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, Frankie Thomas, on May 26, 2017, pursuant to
Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau
of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1977). (Doc. No. 1.)
Plaintiff is currently housed at the Federal Correctional
Institute, Cumberland, Maryland. Plaintiff's allegations
are against Defendant R. Frasch, a counselor at the United
States Penitentiary at Canaan, Pennsylvania
(“USP-Canaan”). Plaintiff alleges, inter
alia, that the District Court impermissibly delegated to
the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) its duty to set the
manner and schedule of restitution payments during
Plaintiff's imprisonment in violation of the Mandatory
Victim Restitution Act of 1996 (“MVRA”), 18
U.S.C. § 3664(f). (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff also
alleges that Defendant Frasch unlawfully removed monetary
funds from Plaintiff's institution account and coerced
Plaintiff to sign-up for the BOP's Inmate Financial
Responsibility Program (“IFRP”). (Id. at
7.) Plaintiff alleges that although the IFRP is voluntary, if
he does not agree to participate in it, then he will be
placed in “Refusal Status” and sanctioned.
(Id. at 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 inartfully 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).
Bivens action, which is the federal equivalent of
the § 1983 cause of action against state actors, will
lie where the defendant has violated the plaintiff's
rights under color of federal law.” Brown v. Philip
Morris Inc., 250 F.3d 789, 800 (3d Cir. 2001).
Bivens creates no substantive rights, but rather
allows “a citizen suffering a compensable injury to a
constitutionally protected interest [to] invoke the general
federal-question jurisdiction of the district court to obtain
an award of monetary damages against the responsible federal
official.” . . . To state a claim under
Bivens, the plaintiff must show that the defendant,
acting under color of ...