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Lorenzano v. Reihart

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 23, 2017



          RICHARD P. CONABOY, United States District Judge


         Andre Lorenzano, an inmate presently confined at the State Correctional Institution, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania (SCI-Huntingdon) filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Plaintiff has also submitted an in forma pauperis application which will be granted for the sole purpose of the filing of this action with this Court.

         Named as sole Defendant in the rambling, at times repetitive complaint is Hallie Reihart, who is described as being an SCI-Huntingdon Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).[1]Lorenzano asserts that Reihart is often responsible for the distribution of medication to inmates and has an admitted history of filing false reports.[2] The Complaint adds that Plaintiff suffers from asthma for which he receives medication i including an inhaler.

         Plaintiff states that since arriving at SCI-Huntingdon in 2014 he has repeatedly had problems with the Defendant's "mouth disposition." Doc. 1, ¶ IV(1). After filing administrative complaints beginning in 2015 against Reihart, Lorenzano contends that the Defendant retaliated against him by making false statements and filing false reports, specifically two baseless misconduct charges. It is noted that here is no discernible claim that the prisoner was denied needed medical care by the Defendant.

         Lorenzano indicates that as a result of an initial falsified misconduct charge initiated by Reihart and a coworker, he was allegedly placed in the prison's Restricted Housing Unit (RHU) and spent thirty (30) days in disciplinary confinement. See id., p. 5. The Defendant filed a second misconduct charge against the Plaintiff which is described as being falsified and retaliatory. It is also vaguely alleged that Reihart subjected Lorenzano to verbal abuse. The Complaint seeks compensatory damages for emotional distress and injunctive relief.


         Standard of Review

         When considering a complaint accompanied by a motion to proceed in forma pauperis, a district court may rule that i process should not issue if the complaint is malicious, presents an indisputably meritless legal theory, or is predicated on clearly baseless factual contentions. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989), Douris v. Middleton Township, 293 Fed.Appx. 130, 132 (3d Cir. 2008}. Indisputably meritless legal theories are those "in which either it is readily apparent that the plaintiff's complaint lacks an arguable basis in law or that the defendants are clearly entitled to immunity from suit ... ." Roman v. Jeffes, 904 F.2d 192, 194 (3d Cir. 1990) (quoting Sultenfuss v. Snow, 894 F.2d 1277, 1278 (11th Cir. 1990)).

         In order to state a viable civil rights claim a plaintiff must make a showing that the conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under color of law and that said conduct deprived him of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or by a statute of the United States. Cohen v. City of Philadelphia, 736 F.2d 81, 83 (3d Cir. 1984). Each named defendant must be shown, via the complaint's allegations, to have been personally involved in the events or occurrences which underlie those claims set forth in the Complaint. Rode v. Dellarciprete, 845 F.2d 1195, 1207 (3d Cir. 1988).[3]

         Although pro se litigants are afforded liberal treatment, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), based upon the deficiencies outlined herein the Complaint is subject to dismissal.

         Emotional Injury

         Lorenzano's complaint asserts in part that he is seeking an award of monetary damages for emotional distress. See Doc. 1, SI V. For the reasons outlined below, Lorenzano is not entitled to recover compensatory damages for mental anguish or emotional injury.

         42 U.S.C. § l997e(e) provides that "[n]o federal civil action may be brought by a prisoner confined in a jail, prison or other correctional facility, for mental or emotional injury suffered while in custody without a prior showing of physical injury." In Allah v. Al-Hafeez, 226 F.3d 247, 250 (3d Cir. 2000), the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recognized that where a plaintiff fails to allege actual injury, Section l997e(e) bars recovery of compensatory damages. However, the Court of Appeals added that an inmate alleging a violation of his constitutional rights may still pursue the action to recover nominal and/or punitive damages even in the absence of compensable harm. Under the standards announced in Allah ...

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