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Molcon v. Prison

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

July 17, 2017



          Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Michael Molcon, an inmate confined at the Lackawanna County Prison, Scranton, Pennsylvania initiated this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Along with his complaint, Molcon submitted an in forma pauperis application. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's action will be dismissed, without prejudice, as legally frivolous pursuant to the screening provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915.

         Named as Defendants are the State Correctional Institution, Graterford, Pennsylvania (SCI-Graterford), two prison employees Correctional Officer Natal, Lieutenant Judge, and ten (10) SCI-Graterford inmates. Plaintiff is also proceeding against the State Correctional Institution, Frackville, Pennsylvania (SCI-Frackville) and six(6) prisoners confined at that facility. Other Defendants include Warden Mickey Ameigh of the Wyoming County Prison, Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania; Mike Sillip, who is vaguely described as being a staff member of Saint Michael's School in Wyoming County; and Jerry Pitkus, an employee of Wyoming County Children and Youth.

         Plaintiff states that he has been sexually assaulted and abused since his childhood. His initial claim contends that he was assaulted by another boy when he was a child at Saint Michael's School for Boys in Wyoming County and Defendant Pitkus failed to take any action. This alleged attack apparently transpired at some point prior to 1993.

         The Complaint next asserts that while in state prison between 1993-2002 Molcon was repeatedly raped by other prisoners. Plaintiff further avers that when he later returned to county prison he was raped by another prisoner. Finally, Plaintiff vaguely asserts that he was raped by several people at SCI-Graterford between 2007-2016. The complaint seeks compensatory damages and injunctive relief.


         Title 28 U.S.C. § 1915 imposes obligations on prisoners who file civil actions in federal court and wish to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915, e.g., that the full filing fee ultimately must be paid (at least in a non-habeas suit) § 1915(e)(2)provides:

(2) 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.

         When considering a complaint accompanied by a motion to proceed in forma pauperis, a district court may rule that process should not be issued 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); Wilson v. Rackmill, 878 F.2d 772, 774 (3d Cir. 1989). 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)).

         The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has added that “the plain meaning of ‘frivolous' authorizes the dismissal of in forma pauperis claims that . . . are of little or no weight, value, or importance, not worthy of serious consideration, or trivial.” Deutsch v. United States, 67 F.3d 1080, 1083 (3d Cir. 1995). It also has been determined that “the frivolousness determination is a discretionary one, ” and trial courts “are in the best position” to determine when an indigent litigant's complaint is appropriate for summary dismissal. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992).

         A. SCI-Graterford and SCI-Frackville

         The United States Supreme Court has ruled that a § 1983 action brought against a “State and its Board of Corrections is barred by the Eleventh Amendment unless [the State] has consented to the filing of such a suit.” Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 782 (1978). The Third Circuit similarly concluded that the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole could not be sued because “it is not a ‘person' within the meaning of Section 1983.” Thompson v. Burke, 556 F.2d 231, 232 (3d Cir. 1977).

         Courts have also repeatedly recognized that a prison or correctional facility is not a person for purposes of civil rights liability. See Fischer v. Cahill, 474 F.2d 991, 992 (3d Cir. 1973); Philogene v. Adams County Prison, Civ. No. 97-0043, slip op. at p. 4 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 30, 1997) (Rambo, C.J.); Sponsl ...

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