United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
MALACHY E. MANNION United States District Judge
Tinsley, an inmate formerly confined in the Schuylkill
Federal Correctional Institution,
(“FCI-Schuylkill”), Minersville, Pennsylvania,
filed this pro se Bivens action pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§1331. (Doc. 1, complaint). The sole Defendant named is
Kevin Bittenbender, FCI-Schuylkill Hearing Examiner.
Plaintiff challenges three misconduct hearings in which
Defendant Bittenbender was the hearing examiner. Id.
Specifically, Plaintiff claims that on February 29, 2006,
March 25, 2008 and September 2, 2014, Defendant Bittenbender
coerced Plaintiff “under duress” to plead guilty
to misconduct, and sanctioning him to loss of privileges,
disciplinary housing and disallowance of good conduct time.
Id. For relief, Plaintiff seeks damages for
Intimidation of Victim, Unlawful Restraint, Tampering With
Records, Involuntary Servitude, Criminal Coercion and
Securing Execution of Documents by Deception. Id.
Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the “PLRA”)
obligates the Court to engage in a screening process. See
Vieux v. Smith, 2007 WL 1650579(M.D. Pa.).
(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 against defendant who is immune
from such relief.
28 U.S.C. §1915A. The complaint will now be
reviewed pursuant to the screening provisions of the Act. For
the reasons set forth below, the instant complaint will be
dismissed for failure to state a claim pursuant 28 U.S.C.
sanctions levied against Tinsley during his disciplinary
hearing, were all imposed as a result of prison misconduct.
As such, the Court finds that any Fifth Amendment claim
regarding his disciplinary hearing is barred under Heck
v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994) and Edwards v.
Balisok, 520 U.S. 641 (1997). Under some circumstances, a
prisoner may bring a Bivens claim for monetary
damages based on the denial of due process during a prison
disciplinary hearing. See Wolff v. McDonnell, 418
U.S. 539, 554 (1974) (stating that plaintiff's §1983
“damages claim was ... properly before the District
Court and required determination of the validity of the
procedures employed for imposing sanctions, including loss of
good time, for flagrant or serious misconduct”).
However, such due process claims cannot be brought in a
Bivens action where the claims “necessarily
imply the invalidity of the punishment imposed” unless
the plaintiff shows that the sanctions have been overturned.
See Balisok, 520 U.S. at 648 (finding claims for
declaratory and monetary relief based on allegations that
plaintiff was denied opportunity to present a defense and
that hearing officer was biased could not be brought pursuant
to §1983); Heck, 512 U.S. at 486-87 (“We
hold that, in order to recover damages for allegedly
unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for other
harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a
conviction or sentence invalid, a §1983
plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been
reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order,
declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such
determination, or called into question by a federal
court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus, 28
U.S.C. §2254.”). Plaintiff's complaint
fails to contain any allegation indicating that any of the
three challenged misconducts have been reversed or expunged.
dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, the Court must grant the
Plaintiff leave to amend his complaint unless amendment would
be inequitable or futile. See Grayson v. Mayview State
Hospital,293 F.3d 103, 114 (3rd Cir. 2002). Because
there has been no prior challenge to Plaintiff's
misconducts, the Court concludes that amendment would be
futile. As such, the complaint will be dismissed pursuant to
28 U.S.C. ...