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Evans v. Kayes

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

April 3, 2017

BRYAN EVANS, Plaintiff
v.
CO JOE KAYES, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          William W. Caldwell, United States District Judge.

         I. Introduction

         The pro se plaintiff, Bryan Evans, filed this civil-rights action concerning events that occurred while housed at the Schuylkill County Prison (the Prison), in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.[1] Evans alleges that in April 2016 he was assaulted by Prison staff and then placed in a cell where he was assaulted by his cellmate. Named as Defendants are the following SCP employees: Warden Eugene Berdanier and Corrections Officer (CO) Joe Kayes. (ECF No. 1, Compl.)[2]

         Presently before the court is Warden Berdanier's Motion to Dismiss the Complaint (ECF No. 11) based on Evans' failure to state a claim against him. (ECF No. 11, Berdanier's Mot. to Dismiss).

         For the reasons discussed below, the court will grant Warden Berdanier's motion to dismiss based on his failure to state a claim against him. Evans, however, will be granted leave to file an amended complaint. His failure to file an amended complaint will result in this action proceeding only against CO Kayes.

         II. Standard of Review

         A motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P 12(b)(6) authorizes the dismissal of a complaint “for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the district court must “accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff is entitled to relief.” Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008)). The court may also rely on exhibits attached to the complaint and matters of public record. Sands v. McCormick, 502 F.3d 263, 268 (3d Cir. 2007).

         Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a), a complaint need only “include a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” “[T]he factual allegations of a complaint ‘must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level' and the complaining party must offer ‘more than labels and conclusions' or ‘formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.'” W. Run Student Hous. Assocs., LLC. v. Huntington Nat'l Bank, 712 F.3d 165, 169 (3d Cir. 2013)(quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). Legal conclusions are “not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Bistrian v. Levi, 696 F.3d 352, 365 (3d Cir. 2012)(citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009)).

         Additionally, pro se pleadings must be liberally construed and “held ‘to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'” Fantone v. Latini, 780 F.3d 184 (3d Cir. 2015) (citing Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 - 21, 92 S.Ct. 594, 596, 30 L.Ed.2d 652 (1972)); see also Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081 (2007); Giles v. Kearney, 571 F.3d 318, 322 (3d Cir. 2009). Pro se litigants are to be granted leave to file a curative amended complaint even when a plaintiff does not seek leave to amend, unless such an amendment would be inequitable or futile. See Estate of Lagano v. Bergen Cnty. Prosecutor's Office, 769 F.3d 850, 861 (3d Cir. 2014). A complaint that sets forth facts which affirmatively demonstrate that the plaintiff has no right to recover is properly dismissed without leave to amend. Grayson v. Mayview State Hospital, 293 F.3d 103, 106 (3d Cir. 2002).

         With this standard in mind, the following is the background to this litigation, as Evans alleges it.

         III. Background

         On April 12, 2016, Evans asked CO Joe Kayes for his inmate ID number so he could use the inmate telephone system. At the time, CO Kayes was watching the television in the block's dayroom. (ECF No. 1, p. 3). Evans “stated you obusly (sic) arnt (sic) busy.” (Id.) CO Kayes told Evans to “respect him.” (Id.) Evans “said your (sic) not busy.” (Id.) CO Kayes then stated he would “make [Evans] stay [at the Prison] a living hell”. (Id.) CO Kayes then handcuffed Evans, punched him in the back of the head and called for additional officers. (Id.) Even though Evans told “them” he could not breathe, CO Kayes “swept [his] feet” and “smashed” his face off the Delta block door. (Id.) Evans was knocked unconscious.

         When Evans awoke, he had no feeling in his face and his tongue tingled. He was in a cell with Josh Kaylor in the “RHU block.” (Id.) Inmate Kaylor then sucker punched Evans in the head. Unidentified prison staff removed him from the cell and he was “beaten on Echo Block RHU.” (Id.) The following day, on April 13, 2014, Evans received a misconduct report. (Id., p. 2).

         Plaintiff appears to be making Eighth Amendment claims for excessive force and a failure to protect. As relief, he seeks ...


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