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Collins v. Wiekrykas

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

April 24, 2017

J. WIEKRYKAS, et al., Defendants


          William W. Caldwell United States District Judge

         I. Introduction

         The pro se plaintiff, Johnny Collins, an inmate at the Mahanoy State Correctional Institution (SCI-Mahanoy), in Frackville, Pennsylvania, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action, alleging that Records Supervisor J. Wiekrykas, Superintendent John Kerestes and Chief Grievance Officer Dorina Varner violated his Eighth Amendment and due-process rights by delaying the commencement of one of his criminal sentences. (ECF No. 1, Compl.) As relief he seeks compensatory and punitive damages. He has also filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis, 28 U.S.C. § 1915.

         For the reasons that follow, Collins' motion to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 2) will be granted, but his Complaint will be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii) for failure to state a claim on which relief may be granted. He will not be granted leave to file an amended complaint as an amended complaint would be futile.

         II. Standard of Review for Screening

         When a 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).

         A 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. 2007).

         A 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 Cir. 2014).

         III. Allegations of the Complaint

         On January 15, 2003, Collins was found guilty of Receiving Stolen Property and Driving under a Suspended License. See Commonwealth v. Collins, CP-22-CR-2607-2002 (Pa. Ct. Com. Pl. Dauphin Cnty.).[1] He was sentenced on May 7, 2003. (Id.) He received a term of sixty months' imprisonment and credit for time running from July 22, 2002, to May 7, 2003. (Id.) On July 8, 2004, the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed his sentence. (Id.) On July 26, 2010, Collins' motion for postconviction relief was dismissed. (Id.) Collins was released on Probation/Parole on April 19, 2010. (Id.) On October 19, 2010, a detainer was issued on this sentence. (Id.) On August 21, 2007, a parole revocation hearing was held. (Id.) The docket entry reflects the following notation: “Revocation Hearing Held 8/21/12 before Judge John Cherry. Ct. 1 - T.B.R.S.P. - CLOSE DOCKET.” (Id.)

         On January 10, 2007, Collins pled guilty to various drug charges. See Commonwealth v. Collins, CP-22-CR-09994629-2006 (Pa. Ct. Com. Pl. Dauphin Cnty.).[2]On January 12, 2007, Collins was sentenced to two-and-a-half years to five years' imprisonment on the drug charges. He was to receive credit from May 18, 2006, to January 10, 2007. (Id.)

         On October 19, 2010, Collins was again arrested by the Harrisburg Police Department on various drug charges. See Commonwealth v. Collins, CP-22-CR-0006085-2010 (Pa. Ct. Com. Pl. Dauphin Cnty.).[3] On May 8, 2012, Collins was found guilty on several of the drug charges. (Id.) On July 25, 2012, Plaintiff was sentenced to nine to eighteen years' imprisonment followed by one year's probation. (Id.)

         On February 25, 2013, the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (the Board) rendered a decision to recommit Collins as a convicted parole violator to serve eighteen months' backtime. (ECF No. 1, Compl., p. 3). Collins alleges that on April 11, 2011, both cases “(2607 and 4629) expired prior to the 2/25/13 Board decision as a result of the 17½ months time credit on case No. 4629.” (Id.)

         On October 17, 2015, Collins filed Grievance No. 592738 concerning prison staff's failure to “cure the more than 5 year delay in the commencement of the 9 to 18 year sentence in case No. CP-22-CR-6085-2010 for more than five (5) years.” (Id.) The grievance was denied at Final Review on January 14, 2016. (Id.) He names as defendants all those ...

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