United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
JOHN J. McCARTHY, Plaintiff
WARDEN EBBERT, et al., Defendants
William W. Caldwell United States District Judge
se plaintiff, John J. McCarthy, a former federal inmate,
filed the above-captioned civil-rights action while he was
incarcerated. (ECF No. 1, Compl.) McCarthy has filed an
Amended Complaint (ECF No. 4) and a motion for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 5). Plaintiff
alleges several conditions-of-confinement claims stemming
from his stay at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg,
Pennsylvania (USP Lewisburg).
names only Warden Ebbert and “John Doe Agents” as
defendants in his Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 4). The Amended
Complaint is before the court for preliminary screening
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B). Upon screening the complaint, the court will
grant McCarthy's motion to proceed in forma
pauperis but dismiss the Amended Complaint pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) due to Plaintiff's failure
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted against the
named defendant warden.
McCarthy will be granted leave to file a second amended
complaint specifically identifying the conduct of the warden
showing his personal involvement with civil-rights violations
against Plaintiff. In a second amended complaint, Plaintiff
shall also identify those USP Lewisburg officials and/or
medical professionals who allegedly violated his
constitutional rights by failing to protect him from assault,
those who used excessive force against him, those who denied
him medical/mental health care, and those who interfered with
his legal mail. The second amended complaint shall be
sufficiently specific as to time and place and allege the
conduct of each defendant that violated Plaintiff's
Standard of Review for Screening Pro Se In Forma Pauperis
litigant seeks to proceed in forma pauperis, without
the prepayment of fees, 28 U.S.C. § 1915 requires the
court to screen the complaint. Likewise, when a prisoner
seeks redress from a government defendant in a civil action,
whether proceeding in forma pauperis or not, the
court must screen the complaint. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A(a). Both 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and
§ 1915(A) give the court the authority to dismiss a
complaint if it is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a
claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii); 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)-(2); Ball v. Famiglio, 726
F.3d 448, 452 (3d Cir. 2013).
complaint is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis either
in law or fact. See Mitchell v. Horn, 318 F.3d 523,
530 (3d Cir. 2003)(citing Neitzke v. Williams, 490
U.S. 319, 327-28, 109 S.Ct. 1827, 1832-33, 104 L.Ed.2d 338
(1989)). In deciding whether the complaint fails to state a
claim on which relief may be granted, the court employs the
standard used to analyze motions to dismiss under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). See Allah v. Seiverling, 229
F.3d 220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000). Under Rule 12(b)(6), we
“must accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded
facts as true, but may disregard any legal
conclusions.” Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578
F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949-50,
173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009)). 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.
complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . .
.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A complaint is required to
provide “the defendant fair notice of what the . . .
claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.”
Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232 (3d
Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)).
the sufficiency of the compliant, the court “must take
three steps.” Connelly v. Lane Constr. Corp.,
809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 2016). First, a court must
“take note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to
state a claim.” Id. (internal quotations and
brackets omitted). Second, the court must identify
allegations that are merely legal conclusions “because
they . . . are not entitled to the assumption of
truth.” Id. While detailed factual allegations
are not required, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964, 167
L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). Third, a court should assume the
veracity of all well-pleaded factual allegations and
“then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an
entitlement to relief.” Connelly, 809 F.3d at
787 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679, 129 S.Ct. at
complaint filed by a pro se plaintiff 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). Yet, even a pro se plaintiff
“must allege sufficient facts in their complaints to
support a claim.” Mala v. Crown Bay Marina,
Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir.2013) (citation
omitted). 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
Allegations of the Amended Complaint
a year and a half the defendants” have denied McCarthy
protection from assault by other inmates because of his legal
activities. (ECF No. 4, ¶ 2). Plaintiff claims he was
assaulted six separate times while in the institution. After
“most” of the assaults the
“defendants” refused to document the event or
provide him medical care for his injuries. (Id.)
that staff have told inmates he is a “rat” so his
cellmate would assault him. (Id., ¶ 13). In one
instance, where staff knew inmate Roman beat his cellie to
death, SIA Sussanne Heath and Counselor Reese “and
others” placed Roman in the same cell as McCarthy.