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Boulware v. Overmyer

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

March 7, 2017

KENNETH BOULWARE, Plaintiff
v.
DEPUTY OVERMYER, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION [1]

          SUSAN PARADISE BAXTER United States Magistrate Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         A. Relevant Procedural and Factual History

         On December 14, 2015, Plaintiff Kenneth Boulware, an inmate formerly incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Forest in Marienville, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Forest"), [2] initiated this action by filing a pro se civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the following named Defendants, all of whom were staff members at SCI-Forest at the time Plaintiff filed this action: Deputy Overmyer ("Overmyer"); Deputy Oveborlander ("Oveborlander"); Major Ennis ("Ennis"); Lt. Haggerty ("Haggerty"); Lt. Davis ("Davis"); Lt. Dickey ("Dickey"); Lt. Murin ("Murin"); Sgt. Cochren ("Cochren"); Sgt. Anthony ("Anthony"); C.O. Mulloly ("Mulloly"); C.O. Drayer ("Drayer"); Dr. Simon ("Simon"); Nurse Hill ("Hill"); and C.O. Baumeratz ("Baumeratz").

         Although not entirely clear from Plaintiff's narrative complaint, it appears Plaintiff is alleging the following claims: (1) a Fourteenth Amendment due process claim arising from the theft of a television he purchased for his cell by another inmate, which occurred on December 6, 2014, during recreation time when the cell doors allegedly should have been closed (ECF No. 3, Complaint, at pp. 5, 10-12); (2) An Eighth Amendment excessive force claim against Defendants Drayer, Mulloly, Cochren, Baumeratz, and Murin arising from an incident that occurred on November 11, 2015 (Id. at p. 6); (3) An Eighth Amendment failure to protect claim alleging that Defendants failed to prevent him from being raped by another inmate on November 18, 2015, after he had informed them of threats he was receiving from other inmates (Id. at pp. 9, 13); (4) An Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate indifference to serious medical needs alleging inadequate medical and/or psychological care (Id. at pp. 6, 12, 14, 16); and (5) An Eighth Amendment conditions of confinement claim related to the denial of "several" showers and meals, and continual harassment by correctional officers (Id. at 12).

         On June 16, 2016, Defendants filed a partial answer to Plaintiff's complaint [ECF No. 38], and a partial motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment due process claim only [ECF No. 37]. Plaintiff has since filed a response to Defendants' partial motion to dismiss [ECF No. 41]. That motion is now ripe for consideration.

         B. Standards of Review

         1. Motion to Dismiss

         A motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) must be viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and all the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint must be accepted as true. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007). A complaint must be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12 (b)(6) if it does not allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). See also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (May 18, 2009) (specifically applying Twombly analysis beyond the context of the Sherman Act).

         The Court need not accept inferences drawn by plaintiff if they are unsupported by the facts as set forth in the complaint. See California Pub. Employee Ret. Sys. v. The Chubb Corp., 394 F.3d 126, 143 (3d Cir. 2004) citing Morse v. Lower Merion School Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). Nor must the court accept legal conclusions set forth as factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). See also McTernan v. City of York, Pennsylvania, 577 F.3d 521, 531 (3d Cir. 2009) (“The tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions”). A Plaintiff's factual allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, citing 5 C.Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216, pp. 235-36 (3d ed. 2004). Although the United States Supreme Court does “not require heightened fact pleading of specifics, [the Court does require] enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570.

         In other words, at the motion to dismiss stage, a plaintiff is “required to make a ‘showing' rather than a blanket assertion of an entitlement to relief.” Smith v. Sullivan, 2008 WL 482469, at *1 (D.Del. February 19, 2008) quoting Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008). “This ‘does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage, ' but instead ‘simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' the necessary element.” Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234, quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.

         The Third Circuit subsequently expounded on the Twombly/Iqbal line of cases:

To determine the sufficiency of a complaint under Twombly and Iqbal, we must take the following three steps:
First, the court must ‘tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim.' Second, the court should identify allegations that, ‘because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.' Finally, ‘where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity ...

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