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Williamson v. Garman

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 22, 2017



          Robert D. Mariani United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Sharif Williamson ("Plaintiff'), an inmate currently confined at the Rockview State Correctional Institution, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Rockview"), commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1). The matter is proceeding via a second amended complaint. (Doc. 35). Named as Defendants are the following employees of SCI-Rockview: Mark Garman, Superintendent; Nathan Lehman, Lieutenant; and Officers Clark, Leidhecker, Myers, Phillips, Tubbs, Weaver, and Intallura, (collectively, "Corrections Defendants"). (Id. at pp. 2-4).

         Presently pending before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Doc. 36). Despite being directed to file a brief in opposition to Defendants' motion to dismiss (Doc. 32, ¶ 5), Plaintiff failed to respond to the motion and the time for responding has now passed.[1] In the absence of any timely response by Plaintiff, the motion is deemed ripe for resolution. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant the motion to dismiss.

         I. Standard of Review

         A complaint must be dismissed under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), if it does not allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." BellAtl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). The plaintiff must aver "factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. (qbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009).

         "Though a complaint 'does not need detailed factual allegations, ... a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" DelRio-Mocci v. Connolly Prop. Inc., 672 F.3d 241, 245 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). In other words, "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Covington v. Int'lAss'n of Approved Basketball Officials, 710 F.3d 114, 118 (3d Cir. 2013) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). A court "take[s] as true all the factual allegations in the Complaint and the reasonable inferences that can be drawn from those facts, but... disregard[s] legal conclusions and threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements." Ethypharm S.A. France v. Abbott Laboratories, 707 F.3d 223, 231, n. 14 (3d Cir. 2013) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).

         Twombly and Iqbal require [a district court] to take the following three steps to determine the sufficiency of a complaint: First, the court must take note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim. Second, the court should identify allegations that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Finally, 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. Conneily v. Steel Valley Sch. D/sf., 706 F.3d 209, 212 (3d Cir. 2013).

         "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not show[n] - that the pleader is entitled to relief." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). This "plausibility" determination will be a "context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id.

         However, even "if a complaint is subject to Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal, a district court must permit a curative amendment unless such an amendment would be inequitable or futile." Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 245 (3d Cir. 2008).

[E]ven when plaintiff does not seek leave to amend his complaint after a defendant moves to dismiss it, unless the district court finds that amendment would be inequitable or futile, the court must inform the plaintiff that he or she has leave to amend the complaint within a set period of time.


         II. Allegations of the Second Amended Complaint [2]

         Plaintiff alleges that, on June 8, 2015, he was transferred to the restricted housing unit (''RHUB'') at SCI-Rockview and subjected to a strip search. (Doc. 35, p. 3). Upon arrival to the RHU, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Lehman directed eight officers to place him on the floor, (/of.). He claims that the officers cut off his clothes, placed their weight on his body, spread his buttocks apart, and visually inspected his body. (Id.). Plaintiff asserts that the search was conducted in an unprofessional and illegal manner, and belittled him. (Id. at P-5).

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Lehman did not comply with the Department of Corrections policy for strip searches as set forth in Department of Corrections Administrative Directive 203 ("DC-ADM 203")[3], by failing to ask Plaintiff to submit to the strip search. (Id.).

         Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant Garman is legally responsible for the operation of the prison. (Id.).

         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 U.S.C. § 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 ...

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