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Golson v. Harold

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

August 22, 2017

JAROD GOLSON, Plaintiff,
ZACK HAROLD, Defendants.



         Currently before the Court is a civil action filed by pro se Plaintiff, Jarod Golson, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. No. 1.) Upon review of the allegations within the amended complaint, the Court will dismiss the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and close this case.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff initiated this civil action by filing a complaint on April 4, 2017, naming as defendants two Lackawanna County detectives, Zach Harold and John Munly, a Lackawanna County Assistant District Attorney, Michael Ossont, and a Lackawanna County Magisterial District Judge, Terrence Gallagher. (Doc No. 1.) In his complaint, Plaintiff alleged that he was traveling with a friend to visit his god daughter, when his friend pulled-over into a hotel parking lot to meet another friend. (Id.) Plaintiff alleged that they were then “ambushed” by the defendant detectives along with the Scranton Police Department. (Id.)

         Plaintiff claimed that Magistrate Terrance Gallagher tried to convince Plaintiff's co-defendant in a related criminal case to retract testimony that would have purportedly exonerated Plaintiff from the criminal case. (Id. at 2 and 3.) Plaintiff claimed that Assistant District Attorney Michael Ossont told Magistrate Gallagher to charge Plaintiff with conspiracy even though the co-defendant stated that Plaintiff had nothing to do with the criminal acts. (Id. at 3.) Finally, Plaintiff claimed that the detectives incarcerated him knowing that Plaintiff did not have any drugs on him and falsely accused Plaintiff of being on a wiretap. (Id.)

         On June 8, 2017, pursuant to the screening provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (“PLRA”), the Court issued a Memorandum and Order dismissing Plaintiff's complaint and granting him leave to file an amended complaint. (Doc. Nos. 7, 8.) On August 8, 2017, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint. (Doc. No. 12.) Plaintiff has added two additional defendants to the amended complaint: District Magistrate Jasmine Corbett and the President Judge of Lackawanna County, Michael J. Barrasse. (Doc. No. 12.) Plaintiff's allegations remain essentially the same against the original four Defendants.

         In his amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he was wrongfully arrested by Defendants Zech and Munly. (Id.) Plaintiff further alleges that Assistant District Attorney Michael Ossont, Magistrate Judge Terrance Gallagher, Magistrate Judge Jasmine Corbett, President Judge Michael Barrasse, and Harold Zech all conspired against Plaintiff. (Id.) Plaintiff states that he has sent Judge Barrasse numerous letters but hasn't heard anything from Judge Barrasse. (Id.) It appears that Plaintiff has also filed a complaint against Judge Barrasse with the Judicial Conduct Board and provides that he is waiting to hear back from the Board. (Id.)

         II. Standard of Review

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court is obligated, prior to service of process, to screen a civil complaint in which a prisoner is seeking redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a); James v. Pa. Dep't of Corr., 230 F. App'x 195, 197 (3d Cir. 2007). The Court must dismiss the complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1); Mitchell v. Dodrill, 696 F.Supp.2d 454, 471 (M.D. Pa. 2010). The Court has a similar obligation with respect to actions brought in forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). In 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. Mitchell, 696 F.Supp.2d at 471.

         When 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 Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

         Accordingly, 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 omitted).

         In 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. 2004)).

         In 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).

         III. ...

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