United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
RICHARD P. CONABOY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Lorenzano, an inmate presently confined at the State
Correctional Institution, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania
(SCI-Huntingdon) filed this pro se civil rights
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Plaintiff has also
submitted an in forma pauperis application which
will be granted for the sole purpose of the filing of this
action with this Court.
as sole Defendant is Sergeant Grove, an SCI-Huntingdon
correctional officer. Plaintiff states that while confined at
SCI-Huntingdon on September 10, 2016 he was subjected to
unwarranted threats following a misunderstanding with a
correctional officer while leaving the prison's
infirmary. The correctional officer, a non-defendant,
purportedly contacted other correctional staff regarding this
result, when Lorenzano returned to his cell block, Sergeant
Grove allegedly began screaming at him and intentionally spit
in the Plaintiff s face when the prisoner tried to walk away.
See Doc. 1, p. 5. Grove continued to yell and spit
on Lorenzano and allegedly tried to provoke a response from
the Plaintiff so that physical force could be applied against
the inmate. It is also alleged that after Plaintiff
eventually walked away and returned to his cell, Grove
refused to let Lorenzano speak to a superior officer.
Plaintiff concludes that the Defendant's purported
unwarranted aggressive actions were retaliatory and
constituted a violation of his constitutional rights. As
relief, Plaintiff seeks monetary damages.
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)). In order to state a viable
civil rights claim a plaintiff must make a showing that the
conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under
color of law and that said conduct deprived him of a right,
privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or by a
statute of the United States. Cohen v. City of
Philadelphia, 736 F.2d 81, 83 (3d Cir. 1984). Each named
defendant must be shown, via the complaint's allegations,
to have been personally involved in the events or occurrences
which underlie those claims set forth in the Complaint.
Rode v. Dellarciprete, 845 F.2d 1195, 1207 (3d Cir.
pro se litigants are afforded liberal treatment,
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972),
based upon the deficiencies outlined below the Complaint is
subject to dismissal.
complaint generally asserts that he is seeking an award of
monetary damages. It is unclear as to whether Plaintiff is
seeking to recover compensatory damages for emotional and
psychological injuries sustained as a result of the actions
attributed to Sergeant Grove. For the reasons outlined below,
Lorenzano is not entitled to recover compensatory damages for
mental anguish or emotional injury.
U.S.C. § 1997e(e) provides that "[n]o federal civil
action may be brought by a prisoner confined in a jail,
prison or other correctional facility, for mental or
emotional injury suffered while in custody without a prior
showing of physical injury." In Allah v.
Al-Hafeez, 226 F.3d 247, 250 (3d Cir. 2000), the United
States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recognized that
where a plaintiff fails to allege actual injury, Section
1997e(e) bars recovery of compensatory damages. However, the
Court of Appeals added that an inmate alleging a violation of
his constitutional rights may still pursue the action to
recover nominal and/or punitive damages even in the absence
of compensable harm. Under the standards announced in
Allah, Lorenzano's request for monetary relief
to the extent that it seeks compensatory damages for
emotional and psychological injuries caused by Sergeant Grove
is barred by Section 1997e(e) .
alleges in part that Sergeant Grove made verbal threats and
harassing remaks against him on September 10, 2016. There is
no assertion that any of those purported statements were
accompanied by any ...