United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Christopher C. Conner, Chief Judge
Ronald Cooks (“Cooks”), an inmate currently
confined at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg,
Pennsylvania, (“USP-Lewisburg”), commenced this
Bivens, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, civil rights
action on January 23, 2018. (Doc. 1). Named as the sole
defendant is case manager Cotterall. At the same time he
filed his complaint, Cooks submitted an application to
proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. §
1915. (Doc. 9). The complaint is presently before the court
for preliminary screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(a). For the reasons set forth below, the motion to
proceed in forma pauperis will be granted, and Cooks
will be directed to file a properly supported amended
Screening Provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform
Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat.
1321 (April 26, 1996), authorizes a district court to review
a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner is
proceeding in forma pauperis or seeks redress against a
governmental employee or entity. See 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2), 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The court is required to
identify cognizable claims and to sua sponte dismiss any
claim that is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). This
initial screening is to be done as soon as practicable and
need not await service of process. See 28 U.S.C. §
Bivens action is the federal counterpart to an action filed
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Paton v. LaPrade,
524 F.2d 82 (3d Cir.1975); Farmer v. Carlson, 685
F.Supp. 1335, 1338 (M.D.Pa. 1988). In order to state a viable
§ 1983 claim, a plaintiff must plead two essential
elements: (1) that the conduct complained of was committed by
a person acting under color of state law, and (2) that said
conduct deprived the plaintiff of a right, privilege, or
immunity secured by the Constitution or laws of the United
States. Groman v. Township of Manalapan, 47 F.3d
628, 638 (3d Cir. 1995); Shaw by Strain v.
Strackhouse, 920 F.2d 1135, 1141-42 (3d Cir. 1990).
“To establish liability for deprivation of a
constitutional right under § 1983, a party must show
personal involvement by each defendant.” Keys v.
Carroll, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137930, *26 (M.D. Pa.
2012), citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
676-77 (2009) (“Because vicarious liability is
inapplicable to Bivens and § 1983 suits, a plaintiff
must plead that each Government-official defendant, through
the official's own individual actions, has violated the
Constitution.”); Santiago v. Warminster Twp.,
629 F.3d 121, 130 (3d Cir. 2010).
as the sole defendant in the complaint is Cotterall, a case
manager at USP-Lewisburg. The entire statement of claim is as
follows: “I sent three I.R.S. documents to Miss
Cotterall asking for three copies of each and never received
the documents back.” (Doc. 1, at 2). For relief, Cooks
seeks $1, 000, 000 and return of the original IRS documents.
(Id. at 3).
complaint fails to allege any constitutional violations, and
fails to state a cognizable claim for relief. See Flanagan v.
Shively, 783 F.Supp. 922, 928-29 (M.D. Pa. 1992) (holding
that “[p]leading conclusory allegations that, for
example, the defendants acted willfully, intentionally and
deliberately or with reckless disregard of plaintiff's
rights does not suffice” to avoid dismissal for failure
to state a claim), affirmed 980 F.2d 722 (3d Cir. 1992),
cert. denied 510 U.S. 829 (1993). While Cooks will be granted
an opportunity to file an amended complaint, he is strictly
cautioned that the allegations in the amended complaint
“should be specific as to time and place, and should
identify the specific person or persons responsible for the
deprivation of his constitutional rights and what each
individual did that led to deprivation of his rights.”
Williams v. Pa. Dep't of Corr., 2013 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 88367, *18 (M.D. Pa. 2013) (citing Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009)). “It must be a
new pleading which stands by itself as an adequate complaint
Cooks' pro se status, he will be afforded an
opportunity to file an amended complaint to sufficiently
state a claim for relief. Failure to timely file a properly
supported amended complaint will result in the dismissal of
this action without further notice of court.
appropriate order will issue.
Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents
of the Fed. Bureau of Narcotics,
403 U.S. 388 (1971).
Bivens stands for the proposition that “a citizen
suffering a compensable injury to a constitutionally
protected interest could invoke the general federal-question
jurisdiction of the district courts to obtain an award of
monetary damages against the ...