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Talley v. Gilmore

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

June 7, 2017

ROBERT D. GILMORE, et al., Defendants.


          Cynthia Reed Eddy United States Magistrate Judge

         Presently before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss For Failure to State A Claim, with brief in support thereof, filed by Defendant Ankram. (ECF Nos. 20 and 21). Plaintiff has not responded to the motion, and the time for responding has now passed. Therefore, in the absence of any timely response by Plaintiff, the Court will deem the motion to dismiss to be ripe for resolution. For the reasons set forth below, the motion to dismiss will be denied.


         Plaintiff, Quintez Talley ("Plaintiff or "Talley") is a state prisoner in the custody of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections currently confined at SCI-Graterford. On or about July 29, 2016, while incarcerated at SCI-Greene, Talley filed a civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") in the Court of Common Pleas of Greene County, Pennsylvania. (Doc. No. 1-2). The DOC Defendants removed the case on August 25, 2016. Plaintiffs operative pleading is the Amended Complaint filed on February 13, 2017. (ECF No. 17).

         The Amended Complaint separates the defendants into two groups: the Program Review Committee ("PRC"), a five member group, and the Psychiatric Review Team ("PRT"), a three member group of which movant Nurse Practitioner Ankram was a member. At all relevant times, with the exception of defendant Ankram, all defendants were employed by the Department of Corrections at SCI-Greene.

         The Department of Corrections and the DOC employees have filed Answers to the Complaint. (ECF Nos. 19 and 27). The instant motion to dismiss was filed by Defendant Ankram.

         Distilled to its essence, the Amended Complaint alleges that the PRC and PRT groups improperly changed Plaintiffs stability code from a "D" stability code to a "C" stability code, which resulted in him no longer being eligible for certain privileges and programs. Plaintiff alleges the change in classification was in retaliation or punishment for him filing a grievance, that the members of the PRC and PRT groups acted in conspiracy to change his classification, and that his continued placement in the RHU violated his Eighth Amendment rights.

         Defendant Ankram seeks dismissal of the Amended Complaint based on Plaintiffs failure to exhaust his administrative remedies and on Plaintiffs failure to allege sufficient facts which establish that Ankram violated any of his rights.

         Standard of Review

         The applicable inquiry under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is well settled. A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the legal sufficiency of the complaint. When reviewing a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept all well-pleaded facts and allegations, and must draw all reasonable inferences therefrom in favor of the plaintiff. Burtch v. Milberg Factors, Inc., 62 F.3d 212, 220 (3d Cir. 2011), cert, denied, __ U.S. __, 131 S.Ct. 1861 (2012) (citing In re Ins. Brokerage Antitrust Litig. , 618F.3d300, 314(3dCir.2010)). However, as the Supreme Court of the United States made clear in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, such "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." 550 U.S. 554, 555 (2007). See also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (holding that, while the Complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, it must contain more than a "formulaic recitation of the elements" of a constitutional claim and must state a claim that is plausible on its face) (quoting Twombly, and providing further guidance on the standard set forth therein).

         To determine the legal sufficiency of a complaint after Twombly and Iqbal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit instructs that a district court must conduct a three-step analysis when considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 130 n.7 (3d Cir. 2010) (noting that although Iqbal describes the process as a "two-pronged approach, " it views the case as outlining three steps) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675). First, "the court must 'tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim.'" Id. at 130 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675) (alteration in original). Second, the court "should identify allegations that, 'because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.'" Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). Third, '"where there are well- pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement for relief" Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).


         Defendant Ankram's arguments will be addressed seriatim.

         A. The Administrative ...

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