United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
RICHARD P. CONABOY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Doty, an inmate presently confined at the State Correctional
Institution, Frackville, Pennsylvania (SCI-Frackville)
initiated this pro se civil rights action pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Named as sole Defendant is
SCI-Frackville Hearing Examiner L. Jarvis. Accompanying the
Complaint is a request for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. See Doc. 7. For the reasons that
follow, Plaintiff's action will be dismissed without
admits that on July 20, 2015 he participated in the assault
of another SCI-Frackville inmate. As a result of his
involvement, he received an institutional misconduct charging
him with assault. Doty was found guilty of that charge by
Hearing Examiner Lequis, a non-defendant, and was sanctioned
to a ninety (90) day term of disciplinary custody.
Plaintiff completed service of his disciplinary custody term,
he was allegedly placed in administrative segregation on or
about October 18, 2015 by a prison Program Review Committee
(PRC). According to the Complaint, a PRC subsequently
recommended that Plaintiff be returned to general population
on June 22, 2016. Doty contends that the PRC's decision
disregarded his expressed fears for his safety if returned to
general population. Plaintiff indicates that he thereafter
refused an order to return to general population and was
issued a misconduct as a consequence of that refusal.
hearing on the misconduct charge was conducted by Hearing
Examiner Jarvis on June 28, 2016. Jarvis allegedly dismissed
the misconduct informing the Plaintiff that the inmate needed
to deal with any ramifications from other prisoners stemming
from his involvement the July 2015 incident. See
Doc. 1, ¶ 12. Plaintiff asserts that he filed a
grievance against Jarvis regarding the actions and remarks
attributed to that Defendant during the disciplinary hearing.
5, 2016, Doty asserts that he elected to forego attendance at
a disciplinary hearing stemming from a June 29, 2016
misconduct charge because multiple prisoners were being
permitted to walk around freely. Plaintiff was found guilty
of the charge (presumably failure to obey an order) by the
Defendant and was sanctioned to a thirty (30) day term of
disciplinary custody. See id. at ¶ 15.
August 4, 2016, Plaintiff was again issued a misconduct for
refusing to obey an order to return to general poulation. A
disciplinary hearing on the charge was conducted on August 9,
2016. Plaintiff was found guilty by the Defendant and
received a thirty (30) day term of disciplinary custody as a
sanction. See id. at ¶ 19.
August 19, 2016, Doty was issued another misconduct for
refusing to obey an order. Following a disciplinary hearing
before Defendant Jarvis, the Plaintiff was sanctioned to
another thirty (30) day term of disciplinary custody. See
id. at ¶ 16.
next contends that he was issued another misconduct for
refusing to return to general population on October 6, 2016.
A disciplinary hearing on the charge was conducted by the
Defendant on October 11, 2016. The Plaintiff was again found
guilty and sanction to another thirty (30) day term of
disciplinary custody. See id. at ¶ 23.
November 4, 2016, Doty received yet another misconduct for
refusing to go to general population. Once again Defendant
Jarvis presided at the ensuing misconduct hearing, found
Plaintiff guilty, and sanctioned him a thirty (30) day
disciplinary custody term. See id. at ¶ 25. The
Complaint contends that Defendant Jarvis acted in retaliation
over Plaintiff's filing of a grievance against him by
finding the inmate guilty with respect to each of the above
described disciplinary proceedings. Doty also indicates that
he was not given proper credit for time spent in disciplinary
custody at least with respect to some of the sanctions
imposed by Hearing Examiner Jarvis and that he should not
have been found guilty for simply expressing fears for his
safety. The Complaint also raises a state law tort claim of
negligence against Hearing Examiner Jarvis.
relief, Plaintiff seeks an award of compensatory and punitive
damages for emotional and mental injuries as well as
declaratory and injunctive relief including expungement of
the underlying disciplinary charges.
considering a complaint accompanied by a motion to proceed
in forma pauperis, a district court may rule that
process should not issue if the complaint is malicious,
presents an indisputably meritless legal theory, or is
predicated on clearly baseless factual contentions.
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989),
Douris v. Middleton Township, 293 Fed.Appx. 130, 132
(3d Cir. 2008). Indisputably meritless legal theories are
those "in which either it is readily apparent that the
plaintiff's complaint lacks an arguable basis in law or
that the defendants are clearly entitled to immunity from
suit ... ." Roman v. Jeffes, 904 F.2d 192, 194
(3d Cir. 1990) (quoting Sultenfuss v. Snow, 894 F.2d
1277, 1278 (11th Cir. 1990)).
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has
added that "the plain meaning of 'frivolous'
authorizes the dismissal of in forma pauperis claims
that . . . are of little or no weight, value, or importance,
not worthy of serious consideration, or trivial."
Deutsch v. United States, 67 F.3d 1080, 1083 (3d
Cir. 1995). It also has been determined that "the
frivolousness determination is a discretionary one, "
and trial courts "are in the best position" to
determine when an ...