United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge
Felts, an inmate confined at the State Correctional
Institution, Frackville, Pennsylvania (SCI-Frackville)
initiated this pro se civil rights action pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Along with his complaint, Felts
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.
as Defendants are three SCI-Frackville employees,
Superintendent Brenda Tritt as well as Deputy Superintendents
Anthony Kovalchik and George Miller. The complaint solely
contends that “[t]he defendants, each of them, made a
concerted decision to release a known dangerous prisoner,
with a well documented assaultive history, into general
population resulting in Plaintiff being assaulted.”
Doc. 1, ¶ IV. As relief, Plaintiff seeks nominal,
compensatory and punitive damages.
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) §
(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.
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)).
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).
plaintiff, in order to state an actionable civil rights
claim, must plead two essential elements: (1) that the
conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under
color of law, and (2) that said conduct deprived the
plaintiff of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the
Constitution or laws of the United States. Groman v.
Township of Manalapan, 47 F.3d 628, 638 (3d Cir. 1995);
Shaw by Strain v. Strackhouse, 920 F.2d 1135,
1141-42 (3d Cir. 1990).
rights claims cannot be premised on a theory of
respondeat superior. Rode v. Dellarciprete,
845 F.2d 1195, 1207 (3d Cir. 1988). Rather, each named
defendant must be shown, via the complaint's allegations,
to have been personally involved in the events or occurrences
which underlie a claim. See Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S.
362 (1976); Hampton v. Holmesburg Prison Officials,
546 F.2d 1077 (3d Cir. 1976). As explained in Rode:
A defendant in a civil rights action must have personal
involvement in the alleged wrongs. . . . [P]ersonal
involvement can be shown through allegations of personal
direction or of actual knowledge and acquiescence.
Allegations of participation or actual knowledge and