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Mutschler v. Corby

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

September 6, 2017

TONY MUTSCHLER, Plaintiff,
v.
CORRECTIONAL OFFICER CORBY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Matthew W. Brann, United States District Judge

         I. BACKGROUND

         Tony Mutschler an inmate presently confined at the State Correctional Institution, Coal Township, Pennsylvania (SCI-Coal Twp.) filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] As a result of prior Memoranda and Orders entered in this matter, the claims against Defendants Captain Downs, Superintendent Tritt, and Deputy Superintendent Miller were dismissed.

         Remaining Defendants are Correctional Officer Kevin Corby and two John Doe Defendants who are all employed at Plaintiff's prior place of incarceration the State Correctional Institution, Frackville, Pennsylvania (SCI-Frackville).[2]

         Plaintiff contends that Defendant Corby subjected him to an unwarranted use of excessive force in the SCI-Frackville Restricted Housing Unit (RHU) during the evening of July 28, 2014. It is alleged that following a verbal exchange Corby grabbed the Plaintiff by the neck and shoved him backward against the wall of a shower stall. As a result of hitting his head against the wall, Mutschler claims that he was rendered unconscious, fell to the floor, and suffered a mild seizure. See Doc. 1, p. 3. It is further asserted that a second official, Lieutenant John Doe, failed to intervene and that Correctional Officer John Doe had minor involvement in the incident.

         Presently pending is a motion to dismiss filed by Defendant Corby. See Doc. 25. The opposed motion is now ripe for consideration.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of complaints that fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. 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 therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Kanter v. Barella, 489 F.3d 170, 177 (3d Cir. 2007)(quoting Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 350 (3d Cir. 2005)).

         A plaintiff must present facts that, if true, demonstrate a plausible right to relief. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(stating that the complaint should include “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief”); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). This requirement “calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of” the necessary elements of the plaintiff's cause of action. Id. at 556. A complaint must contain “more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice.” Id. Legal conclusions must be supported by factual allegations and the complaint must state a plausible claim for relief. See Id. at 679.

         “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The reviewing court must determine whether the complaint “contain[s] either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements necessary to sustain recovery under some viable legal theory.” Id. at 562; see also Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008)(in order to survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must allege in his complaint “enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element[s]” of a particular cause of action). Finally, pro se pleadings are to be construed liberally, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).

         B. John Doe Defendants

         The initial argument for dismissal asserts that the John Doe Defendants named in the Complaint should be dismissed as they have not been identified and the time period for so doing has expired. See Doc. 26, p.4.

         John Doe defendants may only be allowed “to stand in for the alleged real parties until discovery permits the intended defendants to be installed.” Johnson v. City of Erie, 834 F.Supp. 873, 878 (W.D. Pa. 1993) (citations omitted). Absent compelling reasons, a district court may dismiss such defendants if a plaintiff, after being granted a reasonable period of discovery, fails to identify them. Scheetz v. Morning Call, Inc.,130 F.R.D. ...


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