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Walker v. Ebbert

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

September 18, 2017

CEDRIC TYRONE WALKER, Plaintiff
v.
WARDEN DAVID J. EBBERT, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          SYLVIA H. RAMBO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Presently before the Court for disposition is Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's amended complaint. (Doc. No. 20.) For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion will be granted.

         I. Background

         On December 1, 2017, pro se Plaintiff Cedric Tyrone Walker, an inmate formerly housed in the Special Management Unit at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania (“USP-Lewisburg”), filed this civil rights action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (Doc. No. 1.) Named as Defendants were eight Federal Bureau of Prisons' employees: Warden David J. Ebbert, Lieutenant Jason Seeba, and Correctional Officers C. Hughs, M. Hess, J. Klose, B Melek, B. Mottern, and A. Simmons. (Id.) Plaintiff alleged that his Eighth Amendment rights were violated when he was placed in restraints on May 1, 2015 through May 10, 2015. (Id.) He alleged that the restraints were so tight that they cut off his circulation and caused wounds on his wrists, for which he was denied medical care. (Id.) He also claimed that he was denied food, water, and use of the bathroom. (Id.)

         On January 30, 2017, Plaintiff filed an amended Complaint. (Doc. No. 10). In the amended complaint, Plaintiff identifies only four Federal Bureau of Prisons' employees: Warden David J. Ebbert, retired BOP Director Charles E. Samuels, Regional Physician Dr. Kevin Pigos, and Senior Officer Adam Simmonds. (Id.) Plaintiff's amended complaint re-alleges the Eighth Amendment claim but adds claims that staff falsified incident reports against him while he was in restraints and that he was denied due process during his disciplinary proceedings. (Id.)

         On May 2, 2017, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss (Doc. No. 20) and a brief in support. (Doc. No. 21.) On June 6, 2017, Plaintiff filed a brief in opposition (Doc. No. 25), arguing that the Court should grant a default judgment in his favor for Defendants' failure to answer his amended complaint. On July 5, 2017, Plaintiff filed a document that was docketed as a memorandum of law (Doc. No. 34), in which he argues that his complaint states a claim under the Eighth Amendment because he suffers significant and recurrent pain from headaches. (Id.)[1]

         II. Legal Standard

         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 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. Discussion

         Defendants argue that Plaintiff's amended complaint should be dismissed for failure to allege sufficient personal involvement on the part of any of the Defendants and that Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), bars Plaintiff's due process claims.

         A. Personal ...


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