United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
H. RAMBO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Brian Gordon, an inmate currently confined at the State
Correctional Institution - Rockview, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
(“SCI-Rockview”), filed this civil action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on November 22, 2017. (Doc.
No. 4.) The Defendants named in the complaint are M. Houser,
G. McMahon, C.O. Woodhouse, the DOC State of Pennsylvania,
and SCI-Rockview. Pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform
Act of 1995 (“PLRA”), the Court will perform the
following screening of the complaint prior to service of
alleges that while housed at SCI-Rockview, Correctional
Officer Defendant Woodhouse and Correctional Officer
Narehood escorted Plaintiff from his cell to a
hearing examiner's office. (Doc. No. 4 at 3.) Once inside
the office, Plaintiff alleges that C.O. Narehood slammed
Plaintiff to the ground and then C.O. Woodhouse reached in
between Plaintiff's legs, grabbed his testicles and
squeezed and twisted them. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges
that despite submitting grievances and contacting G. McMahon
and M. Houser, and expressing his desire to press charges
against C.O. Defendant Woodhouse, he has been ignored.
(Id.) Plaintiff alleges that as a result of the
assault, his testicles swelled up and are still
“mangled” and he was given a “pain killer
shot” and prescribed antibiotics. (Id.)
Standard of Review
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.
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
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
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.
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).
Section 1983 Standard
order to state a viable § 1983 claim, the plaintiff must
plead two essential elements: 1) that the conduct complained
of was committed by a person acting under color of state 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. Natale v. Camden Cnty. Corr.
Facility, 318 F.3d 575, 580-81 (3d Cir. 2003). Further,
§ 1983 is not a source of substantive rights. Rather, it
is a means to redress violations of federal law by state
actors. Gonzaga Univ. v. Doe, 536 U.S. 273, 284-85
in addressing whether a viable claim has been stated against
a defendant, the court must assess whether the plaintiff has
sufficiently alleged that the defendant was personally
involved in the act which the plaintiff claims violated his
rights. Rode v. Dellarciprete, 845 F.2d 1195, 1207
(3d Cir. 1988). Liability may not be imposed under §
1983 on the traditional standards of respondeat
superior. Capone v. Marinelli, 868 F.2d 102,
106 (3d Cir. 1989) (citing Hampton v. Holmesburg Prison
Officials, 546 F.2d 1077, 1082 (3d Cir. 1976)). Instead,
“supervisory personnel are only liable for the §
1983 violations of their subordinates if they knew of,
participated in or acquiesced in such conduct.”
Capone, 868 F.2d at 106 n.7.
are only two avenues for supervisory liability: (1) if the
supervisor “knew of, participated in or acquiesced
in” the harmful conduct; and (2) if a supervisor
established and maintained a policy, custom, or practice
which directly caused the constitutional harm. Id.;
Santiago, 629 F.3d at 129; A.M. ex rel. J.M.K.
v. Luzerne Cnty. Juvenile Ctr., 372 F.3d 572, 586 (3d
Cir. 2004). As it concerns the second ...