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Williams v. Wetzel

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

April 5, 2018

JOHN WETZEL, et al., Defendants



         Pro se Plaintiff Mark-Alonzo Williams is currently confined at the State Correctional Institution at Forest, Marienville, Pennsylvania (“SCI-Forest”). The case, raising claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, is proceeding on the basis of a second amended complaint filed on September 26, 2017. (Doc. No. 52.) Plaintiff names as Defendants several employees of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (“DOC”): Secretary John Wetzel, James Barnacle, Vincent Mooney, Larry Mahally, Norman Demming, Joseph Zakarauskas, Mark Pall, and Joseph Fye. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges constitutional violations including retaliatory transfers, cruel and unusual punishment, failure to protect, conspiracy, and equal protection. (Id.) Currently pending before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration of the Court's denial of his motion for preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order (Doc. No. 59), Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's second amended complaint (Doc. No. 61), Plaintiff's motion to amend his brief in opposition to Defendants' motion to dismiss (Doc. No. 70), and Plaintiff's motion for a more definite statement (Doc. No. 71).

         I. BACKGROUND[1]

         On September 23, 2014, while incarcerated at SCI-Dallas, Plaintiff received a “death threat letter” from another inmate named Bader. (Doc. No. 52 at 6.) Plaintiff gave the letter to Corrections Officer Petrosky (not a named Defendant), who in turn gave it to Defendant Pall. (Id.) Bader was placed in a Restricted Housing Unit (“RHU”), and after fifteen (15) days, was released to his respective cellblock. (Id. at 7.) Thereafter, Plaintiff, who is housed in a separate cellblock, returned to his cell from the commissary. (Id.) He was told by Defendant Fye that his celldoor was already unlocked prior to his return. (Id.) Upon entering his cell, Plaintiff was assaulted by Bader, who was hiding underneath Plaintiff's bed. (Id.)

         Bader punched Plaintiff in the face and body and attempted to pull off Plaintiff's trousers. (Id.) Plaintiff was able to break free, lock Bader in his cell, and informed Defendant Fye of what happened. (Id.) Bader was taken to the RHU. (Id.)

         Plaintiff requested to see medical, but was denied by Correctional Officer Levan (not a named Defendant). (Id. at 10.) Thereafter, Plaintiff reported a PREA[2] complaint via the telephone on his cell block. (Id.). The paper version of his PREA complaint was confiscated by Officer Young (not a named Defendnat), but was returned days later after Plaintiff complained about its whereabouts via requests slips to Defendant Demming. (Id.)

         On December 5, 2014, Plaintiff reported to Defendant Pall who informed Plaintiff that it was “50/50” as to whether Plaintiff or Bader would be transferred from SCI-Dallas. (Id. at 12.) On December 23, 2014, Plaintiff was transferred to SCI-Coal Township. (Id. at 13.) Plaintiff filed a grievance both at SCI-Dallas on December 18, 2014, and upon his arrival at SCI-Coal Township, claiming that his transfer was retaliatory. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Pall, Zakarauskas, Demming, and Mahally colluded with Defendant Mooney to transfer Plaintiff to SCI-Coal Township, and that Defendants Barnacle and Wetzel approved the transfer. (Id. at 14.)

         On January 15, 2015, Plaintiff was transferred to SCI-Graterford. (Id. at 15.) Plaintiff contends that this transfer was not retaliatory until Defendants Klopotosky, Barnacle, and Mooney ordered Plaintiff to be transferred back to SCI-Coal Township. (Id.) While at SCI-Coal Township, Plaintiff was placed in Disciplinary Segregated Confinement for fighting with another inmate. (Id.) After his disciplinary confinement, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Mooney, Klopotosky, Barnacle and Wetzel approved another retaliatory transfer to SCI-Fayette. (Id.) While at SCI-Fayette, Plaintiff was again placed in disciplinary confinement for another fight with an inmate. (Id. at 17.)

         On October 6, 2016, Plaintiff was transferred to SCI-Forest, again claiming that this was a retaliatory transfer. (Id.) It appears that Plaintiff was subsequently transferred to SCI-Camp Hill. (Id.) The docket reflects that on or about December 11, 2017, Plaintiff was transferred back to SCI-Forest where he remains currently incarcerated. (Doc. No. 65.)


         While Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's second amended complaint (Doc. No. 61), the basis of the motion is their contention that Plaintiff's second amended complaint fails to comply with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8 and 20. (Id.) Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), a complaint “must contain (1) a short and plain statement of the grounds of the court's jurisdiction . . .; (2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and (3) a demand for the relief sought.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Rule 8(d)(1) requires that “[e]ach allegation must be simple, concise, and direct. No. technical form is required.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(d). Rule 8 is satisfied when the allegations of the complaint “enable[s] [the adverse party] to answer and prepare for trial.” Salahuddin v. Cuomo, 861 F.2d 40, 42 (2d Cir. 1988). If a pro se complaint does not comply with the requirements of Rule 8, a court may dismiss the complaint “on its own initiative or in response to a motion by the defendant.” Id.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20, titled Permissive Joinder of Parties, in pertinent part, reads:

(a) Persons Who May Join and Be ...

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