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Perez v. Mahally

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

March 28, 2018

ANTHONY I PEREZ, SR., Plaintiff
v.
LARRY MAHALLY, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          SYLVIA H. RAMBO, United States District Judge

         Before the Court is pro se Plaintiff Anthony Perez, Sr.'s amended complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. Nos. 18-20.) For the reasons set forth below, the amended complaint will be dismissed with prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On November 17, 2017, Plaintiff filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. No. 1.) In accordance with the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (“PLRA”), this Court screened Plaintiffs complaint and on December 19, 2017, dismissed it for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and accorded Plaintiff twenty (20) days to file an amended complaint. (Doc. Nos. 9 & 10.) On January 9, 2018, the Court granted Plaintiff an additional twenty (20) days in which to file his amended complaint. (Doc. No. 12.) Plaintiff then filed a “Letter to Court with attachments, ” providing that the relief he seeks is to have a misconduct removed from his record. (Doc. No. 13.)

         On February 5, 2018, the Court ordered the Clerk of Court to strike Plaintiff's letter as an improperly filed pleading and permitted Plaintiff an additional twenty (20) days to file an amended complaint. (Doc. No. 14.) On February 26, 2018, Plaintiff filed a motion for extension of time to file an amended complaint (Doc. No. 15) and a motion to appoint counsel (Doc. No. 16). On February 28, 2018, the Court granted Plaintiff's motion for an extension of time and denied Plaintiff's motion to appoint counsel. (Doc. No. 17.) In the Court's February 28, 2018 Order, the Court strongly advised Plaintiff to utilize the prisoner civil rights complaint form to prepare any amended complaint. (Id.) On March 21, 2018, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint which consists of three separately docketed pages. (Doc. Nos. 18, 19, 20.)

         The first page (Doc. No. 18), names as a Defendant CJ McKeown, a hearing examiner at the State Correctional Institution at Dallas, Pennsylvania (“SCI-Dallas”), and alleges that on April 25, 2017, McKeown prohibited Plaintiff from introducing evidence during his misconduct hearing. (Id.) Plaintiff claims that because of the misconduct, he received an unfair judgment from the state parole board and had to serve time in the Restricted Housing Unit (“RHU”). (Id.)

         The second page (Doc. No. 19), names as a Defendant Nurse R. Walgun. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that on March 26, 2017, Walgun filed a false misconduct accusing Plaintiff of “false allegations.” (Id.) Plaintiff does not elaborate as to what these “false allegations” were. It appears that Plaintiff claims that because he was subsequently found guilty of the misconduct, the misconduct negatively impacted the decision not to parole him on September 9, 2017. (Id.)

         The final page (Doc. No. 20), names as Defendant Officer Young. (Id.) It appears that Plaintiff alleges that on March 26, 2016, Young conspired with Waligun to cover up Waligun's alleged false misconduct report. (Id.) As relief, Plaintiff seeks the removal of his misconduct from his record and compensation. (Doc. Nos. 18, 19, 20.)

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         a. Screening Prisoner Complaints

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, federal district courts must “review . . . a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). If a complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, the court must dismiss the complaint. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). District courts have a similar screening obligation with respect to actions filed by prisoners proceeding in forma pauperis and prisoners challenging prison conditions. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) (“[T]he court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted . . . .”); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1) (“The Court shall on its own motion or on the motion of a party dismiss any action brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this title . . . by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility if the court is satisfied that the action . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”).

         In dismissing claims under §§ 1915(e), 1915A, and 1997e, district courts apply the standard governing motions to dismiss brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See, e.g., Smithson v. Koons, No. 1:15-CV-01757, 2017 WL 3016165, at *3 (M.D. Pa. June 26, 2017) (“The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim under § 1915A(b)(1), § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), or § 1997e(c)(1) is the same as that for dismissing a complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.”); Mitchell v. Dodrill, 696 F.Supp.2d 454, 471 (M.D. Pa. 2010) (explaining that when dismissing a complaint pursuant to § 1915A, “a court employs the motion to dismiss standard set forth under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)”).

         When 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 Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

         Accordingly, 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 ...


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