United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
William J. Nealon United States District Judge
an inmate confined in the Smithfield State Correctional
Institution, Huntingdon ("SCI-Smithfield), Pennsylvania,
filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983. The named Defendants are Correctional Officer Gerald E.
Walton and John and Robert Doe.
before the Court is a motion dismiss, filed on behalf of
Defendant Walton. (Doc. 13). The motion has been fully
briefed and is ripe for disposition. For the reasons that
follow, Defendant's motion to dismiss will be granted.
Motion to Dismiss
12(b)(6) authorizes dismissal of a complaint for
"failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted." Under Rule 12(b)(6), we must "accept all
factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether,
under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff
may be entitled to relief." Fowler v. UPMC
Shadyside. 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir.2009) (quoting
Phillips v. County of Allegheny. 515 F.3d 224, 231
(3d Cir.2008)). 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
(2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
"[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." Id. (quoted case omitted).
Thus, "a judicial conspiracy claim must include at least
a discernible factual basis to survive a Rule 12(b)(6)
dismissal." Capogrosso v. The Supreme Court of New
Jersey, 588 F.3d 180, 184 (3d Cir.2009) (per curiam).
resolving the motion to dismiss, we thus "conduct a
two-part analysis." Fowler, supra. 578
F.3d at 210. First, we separate the factual elements from the
legal elements and disregard the legal conclusions. I£.
at 210-11. Second, we "determine whether the facts
alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the
plaintiff has a "plausible claim for relief.
Id. at 211 (quoted case omitted).
addition, because Plaintiff complains about "prison
conditions, " the screening provisions of 42 U.S.C.
§1997e apply, as do the screening provisions of 28
U.S.C. §1915(e), given that he was granted in forma
pauperis status to pursue this suit. The court's
obligation to dismiss a complaint under the PLRA screening
provisions for complaints that fail to state a claim is not
excused even after defendants have filed a motion to dismiss.
See, e.g., Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122,
1126 n. 6 (9th Cir.2000). 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:
Dare v. U.S.. Civil No. 06-115E, 2007 WL 1811198, at
*4 (W.D. Pa. June 21, 2007), aff'd. 264
Fed.Appx. 183 (3d Cir.2008).
Allegations in Plaintiff's Complaint.
February 17, 2016, Plaintiff states that he "was being
escorted to the Medical Department in the Dauphin County
Prison by Defendant Gerald E. Walton while walking with
Defendant Walton to the Medical Department, the Plaintiff was
talking to another prisoner when out of no were (sic),
Defendant Walton told the Plaintiff to close his dame mouth,
and then made a racial statement to the Plaintiff that the
Plaintiff needs to go back to this own country." (Doc.
1, complaint at 2). He claims that he "told Defendant
Walton that he was in his country, then Defendant Walton
started to push and then to assault the Plaintiff by hitting
and kicking the Plaintiff in the face and body" and
"the Plaintiff tried to cover his face and body up to
try and stop Defendant Walton from assaulting him."
Id. He alleges that "the next thing the
Plaintiff knew their was other Correctional Officers running
up to assault the Plaintiff and "the other Defendants
picked the Plaintiff up out of the Dauphin County Prison
hallway and was holding the Plaintiffs hands and arms, then
Defendant Walton started to punch the Plaintiff in the face
and head with a close fist, then the Plaintiff was taken to
the Dauphin County Medical Department for the injuries that
was caused by Defendant Walton, John Doe and Robert Doe,
which to this day because of the Defendants' actions of
cruel and unusual punishment the Plaintiff still have a lot
of nightmares." Id.
states that "after the treatment that the Plaintiff had
received from the Medical Department, one of the staff
members from medical told the Plaintiff that they need to
take pictures of the Plaintiffs face and body."
Id. Plaintiff claims that "Defendant Walton
tried to prevent the medical staff from taking the pictures
but the medical staff informed Defendant Walton that it was a
part of the policy of the Dauphin County Prison to document
all injuries of those who are incarcerated in the county
prison." Id- Plaintiff was then taken to the Restricted
Housing Unit. Id.
February 17, 2016, Plaintiff states that Defendant Walton
"issued the Plaintiff an institutional incident,
claiming a lot of false institutional charges against the
February 19, 2016, Plaintiff states that he was interviewed
by Correctional Officer Brian Walborn "who informed the
Plaintiff the he was assigned to investigate the incident
that had happen on February 17, 2016 against the Plaintiff
and Defendant Walton." Id. Plaintiff explained
that "Walton had called the Plaintiff a racial name then
just started beating the Plaintiff for no reason at
February 29, 2016, Plaintiff had an institutional
disciplinary hearing, where he claims he was disciplined to