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Thompson v. Caver

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 23, 2017

DEPUTY WARDEN CARVER, et al., Defendants


          A. RICHARD CAPUTO United States District Judge.

         I. Introduction

         Mr. Thompson, a former inmate, proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis in this action concerning events that transpired at the Monroe County Correctional Facility (MCCF) in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.[1] Mr. Thompson filed this action in July 2014. He names the following individuals as defendants: Deputy Warden Caver; Lt. Joynes; Jason Labar; several John Doe Corrections Officers (CO); John Doe Intake Officer; John Doe Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) Trooper; the MCCF; the Monroe County District Attorney's Office; and Jason Labar of the Monroe County Public Defenders Office. (ECF No. 1, Compl.)

         As Mr. Thompson is proceeding in forma pauperis in this action, the Complaint is before us for screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. For the following reasons, the Complaint will be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). However, Mr. Thompson will be permitted to file an amended complaint exclusively as to his failure to protect claim.

         II. Standard of Review

         The Court is required to screen Mr. Thompson's Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a) and 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). The Court must dismiss a complaint, or any portion thereof, if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii).

         The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the same as that for dismissing a complaint pursuant to a motion filed under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Allah v. Seiverling, 229 F.3d 220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000). Under Rule 12(b)(6), we must “take as true all the factual allegations of the [complaint] and the reasonable inferences that can be drawn from them, but we disregard legal conclusions and recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements.” Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 128 (3d Cir. 2010)(quotation marks omitted and citation omitted).

         “The test in reviewing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) is whether, under any ‘plausible' reading of the pleadings, the plaintiff would be entitled to relief." Guidotti v. Legal Helpers Debt Resolution, L.L.C., 716 F.3d 764 (3d Cir. 2013) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). To satisfy this standard, 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, Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. at 1964. Nonetheless, a complaint has to plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570, 127 S.Ct. at 1974. “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009)(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 127 S.Ct. at 1965). “[L]abels and conclusions” are not enough, Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. at 1964-65, and a court “‘is not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.'” Id., 127 S.Ct. at 1965 (quoted case omitted).

         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). A plaintiff is to be granted leave to file a curative amended complaint even when he does not seek leave to amend, unless 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. Background

         A. Procedural History

         This matter was transferred from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to this Court as the MCCF is located in this district. Upon initially screening the matter, this Court dismissed the action on the basis of Mr. Thompson's apparent failure to pay the requite initial partial filing fee. (ECF No. 18.) Mr. Thompson then sought reconsideration of that order and provided evidence of his payment of the filing fee to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The Court then reopened the matter.

         B. Allegations of the Complaint

         Mr. Thompson alleges that on April 11, 2014, at approximately 9:00 p.m., while housed at the MCCF, prison officials placed him in a cell with another inmate who was a “known sexual predator.” He claims prison officials knew this inmate was “to be separated from general confindment (sic) inmates in the intake area”. (ECF No. 1, p. 4.) Mr. Thompson “was approached in a sexually (sic) manner and touched on [his] private part by [the] another inmate”. (Id., p. 10.) He then ...

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