United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
PAUL F. MITCHELL, Plaintiff,
PATRICK QUINN, et al., Defendants.
Mitchell, a State prisoner currently incarcerated at SCI
Huntington, filed this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against various defendants including police
officers, prison employees and officials, and other
individuals who had varying degrees of involvement in his
state criminal case. By Order entered on August 29, 2017, the
Court granted Mitchell leave to proceed in forma
pauperis, dismissed his initial Complaint pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e), and provided leave to file an amended
complaint within thirty (30) days. (ECF No. 4.) Subsequently,
Mitchell filed numerous documents, some of which were
entitled "Amended Complaint, " including copies of
prison grievances and his correspondence with various
municipal and state agencies. (ECF Nos. 5 through 15.) By
Memorandum and Order entered on October 11, 2017, the Court
treated those documents as Mitchell's single Amended
Complaint, dismissed the Amended Complaint, and provided
Mitchell another opportunity to amend. (ECF Nos. 16, 17.)
rather than filing a single document as his Second Amended
Complaint, Mitchell has submitted numerous documents and
exhibits, two of which are entitled "Amended Complaint,
" in piecemeal fashion. (ECF Nos. 18, 19, 20, 21, 24,
25.) The Court previously advised Mitchell that "by
presenting his claims in this manner, [Mitchell] has made it
difficult to understand the basis of his lawsuit and the
nature of his claims against each defendant." (ECF No.
16 at 4.) Nevertheless, the Court will treat Mitchell's
newest submissions as a single Second Amended Complaint and
will dismiss the Second Amended Complaint.
was arrested on June 16, 2015. A review of the docket from
his criminal proceeding reflects that Mitchell was convicted
of unlawful sexual contact with a minor, assault, and
criminal trespass in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas,
and was sentenced to seventeen (17) to forty (40) months in
prison. See Commonwealth v. Mitchell, Docket No.
CP-51-CR-0008193-2015 (Phila. Ct. Common Pleas).
Mitchell's appeal is pending before the Superior Court of
Pennsylvania. See Commonwealth v. Mitchell, Docket
No. 2787 EDA 2016 (Pa. Super. Ct.). As noted above, Mitchell
is currently incarcerated at SCI Huntington, where he is
participating in the sex offender program. In his Second
Amended Complaint, Mitchell again raises claims concerning
the constitutionality of his arrest, conviction, and
imprisonment. He seeks unspecified declaratory and injunctive
relief, as well as damages.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court previously informed Mitchell, Rule 8(a) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure requires a complaint to contain
"a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief." A district court may
sua sponte dismiss a complaint that does not comply
with Rule 8 if "the complaint is so confused, ambiguous,
vague, or otherwise unintelligible that its true substance,
if any, is well disguised." Simmons v. Abruzzo,
49 F.3d 83, 86 (2d Cir. 1995) (quotations omitted).
because the Court previously granted Mitchell leave to
proceed in forma pauperis, 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) applies. That statute requires the Court to
dismiss the complaint if it fails to state a claim. Whether a
complaint fails to state a claim under §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard applicable
to motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6), see Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236,
240 (3d Cir. 1999), which requires the Court to determine
whether the complaint contains "sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quotations omitted). Conclusory
statements and naked assertions will not suffice.
Id. The Court may also dismiss claims based on an
affirmative defense if the affirmative defense is obvious
from the face of the complaint. See Ray v. Kertes,
285 F.3d 287, 297 (3d Cir. 2002); see also McPherson v.
United States, 392 Fed.Appx. 938, 943 (3d Cir. 2010).
The Court may also consider matters of public record.
Buck v. Hampton Twp. Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260
(3d Cir. 2006). As Mitchell is proceeding pro se,
the Court construes his allegations liberally. Higgs v.
Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).
Continued Failure to Comply with Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 8 and 10
the course of approximately six (6) weeks, Mitchell submitted
six documents which he relies upon to set forth his claims.
Although the Court has treated those documents collectively
as Mitchell's Second Amended Complaint in light of his
pro se status, Mitchell's filings again do not
comply with Rules 8 and 10 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. As the Court previously informed Mitchell, the
purpose of these rules is to make clear to the Court and the
defendants the factual basis for a plaintiffs claims so that
the defendants can meaningfully respond to those claims.
See, e.g., Fabian v. St. Mary's Med. Ctr., No.
Civ.A. 16-4741, 2017 WL 3494219, at *3 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 11,
2017) ("Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 requires that
pleadings provide enough information to put a defendant on
sufficient notice to prepare their defense and also ensure
that the Court is sufficiently informed to determine the
issue.") (quotations omitted); Young v. Centerville
Clinic, Inc., No. Civ.A. 09-325, 2009 WL 4722820, at *3
(W.D. Pa. Dec. 2, 2009) ("The purpose of Rule 10 is to
create clarity in pleadings, which allows a defendant and the
Court to determine whether there are sufficient facts to
support a claim entitling a plaintiff to relief"). To
conform to Rule 8, a pleading must contain a short and plain
statement showing that the plaintiff is entitled to relief.
See Travaline v. U.S. Supreme Court, 424 Fed.Appx.
78, 79 (3d Cir. 2011) ("Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure requires that a complaint contain 'a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief, ' and 'a demand for
the relief sought.'") (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2),
(3)); see also Id. ("Each averment must be
'simple, concise, and direct.'") (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(d)(1)). "This standard operates in tandem
with that of Rule 10, " which requires that a pleading
contain a caption with the Court's name and the names of
the parties, and that claims be listed in numbered
paragraphs. Fabian, 2017 WL 3494219, at *3 (citing
again, rather than raising his allegations in a pleading with
a caption and numbered paragraphs that conforms with the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Mitchell has submitted
several documents and exhibits in piecemeal fashion. This
means that he has once again made it difficult to understand
the basis for his lawsuit and the nature of his claims
against each defendant. No defendant could be expected to
meaningfully respond to Mitchell's filings without having
to guess at his claims. Although the Second Amended Complaint
could be dismissed on that basis alone, the Court has done
its best to understand the gist of Mitchell's allegations
and will address his claims below.
Claims Against the Arresting Officers
has again named Officers Patrick Quinn, Gerald Rahill, and
Thomas Martinka as defendants, and also names Officer Maureen
Carroll for the first time in his Second Amended Complaint.
Throughout his Second Amended Complaint, Mitchell appears to
assert that these officers wrongfully or falsely arrested
him. As the Court previously informed Mitchell, however, any
claims based upon his arrest are time-barred. (ECF No. 16 at