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Robinson v. Wheary

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 17, 2017

JASON ROBINSON, Plaintiff
v.
BRIAN WHEARY, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          Sylvia H. Rambo United States District Judge

         I. Background

         On November 3, 2016, Plaintiff Jason Robinson, an inmate previously confined at the Northumberland County Prison in Pennsylvania, filed a pro se civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. No. 1.) The defendants named in the complaint are the following: (1) Brian Wheary, (2) Roy Johnson, (3) James Smink, (4) Robert Wolfe, (5) Vinny Clausi, (6) Steven Bridy, (7) Richard Shock, (8) Ann Targonski, (9) Christopher Grayson, and (10) County of Northumberland. (Id.) Along with his complaint, Robinson submitted a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and an authorization form. (Doc. Nos. 2 and 3.) On December 16, 2016, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint (Doc. No. 10) and brief in support. (Doc. No. 11.) Robinson filed a brief in opposition on January 3, 2017. (Doc. No. 13.)

         Robinson alleges that Defendants caused the prison to be without window closures, hot or warm water, and cleaning products, all which exposed him to some form of harm. (Doc. No. 1.) Robinson also alleges that Defendants failed to provide him with nutritionally adequate food, denied him adequate, sanitary or proper clothing and bedding, and denied him out of cell activity. (Id.)

         For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted but his complaint will be dismissed and he will be granted an opportunity to submit an amended complaint.

         II. Discussion

         Because Plaintiff complains about prison conditions, the screening provisions, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) apply, given that Plaintiff is a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis. The Court has an obligation to dismiss a complaint under the PLRA screening provisions “at any time the court determines” the complaint is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from suit. See, e.g., Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126 n. 6 (9th Cir. 2000); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Hence, if there is a ground for dismissal which was not relied upon by a defendant in a motion to dismiss, the court may nonetheless sua sponte rest its dismissal upon such ground pursuant to the screening provisions of the PLRA. See Lopez, 203 F.3d 1122.

         A plaintiff, in order to state a viable § 1983 claim, must plead two essential elements: 1) that the conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under color of state law, and 2) that said conduct deprived the plaintiff of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States. Natale v. Camden County Corr. Facility, 318 F.3d 575, 580-581 (3d Cir. 2003); Groman v. Township of Manalapan, 47 F.3d 628, 638 (3d Cir. 1995); Shaw by Strain v. Strackhouse, 920 F.2d 1135, 1141-42 (3d Cir. 1990).

         A basic rule of pleading requires that a “district court . . . determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a ‘plausible claim for relief.' In other words, a complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief. A complaint has to ‘show' such an entitlement with its facts.” Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009).

         While a complaint need only contain “a short and plain statement of the claim, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), and detailed factual allegations are not required, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007), a complaint must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). “[L]abels and conclusions” are not enough, Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, and a court is “not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.' ” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal quotation marks omitted).

         Robinson's complaint is completely conclusory and does not specify any conduct, wrongful or otherwise, of the named defendants. The following are the facts averred by Robinson in his complaint:

13. At all times, Defendants caused the Northumberland County Prison to be without window closures, exposing Plaintiff to freezing temperatures during the winter months.
14. At all times, Defendants caused the Northumberland County Prison to be without hot or warm water, exposing Plaintiff to the unhygienic conditions associated with being unable to properly bathe.
15. At all times, Defendants caused the Northumberland County Prison to be without cleaning products, exposing Plaintiff to the unhygienic conditions associated with being unable ...

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