United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
H. RAMBO United States District Judge
the Court for disposition is a civil action filed by pro
se Plaintiff, Jarod Golson, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983. (Doc. No. 1.) Upon review of the allegations within the
complaint, the Court will dismiss the complaint pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) with leave to amend.
initiated this civil action by filing a complaint (Doc. No.
1) on April 4, 2017, naming as defendants two Lackawanna
County detectives, Zach Harold and John Munly, a Lackawanna
County Assistant District Attorney, Michael Ossont, and a
Lackawanna County Magisterial District Judge, Terrence
Gallagher. (Doc No. 1.) Plaintiff alleges that he was
traveling with a friend to visit his god daughter, when his
friend pulled-over into a hotel parking lot to meet another
friend. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that they were then
“ambushed” by the defendant detectives along with
the Scranton Police Department. (Id.)
claim against Magistrate Terrance Gallagher is that the
Magistrate allegedly tried to convince Plaintiff's
co-defendant in a related criminal case to retract testimony
that would have purportedly exonerated Plaintiff from the
criminal case. (Id. at 2 and 3.) Plaintiff's
claim against Assistant District Attorney Michael Ossont is
that Attorney Ossont told Magistrate Gallagher to charge
Plaintiff with conspiracy even though the co-defendant stated
that Plaintiff had nothing to do with the criminal acts.
(Id. at 3.) Finally, Plaintiff's claim against
the detectives is that they incarcerated him knowing that
Plaintiff did not have any drugs on him and falsely accused
Plaintiff of being on a wiretap. (Id.) Plaintiff
seeks to recover damages in an excess amount of $5, 000,
000.00 against Defendants. (Id.)
Standard of Review
to the screening provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2),
the Court is required to screen in forma pauperis
complaints prior to service and “shall dismiss the case
at any time if the court determines that ... the action ...
(i) is frivolous or malicious [or] (ii) fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and (ii). An action is
“frivolous where it lacks an arguable basis in either
law or fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S.
319, 325 (1989). Factual allegations are “clearly
baseless” if they are “fanciful, ”
“fantastic, ” or “delusional, ”
Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 328, or where “the facts
alleged rise to the level of the irrational or the wholly
incredible.” Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25,
33 (1992). “[A] finding of factual frivolousness is
appropriate when the facts alleged rise to the level of the
irrational or the wholly incredible, whether or not there are
judicially noticeable facts available to contradict
them.” Id. at 33.
U.S.C. § 1915's failure to state a claim standard
mirrors Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, which authorizes the dismissal of a complaint for
“failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 12(b)(6). Rule 8 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a pleading
must set forth a claim for relief, which contains a short and
plain statement of the claim, showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief. The complaint must provide the defendant
with fair notice of the claim. See Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The issue in a motion
to dismiss is whether the plaintiff should be entitled to
offer evidence to support the claim, not whether the
plaintiff will ultimately prevail. See Phillips v. Cnty.
of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232 (3d Cir. 2008) (the Rule
8 pleading standard “simply calls for enough facts to
raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal
evidence of the necessary element.”); Nami v.
Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1996).
onus is on the plaintiff to provide a well-drafted complaint
that alleges factual support for his claims. “While a
complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does
not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's
obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his
‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels
and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements
of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555 (alteration in original and internal
citations omitted). The court need not accept unsupported
inferences, Cal. Pub. Employees Ret. Sys. v. The Chubb
Corp., 394 F.3d 126, 143 (3d Cir. 2004), nor legal
conclusions cast as factual allegations, Twombly,
550 U.S. at 556. Legal conclusions without factual support
are not entitled to the assumption of truth. See Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-679 (2009)
(“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do
not” satisfy the requirements of Rule 8).
the court winnows the conclusory allegations from those
allegations supported by fact, which it accepts as true, the
court must engage in a common sense review of the claim to
determine whether it is plausible. This is a context-specific
task, for which the court should be guided by its judicial
experience. The court must dismiss the complaint if it fails
to allege enough facts “to state a claim to relief that
is plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
677 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A
“claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677.
Lastly, a pro se complaint is held to “less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers” and can only be dismissed for failure to state
a claim if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can
prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would
entitle him to relief. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S.
519, 520-21 (1972).
complaint, as currently drafted, fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted. In addition to this shortcoming,
the doctrines of judicial and prosecutorial immunity also
provide daunting road blocks for Plaintiff to overcome in
order to state a claim against Magistrate Gallagher and
Assistant District Attorney Ossont.
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, 580-81 (3d Cir. 2003).
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 ...