United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
H. RAMBO United States District Judge.
before the Court is a civil action filed by pro se
Plaintiff, Chad Flasher, on June 20, 2017, pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiff's complaint
consists of two pages and alleges verbal abuse against two
individually named Defendants: District Justice Michael J.
Smith and Police Officer Kevin J. Gallick. (Doc. No. 2.) As
Plaintiff has filed an application to proceed in forma
pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the Court
will engage in screening of Plaintiff's complaint
pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
Standard of Review
reviewing Plaintiff's Complaint, the Court is guided by
§ 1915(e)(2) of the PLRA which provides:
Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that
may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any
time if the court determines that (A) the allegation of
poverty is untrue; or (B) the action or appeal (i) is
frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which
relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against
a defendant who is immune from such relief.
performing this mandatory screening function, a district
court applies the same standard applied to motions to dismiss
under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
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 from them,
viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See
In re Ins. Brokerage Antitrust Litig., 618 F.3d 300, 314
(3d Cir. 2010). The Court's inquiry is guided by the
standards of Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662
(2009). Under Twombly and Iqbal, pleading
requirements have shifted to a “more heightened form of
pleading.” See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578
F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009). To prevent dismissal, all civil
complaints must set out “sufficient factual
matter” to show that the claim is facially plausible.
Id. The plausibility standard requires more than a
mere possibility that the defendant is liable for the alleged
misconduct. As the Supreme Court instructed in
Iqbal, “where 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 (citing
to determine the sufficiency of a complaint under
Twombly and Iqbal, the United States Court
of Appeals for the Third Circuit has identified the following
steps a district court must take when determining the
sufficiency of a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6): (1) identify
the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim; (2)
identify any conclusory allegations contained in the
complaint “not entitled” to the assumption of
truth; and (3) determine whether any “well-pleaded
factual allegations” contained in the complaint
“plausibly give rise to an entitlement to
relief.” See Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629
F.3d 121, 130 (3d Cir. 2010) (citation and quotation marks
ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim, “a court must consider only the
complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of
public record, as well as undisputedly authentic documents if
the complainant's claims are based upon these
documents.” Mayer v. Belichick, 605 F.3d 223,
230 (3d Cir. 2010) (citing Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v.
White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir.
1993)). A court may also consider “any ‘matters
incorporated by reference or integral to the claim, items
subject to judicial notice, matters of public record, orders,
[and] items appearing in the record of the case.'”
Buck v. Hampton Twp. Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260
(3d Cir. 2006) (quoting 5B Charles A. Wright & Arthur R.
Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 1357 (3d Ed.
conducting its screening review of a complaint, the court
must be mindful that a document filed pro se is
“to be liberally construed.” Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). A pro se
complaint, “however in artfully pleaded, ” must
be 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).
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).