United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
William I. Arbuckle U.S. Magistrate Judge.
J. Robinson has filed a pro se complaint alleging
that his civil rights were violated by Children & Youth
Services of Northumberland County, twelve employees of that
agency, along with one of his daughter's and her mother.
In his complaint he alleges that CYS workers and the
girl's mother conspired to encourage his daughter to
provoke a fight with him so CYS could intervene and place the
girl with her mother. He also alleges that a second daughter
faked an injury and while at the hospital told him that she
hopes that her hand/wrist is hurt so “we can get you in
trouble.” He goes on further to state that the
girl's mother has “been victimizing me for years,
she is poisoning my children against me, I've complained
to everyone I need something done about this. I want to press
charges against (the girl's mother) for any and all
crimes that she has perpetrated against me.” He asserts
that when he complained to CYS about the attempt to frame him
for abusing his children “…all I got was 2
letters saying I was cleared of any wrong doing. Everybody
was aware of my harm, but no assistance was ever rendered to
me.” Finally, he alleges that his “ex”
(they were “together” for 15 years but never
married) posted a screed on Facebook claiming that
“Mike Robinson is a woman beater” and that
“he is under investigation by CYS because he molests
his daughter, does not work for Donald Trump, impersonates a
federal agent, and should not be mayor.” The posting
also claims that this letter was sent to all 1346 registered
voters in Shamokin and was “Paid for by the Committee
Against Domestic Violence and Child Molestors.” (Doc.
with this complaint, Robinson has filed a motion for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 2.) We will GRANT
this motion, but for the reasons set forth below, we
recommend that the complaint be dismissed.
Screening of Pro Se Complaints-Standard of
been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis,
Plaintiff is subject to the screening provisions in 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e). See Atamain v. Burns, 236 F.
App'x 753, 755 (3d Cir. 2007)(“the screening
procedures set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) apply to
in forma pauperis complaints filed by prisoners and
Court has a statutory obligation to conduct a preliminary
review of pro se complaints brought by litigants
given leave to proceed in forma pauperis.
Specifically, we are obliged to review the complaint in
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), which provides,
in pertinent part:
(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;
(iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune
from such relief.
performing this mandatory screening function, the Court
applies the same standard that is used to evaluate motions to
dismiss under 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). The
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has
observed the evolving standards governing pleading practice
in the federal courts, stating that “pleading standards
have seemingly shifted from simple notice pleading to a more
heightened form of pleading, requiring a plaintiff to plead
more than the possibility of relief to survive a motion to
dismiss.” Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d
203, 209-10 (3d Cir. 2009). “[A] complaint must do more
than allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief.”
Id. at 211. It also “has to ‘show'
such an entitlement with its facts.” Id. To
test the sufficiency of the complaint under Rule 12(b)(6),
the court must conduct the following three-step inquiry:
First, the court must “tak[e] note of the elements a
plaintiff must plead to state a claim.” Iqbal,
129 S.Ct. at 1947. Second, the court should identify
allegations that, “because they are no more than
conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of
truth.” Id. at 1950. Finally, “where
there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should
assume their veracity and then determine whether they
plausibly give rise to an entitlement for relief.”
Santiago v. Warminster Tp., 629 F.3d 121, 130 (3d
complaint filed by a pro se litigant is to be
liberally construed and ‘“however inartfully
pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers.'” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)(quoting Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). Nevertheless,
“pro se litigants still must allege sufficient facts in
their complaints to support a claim.” Mala v. Crown
Bay Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013).
Thus, a well-pleaded complaint must contain more than mere
legal labels and conclusions. Rather, a pro se
complaint must recite factual allegations that are sufficient
to raise the Plaintiff's claimed right to relief beyond
the level of mere speculation, set forth in a “short
and plain” statement of a cause of action.
well-pleaded complaint must contain more than mere legal
labels and conclusions. Rather, a pro se
plaintiff's complaint must recite factual allegations
which are sufficient to raise the plaintiff's claimed
right to relief beyond the level of mere speculation, ...