personal involvement in a civil rights action. With regard to the due process claim asserted against Defendant Wilt, it was recommended that it be dismissed because there were no facts in the Complaint that supported a plausible claim for relief.

Plaintiff now wants to amend his Complaint in an attempt to state a due process claim. In his proposed amended complaint, he alleges that Defendants Young, Shea, Glunt, Chencharick and Varner denied him due process because they failed to investigate and notify the police of Defendant Wilt's actions and Plaintiff maintains that they were required to do pursuant to "DOC state policy, rules and regulations." (ECF No. 44-1 at ¶¶ 13, 15-16, 18, 20, 22, 42, 44, 49, 51, 54, 56, 58, 60, 62, 64.) He further claims that Defendant Wilt failed to report his crime to the authorities and to notify medical personnel of Plaintiffs injuries as he was required to do pursuant to "DOC state policy, rules and regulation." Id. at ¶¶ 14, 25, 30-31.

Despite the changes made in the proposed amended complaint, Plaintiff has still failed to state a due process claim against the Defendants. In general, to prevail on such a claim, a plaintiff must show the deprivation of a protected liberty or property interest that occurred without due process of law. See Bums v. Pa. Dep't of Corr., 544 F.3d 279, 285 (3d Cir. 2008). Plaintiff, however, fails to state in what specifically he had a liberty or property interest. Liberally construing the proposed amended complaint, it appears Plaintiff alleges that he was deprived of his interest in having prison staff investigate and notify police of his assault allegations and having his alleged attacker turn himself in to authorities and notify medical staff of his injuries. This, however, implicates neither a liberty nor property interest.[1]

Moreover, Plaintiff's reliance on unspecified "DOC policies, rules and regulations" to support his claim fails to meet even the threshold requirement of alleging the existence of a state-created liberty interest. As such, Plaintiff fails to state a due process claim. Further, the Court finds that it would be futile to allow Plaintiff to amend his Complaint with respect to a due process claim because, as stated above, he was deprived of neither a liberty nor property interest[2]

There being no other objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation, the following Order is entered.

AND NOW, this 15th day of July, 2015;

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants' Partial Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 21) is denied as it relates to Plaintiffs retaliation and assault claims and granted in all other respects.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiffs Motion for Leave to Amend (ECF No. 44) is denied as futile.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 41) is adopted as the Opinion of the Court.

AND IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this case is remanded back to the Magistrate Judge for all further pretrial matters.


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