United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
C. Carlson United States Magistrate Judge
Statement of Facts and of the Case
case comes before us for a legally-mandated screening review.
The plaintiff, Nathaniel Hill, is an inmate at the Lycoming
County Prison. In this pro se complaint, Hill sues
two Pennsylvania State Troopers. Hill's complaint
contains a spare factual recital which states that Hill
“was being chase [sic] on foot by one officer and he
couldn't catch me so Trooper Shrawder hit me with his PSP
vehicle.” (Doc. 1.) According to Hill, “[a]fter
being hit with the vehicle I tried to get back up and Trooper
Tyson Havens kicked me in the chest.” (Id.)
basis of this straightforward factual narrative, Hill sues
the two trooper seeking both damages and an order directing
that the defendants be fired. (Id.) However, notably
missing from the complaint is any indication regarding when
or where these events allegedly took place.
with his complaint, Hill has filed a motion for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 2.) For the reasons
set forth below we will GRANT Hill's motion for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis, but recommend that this
complaint be dismissed without prejudice to Hill filing an
amended complaint which recites when and where this conduct
is alleged to have occurred, matters that are material to an
informed understanding of whether Hill may maintain this
lawsuit in federal court.
Screening of Pro Se In Forma Pauperis
Court has an on-going statutory obligation to conduct a
preliminary review of pro se complaints brought by
plaintiffs given leave to proceed in forma pauperis
in cases which seek redress against government officials.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).
Specifically, the Court must assess whether a pro se
complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, since Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure provides that a complaint should be dismissed for
"failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In addition, when
reviewing in forma pauperis complaints, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) specifically enjoins us to
"dismiss the complaint at any time if the court
determines that . . . the action . . . fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted. This statutory text mirrors
the language of Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, which provides that a complaint should be
dismissed for "failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
respect to this benchmark standard for legal sufficiency of a
complaint, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third
Circuit has aptly noted the evolving standards governing
pleading practice in federal court, stating that:
Standards of pleading have been in the forefront of
jurisprudence in recent years. Beginning with the Supreme
Court's opinion in Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) continuing with our opinion
in Phillips [v. County of Allegheny, 515
F.3d 224, 230 (3d Cir. 2008)]and culminating recently with
the Supreme Court's decision in Ashcroft v.
Iqbal BU.S.B, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009) pleading standards
have seemingly shifted from simple notice pleading to a more
heightened form of pleading, requiring a p[arty] to plead
more than the possibility of relief to survive a motion to
Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 209-10 (3d
considering whether a complaint fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, the Court must accept as true
all allegations in the complaint and all reasonable
inferences that can be drawn from the complaint are to be
construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Jordan v. Fox Rothschild, O=Brien & Frankel,
Inc., 20 F.3d 1250, 1261 (3d Cir. 1994). However, a
court "need not credit a complaint's bald assertions
or legal conclusions when deciding a motion to dismiss."
Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906
(3d Cir. 1997). Additionally a court need not "assume
that a ... p[arty] can prove facts that the
... p[arty] has not alleged." Associated
Gen. Contractors of Cal. v. California State Council of
Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983). As the Supreme
Court held in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544 (2007), in order to state a valid cause of action a
party must provide some factual grounds for relief which
"requires more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of actions
will not do." Id. at 555. "Factual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level." Id.
keeping with the principles of Twombly, the Supreme
Court has underscored that a trial court must assess whether
a complaint states facts upon which relief can be granted
when ruling on a motion to dismiss. In Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), the Supreme Court held that,
when considering a motion to dismiss, a court should
"begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are
no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption
of truth." Id. at 679. According to the Supreme
Court, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause
of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do ...