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Crawford v. McMillan

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 9, 2017

LEE E. CRAWFORD, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN ROBERT MCMILLAN, ET AL., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          SYLVIA H. RAMBO United States District Judge

         Before the Court for screening is a civil action filed by pro se Plaintiff, Lee E. Crawford, 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 the doctrines of res judicata and the statute of limitations.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff initiated this civil action by filing a complaint (Doc. No. 1) on April II, 2017, regarding the medical care he was receiving while a federal pretrial detainee confined at the Lackawanna County Prison.[1] Named as defendants are the following individuals and entities: (1) Robert McMillan, Warden of Lackawanna County Prison; (2) Edward J. Zaloga, D.O.; (3) Correctional Care, Inc.; (4) Anthony Iannuzzi, Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner; (5) Ken McCawley, Nursing Supervisor; (6) Sergeant Kennedy, a correctional officer; (7) John Doe #1, an unknown dentist; (8) John Doe #2, an unknown psychologist; and (9) John Doe #3, an unknown food service administrator. (Doc No. 1.)

         The gist of the complaint is that Crawford contends that he was not properly treated for numerous alleged medical ailments. Crawford also alleges that he was discriminated against on November 1, 2013 in retaliation for him being a Muslim by John Doe #3. Crawford also alleges that Sergeant Kennedy retaliated against him, but does not further elaborate as to why. Crawford's complaint alleges that he was confined at the Lackawanna County Prison from about April 2, 2013 through February 26, 2015, when he was transferred to Pike County Correctional Facility. (Doc. No. 1 at 4.) Crawford also provides that he attempted to litigate these claims previously but the same were dismissed. (Id.)

         The Court notes that in the previously litigated case, Crawford v. McMillan, et al, Civ. No. 1:14-CV-1936 (M.D. Pa. July 26, 2016), affirmed No. 16-3412 (3d Cir. Oct. 13, 2016), Crawford brought forth substantially the same claims against the same named Defendants as named in the present case. In that previous action filed on October 7, 2014, Crawford named as Defendants Edward Zaloga, D.O, Correctional Care, Inc., Anthony Iannuzzi, Ken McCawley (“Medical Defendants”), and Warden McMillan. This Court, by memorandum and Order dated June 7, 2016, dismissed the medical negligence claims and deliberate indifference claims against the Medical Defendants and Warden McMillan, but granted Crawford leave to amend only his deliberate indifference claim. Crawford attempted to amend the complaint, and in doing so, named new defendants including Sergeant Kennedy, and an unnamed dentist and psychologist. This Court, by memorandum and Order dated July 26, 2016, dismissed the amended complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted without further leave to amend as it related to the Medical Defendants and Warden McMillan. However, this Court provided that the new claims against Sergeant Kennedy and the unnamed psychologist and dentist were dismissed without prejudice to any right to file a new complaint.

         Crawford subsequently filed this substantially similar action naming the Medical Defendants and Warden McMillian that were dismissed from the previous action as well as Sergeant Kennedy and the unnamed psychologist and dentist who were dismissed without prejudice from the previous action. Crawford has moved to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. Nos. 2 and 7), which the Court will grant. Given that Crawford complains about prison conditions, the screening provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) apply.

         II. Legal Standard

         Pursuant 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.

         28 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).

         The 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).

         Once 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).

         III. Discussion

         A. ...


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