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Reigle v. Kovach

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 15, 2017

WARDEN BRUCE KOVACH, et al., Defendants


          Christopher C. Conner, Chief Judge

         Plaintiff Nathan Joseph Reigle (“Reigle”) a former inmate housed at the Northumberland County Prison Coal Township Pennsylvania commenced this action pursuant to 42 USC § 1983[1] (Doc 1) Named as defendants are Warden Bruce Kovach Records Supervisor Mark Ferguson and Prison Board Members Robert Wolf Vinny Clausi Steven Bridy Richard Shoch Ann Targonski and Christopher Grayson (Id.) Before the court is defendants' motion (Doc 33) to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) For the reasons set forth below the motion will be granted and Reigle will be afforded the opportunity to file an amended complaint.

         I. Allegations of the Complaint

         Reigle alleges that defendant Kovach denied inmates access to the law library from April 21 2015 through July 16 2015 (Doc 1, p. 1, ¶ 1). He claims that this alleged denial hindered inmates' ability to file and receive legal documents. (Id.) Reigle further alleges that defendant Kovach oversees prison operations denying inmates outside fresh air and exercise. (Id. at p. 4, ¶ 2).

         Next, Reigle alleges that defendant Ferguson denied inmates their Post-Conviction Relief Act forms and sentencing orders from May 7, 2015 through July 15, 2015. (Id. at p. 4, ¶ 3).

         Lastly, Reigle states that defendants Wolfe, Clausi, Bridy, Shoch, Targonski, and Grayson, in their roles as Northumberland County board members, “oversee that prison policy and procedures are not violating inmates['] rights to access court, law library and exercise.” (Id. at pp. 3-4, ¶ 4).

         II. Standard of Review

         Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for the dismissal of complaints that fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When ruling on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must “accept as true all [factual] allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Kanter v. Barella, 489 F.3d 170, 177 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 350 (3d Cir. 2005)). Although the court is generally limited in its review to the facts contained in the complaint, it “may also consider matters of public record, orders, exhibits attached to the complaint and items appearing in the record of the case.” Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 n. 2 (3d Cir. 1994); see also In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997).

         Federal notice and pleading rules require the complaint to provide “the defendant notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To test the sufficiency of the complaint in the face of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court must conduct a three-step inquiry. See Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 130-31 (3d Cir. 2010). In the first step, “the court must 'tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim.'” Id. (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 675 (2009)). Next, the factual and legal elements of a claim should be separated; well-pleaded facts must be accepted as true, while mere legal conclusions may be disregarded. Id.; see also Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009). Once the well-pleaded factual allegations have been isolated, the court must determine whether they are sufficient to show a “plausible claim for relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556); Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (requiring plaintiffs to allege facts sufficient to “raise a right to relief above the speculative level”). 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 678.

         III. Discussion

         Section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code offers private citizens a cause of action for violations of federal law by state officials See 42 USC § 1983 The statute provides in pertinent part as follows:

Every person who under color of any statute ordinance regulation custom or usage of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia subjects or causes to be subjected any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights privileges or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law suit in equity or other proper proceeding for redress.....

Id; see also Gonzaga Univ v. Doe 536 U.S. 273 284-85 (2002); Kneipp v. Tedder, 95 F.3d 1199 1204 (3d Cir 1996) To state a claim under § 1983 a plaintiff must allege “the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42 48 (1988).

         A. ...

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