United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Richard P. Conaboy United States District Judge
Edwards (Plaintiff), an inmate presently confined at the
Benner State Correctional Institution, Bellefonte,
Pennsylvania (SCI-Benner), initiated this pro se civil rights
action. Service of the Complaint was previously ordered.
as Defendants are four officials of the Pennsylvania
Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary John Wetzel,
Attorney Debra Rand, Regional Deputy Secretary Tabb Brickell,
and Director of Religious Accommodations Shawn Kephart.
Edwards is also proceeding against four SCI-Benner officials:
Superintendent Tammy Ferguson, Chaplain Matthew McCoy, Chief
of Food Services Marcia Noles;, and Grievance Coordinator
states that he arrived ar SCI-Benner on or about April, 2013.
He describes himself as being "a long standing Orthodox
Muslim" who follows the eating practices of Islam.
See Doc. 1, p. 3. The Complaint generally indicates
that SCI-Benner Chief of Food Services Noles is responsible
for the prison's dietary practices.
to the Complaint, the SCI-Benner no animal product diet does
not satisfy Plaintiff's religious need for an Halal diet.
Edwards adds that the prison's kitchen utensils are
"religiously contaminated' because they have been
used to prepare pork products. Plaintiff contends that
although the Kosher diet offered at the prison is the same as
a pork free Halal diet his request to be provided with a
Kosher diet was denied by Defendants McCoy and Kephart
because he is not Jewish. The Complaint concludes that the
denial of a Kosher diet violated Plaintiff's rights under
the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments as well as the
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42
U.S.C. § 2000cc-l(a)(RLUIPA). Edwards also raises a
pendent state law claim of intentional infliction of
emotional distress. Plaintiff does not specify what type of
relief he is seeking.
pending is a motion to dismiss the Complaint filed by the
Defendants. See Doc. 11. The unopposed motion
is ripe for consideration.
raise the following arguments for partial dismissal: (1)
there is no mention of Defendants Wetzel, Ferguson,
Becker-Bachic, Brickell and Rand in the body of the
Complaint; (2) the claims against Defendants Wetzel,
Ferguson, Becker-Bachic, Brickell, Rand, and Noles are
subject to dismissal on the basis of lack of personal
involvement; (3) there is no cognizable Eighth Amendment
claim that Banks was subjected to unconstitutional conditions
of confinement; (4) the Complaint does not plead a viable
claim under the Fourteenth Amendment; and (5) the state law
tort claim is barred by Pennsylvania's statutory
sovereign immunity. See Doc. 14, p. 3-4.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b) (6) provides for the dismissal
of complaints that fail to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted. 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)).
plaintiff must present facts that, if true, demonstrate a
plausible right to relief. See Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(stating that the complaint should include "a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief"); Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). This requirement
"calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable
expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of" the
necessary elements of the plaintiff's cause of action.
Id. at 556. A complaint must contain "more than
an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed- me
accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, U.S., 129 S.Ct.
1937, 1949 (2009). "Threadbare recitals of the elements
of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements
do not suffice." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949.
Legal conclusions must be supported by factual allegations
and the complaint must state a plausible claim for relief.
See id. at 1950.
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level, on the assumption that all the
allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in
fact)." Twombly, at 555. The reviewing court
must determine whether the complaint "contain[s] either
direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material
elements necessary to sustain recovery under some viable
legal theory." .Id. at 562; see also
Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d
Cir. 2008) (in order to survive a motion to dismiss, a
plaintiff must allege in his complaint "enough facts to
raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal
evidence of the necessary element[s]" of a particular
cause of action). Additionally, pro se pleadings are
to be construed liberally, Haines v. Kerner, 404
U.S. 519, 520 (1972) .
first two arguments contend that the claims against Secretary
Wetzel, Superintendent Ferguson, Grievance coordinator
Becker-Bachic, Regional Deputy Secretary Brickell, Attorney
Rand, and Chief of Food Services Noles are subject to
dismissal because there are no ...