United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
M. MUNLEY, United States District Judge
pro se plaintiff, Steven Margetta
(“Plaintiff” or “Margetta”), a state
inmate housed at the Benner Township State Correctional
Institution (“SCI-Benner”), in Bellefonte,
Pennsylvania, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action
alleging that Defendants removed him from his prison job as a
library worker in violation of his Fourteenth Amendment equal
protection rights. (Doc. 9, Am. Compl.) Plaintiff names the
following Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC)
employees assigned to SCI-Benner: Mr. Ramirez, Director of
Education; Mr. Garmen, Director of Inmate Employment; Mr.
Hamor, C-Block Unit Manager; and Mr. Gummo, Inmate Counselor.
(Id.) Presently before the Court is Defendants'
motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint due to
Plaintiff's failure to state a claim. (Doc. 21,
Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss). For the reasons that follow,
Defendants' motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint will
be granted with prejudice.
Motion to Dismiss Standard of Review
motion to dismiss, “[w]e ‘accept all factual
allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any
reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be
entitled to relief.'” Byers v. Intuit,
Inc., 600 F.3d 286, 291 (3d Cir. 2010) (quoted case
omitted). In resolving a motion to dismiss pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a court can consider the allegations
of the complaint as well as any “documents that are
attached to or submitted with the complaint, . . . 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) (brackets in original).
other requirements, a sound complaint must set forth “a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).
This statement must “give the defendant fair notice of
what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)
(quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct.
99, 102 -03, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)). “Fair notice”
in Rule 8(a)(2) “depends on the type of case-some
complaints will require at least some factual allegations to
make out a showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515
F.3d 224, 232 (3d Cir. 2008) (quotation omitted). “A
situation may arise where, at some point, the factual detail
in a complaint is so undeveloped that it does not provide a
defendant the type of notice of claim which is contemplated
by Rule 8.” Id. A plaintiff must provide
“more than labels and conclusions” or “a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action” to show entitlement to relief.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. at 1965;
accord, e.g., Phillips, 515 F.3d
at 232; Baraka v. McGreevey, 481 F.3d 187, 195 (3d
Cir. 2007) (The court is not “compelled to accept
unsupported conclusions and unwarranted inferences or a legal
conclusion couched as a factual allegation.”
(quotations and citations omitted)); Evancho v.
Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 350 (3d Cir. 2005).
pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent
standard than formal pleadings drafted by attorneys. See
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S.Ct. 2197,
2200, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081 (2007); Mitchell v. Horn, 318
F.3d 523, 529 (3d Cir. 2003). Pro se litigants are
to be granted leave to file a curative amended complaint
“even when a plaintiff does not seek leave to amend,
” unless such an amendment would be inequitable or
futile. Alston v. Parker, 363 F.3d 229, 235 (3d Cir.
2004). However, a complaint that sets forth facts, which
affirmatively demonstrate that the plaintiff has no right to
recover, is properly dismissed without leave to amend.
Grayson v. Mayview State Hospital, 293 F.3d 103, 106
(3d Cir. 2002).
filed his Complaint alleging his improper removal from his
prison job on December 22, 2016. (Doc. 1, Compl.) The Court
then screened the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915
dismissing some claims and some Defendants, but granting
Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint as to his equal
protection claim against the four remaining Defendants.
See Margetta v. Ferguson, Civ. No. 1:CV-17-0037,
2017 WL 228018 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 19, 2017). On February 9, 2017.
(Doc. 9, Am. Compl.)
April 27, 2017, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the
Amended Complaint due to Plaintiff's failure to state an
equal protection claim. (Doc. 21, Defs.' Mot. to
Dismiss). Defendants filed a brief in support of their
motion. (Doc. 22, Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss Br.) Margetta
failed to file an opposition brief or seek an enlargement of
time to do so.
Facts as Alleged in the Amended Complaint
August 2015 Margetta was employed as a library worker at
SCI-Benner with positive progress reports. (Doc. 9, ¶
12). On July 25, 2016, Plaintiff was summoned to a meeting
with the four named Defendants. (Id., ¶ 13).
Defendants reported irregularities concerning the use of the
library's photocopy machine. Apparently, inmates were
using without paying for copies. (Id., ¶¶
15 - 16). Although Margetta was not specifically accused of
wrongdoing or issued a misconduct, Defendants removed him
from his library job. (Id., ¶ 18).
asserts eight other inmates worked in SCI-Benner's
library at the relevant period in question. “[T]hus
[they] were similarly situated to Plaintiff.”
(Id., ¶ 21). “At least two of the other
similarly situated inmates did not have their job assignments
within the library terminated by defendants.”
(Id., ¶ 22). Margetta alleges that Defendants
had “no rational basis for the difference in the[ir]
treatment of Plaintiff and the two similarly situated inmates
wh[o] did not have their job assignment within the library
terminated.” (Id., ¶ 23).