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Peay v. Sager

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

March 2, 2018

STRATTON PEAY
v.
SAGER, et al.

          Barbara Rothstein District Judge.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Lisa Pupo Lenihan United States Magistrate Judge.

         I. RECOMMENDATION

         In this action, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, brings suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff complains that Defendants unconstitutionally agreed to and did commit several wrongful acts while Plaintiff was incarcerated at State Correctional Institution Forest (“SCI Forest”). Plaintiff's allegations center on Defendants' collective attempts to prevent Plaintiff from exposing the fact that a non-party, Detective Lubiejewski, framed Plaintiff for the crimes that resulted in his incarceration.

         All Defendants have moved to dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint. Defendant Zupsic has filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) [ECF No. 50]. The remaining Defendants (“DOC Defendants”) have filed a Motion to Dismiss, based on Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(e), 8(a), 10, and 20(a) [ECF No. 59]. Plaintiff, in turn, has filed a “Motion that Summary Judgment be Denied.” [ECF No. 70]. It is respectfully recommended that Defendants' Motions be granted and Plaintiff's denied, and Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint be dismissed without prejudice.

         II. REPORT

         A. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff's initial Complaint [ECF No. 3] named multiple Defendants, including psychologists, unit managers, corrections counselors, correctional officers, and other health and correctional personnel connected to SCI Forest.[1] The Complaint alleged that Defendants committed several wrongful acts in an effort to silence Plaintiff concerning Lubiejewski's wrongdoing. Defendants filed a Motion for a More Definite Statement [ECF No.21], which this Court granted by Order dated February 13, 2017 (“February 13 Order”). [ECF No. 23]. The Order, which directed Plaintiff to file an Amended Complaint by March 6, 2017, specified that Plaintiff must provide a description of how the defendants violated his rights, and explained that he must show that each defendant was personally involved in the alleged wrongdoing. Id. at p.

         2. Further, the Order stated as follows:

Plaintiff should note that, in civil rights cases, more than conclusory and vague allegations are required to state a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. §1983. Plaintiff should clearly describe how each named defendant is involved in the alleged constitution [sic] violations. This description should include references to relevant dates, times, and locations. It should explain to the Court what happened by specifically describing each defendant's behavior or action and how that behavior or action - or lack of action - resulted in the alleged violations….Plaintiff should be specific about the particulars of the event, each defendant's misconduct, and how such misconduct resulted in a violation or denial of the civil right at issue….Each incident should be identified as a separate count, and each count must include appropriate facts and evidence in support of the claims made in the count. Each incident must be clearly and specifically described; it should include the relevant time, date, and location. Each incident description also should clearly identify the relevant defendant and what that defendant's role was in the incident.

Id. at pp. 2-3 (emphases in original).

         The docket reflects no subsequent activity until April 7, 2017, when the Court issued an Order to Show Cause why the case should not be dismissed for failure to comply with the February 13 Order. [ECF No. 24]. On May 31, 2017, because Plaintiff did not respond to the Order to Show Cause, the Court issued a Report and Recommendation that the action be dismissed for failure to prosecute. [ECF No. 25]. Plaintiff then objected to the Report and Recommendation, stating that he had attempted to file an Amended Complaint and comply with the February 13 Order. [ECF No. 26]. Consequently, the Court afforded Plaintiff until July 5, 2017 to amend his pleading. [ECF No. 27]. Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint [ECF No. 29], and the Court withdrew the Report and Recommendation as moot. [ECF No. 30].

         The DOC Defendants moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint, arguing that it was indecipherable and failed to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, failed to identify how each Defendant was involved in the alleged wrongdoing, and violated joinder principles. [ECF Nos. 33, 34]. The Court issued an Order stating that if Plaintiff were to file a Second Amended Complaint, he should correct the deficiencies noted by Defendants, and comply with federal pleading requirements. [ECF No. 35]. In response, Plaintiff filed documents captioned “Addendum to Response, ” and “2nd Definitive Statement of Facts.” [ECF. Nos. 41, 43]. He then filed the now-pending Second Amended Complaint. [ECF No. 44], and the DOC Defendants' Motion to Dismiss was dismissed as moot. [ECF No. 47].

         According to the Second Amended Complaint, at the time of the incidents giving rise to this matter, Plaintiff was incarcerated at SCI Forest. He brings claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C.§ 1983, averring that Defendants, acting individually and in their official capacities, caused other inmates to physically attack him, conspired to have him transferred to a different facility and misdiagnosed with a mental illness, and misappropriated his funds, all in an attempt to cover up Lubiejewski's malfeasance. Specifically, Plaintiff contends that Lubiejewski framed him for the crimes resulting in Plaintiff's incarceration.

         Defendant Zupsic has filed a Motion to Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), arguing that the pleading fails to aver that she was individually involved in the alleged violations, and that Plaintiff has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. [ECF No. 45]. The Court apprised the parties that the exhaustion challenge would be considered pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, and directed Defendant to provide Plaintiff with all pertinent documents in her possession. [ECF No. 48]. The DOC Defendants have also filed a Motion to Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint, arguing that the pleading is too vague and disorganized to permit a meaningful response, violates joinder rules, and fails to properly plead a conspiracy claim. [ECF No. 60]. Plaintiff, in turn, has filed a “Motion that Summary Judgment be Denied, ” reiterating his allegations against Defendants. [ECF No. 70].

         B. LEGAL STANDARDS

         1. Rule 12(b)(6)

         Under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it does not allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court does not assess whether a plaintiff might prevail on the merits; instead, the court must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations and view them in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Papurello v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 144 F.Supp.3d 746, 760 (W.D. Pa. 2015).

         Our Court of Appeals has explained the applicable standard as follows:

A complaint may be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted"…."To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Although the plausibility standard "does not impose a probability requirement, " it does require a pleading to show "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." … The plausibility determination ...

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