United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
DARNELL JONES, II, J.
Marvin Banks, a State inmate currently incarcerated at SCI
Benner Township, has filed this pro se action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against CO. 1 S. Tucker,
Hearing Examiner Ryan Szelewski, and Major Clark challenging
discipline he received after spitting in CO. Tucker's
face. He has also filed a Motion to Proceed In Forma
Pauperis. For the following reasons, the Court will
grant Banks leave to proceed in forma pauperis and
will dismiss his Complaint.
November 5, 2017, Banks got into an argument with CO. 1 S.
Tucker "about a procedural duty in which [he] was trying
to understand [Tucker's] reasoning which is hard for
[him] due to [his] severe mental illness." (Compl. at
Tucker became "irate and disrespectful, " and Banks
claims that she falsely accused him of assaulting her by
spitting on her. (Id.) Banks claims that Tucker
"defam[ed his] character." (Id.)
had a disciplinary hearing before Hearing Examiner Ryan
Szelewski on November 8, 2017. (Id. at 2-3.)
According to Banks, Szelewski violated his due process rights
by "not check[ing] any evidence or call[ing] to
interview any of [his] witnesses." (Id. at 3.)
Szelewski found Banks guilty of the charge and sanctioned him
to 90 days in disciplinary custody. (Id. at 2, 4.)
Banks appealed to the Program Review Committee, which denied
his appeal. (Id. at 9-10.)
also claims that Major Clark was deliberately indifferent
because she viewed video of the incident after his hearing
and "still did nothing to help [him]."
(Id. at 3.) According to Banks, the video
"shows that nothing happened." (Id.) Banks
claims that he "tr[ied] to correspond with [Major Clark]
via letters she purposely refused to write [him] back."
now brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
claiming that the Defendants violated his due process rights
and demonstrated deliberate indifference by falsely charging
him with assaulting an officer and finding him guilty of that
assault. As relief, he asks that the Court "remove
Defendants from their duties" and that he be awarded $5,
000 for every day that he spent in the Restricted Housing
Unit, as well as $10, 000 from each Defendant for
"mental anguish." (Id. at 19.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court will grant Banks leave to proceed in forma
pauperis because it appears that he is not capable of
paying the fees to commence this civil action. Accordingly,
Banks's Complaint is subject to 28 U.S.C. §
l9l5(e)(2)(B)(ii), which requires the Court to dismiss the
Complaint if it fails to state a claim. Whether a complaint
fails to state a claim under § l9l5(e)(2)(B)(ii) is
governed by the same standard applicable to motions to
dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6),
see Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236, 240 (3d
Cir. 1999), which requires the Court to determine whether the
complaint contains "sufficient factual matter, accepted
as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (quotations omitted). "[M]ere conclusory
statements do not suffice." Id. As Banks is
proceeding pro se, the Court construes her
allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655
F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).
state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the
violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of
the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation
was committed by a person acting under color of state
law." West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
As discussed below, Banks's Complaint does not establish
a plausible constitutional violation.
Eighth Amendment Claims
of confinement violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition
on cruel and unusual punishment if they satisfy two criteria.
First, the conditions "must be, objectively,
sufficiently serious" such that a "prison
official's act or omission ... result[s] in the denial of
the minimal civilized measure of life's
necessities." Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
834 (1994) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).
Second, the official responsible for the challenged
conditions must exhibit a "sufficiently culpable state
of mind, " which "[i]n prison-conditions cases ...
is one of deliberate indifference to inmate health or
safety." Id. Here, because the punishment in
question did not deprive Banks of basic necessities and does
not represent "'a dramatic departure from accepted
standards for conditions of confinement, '" Banks
has not stated a basis for an Eighth Amendment claim. See
Griffin v. Vaughn, 112 F.3d 703, 709 (3d Cir. 1997)
(holding that the restrictive conditions in administrative
custody in the Pennsylvania state correctional institutions,
in and of themselves, do not violate the Eighth Amendment);
see also Bond v. Home, 553 Fed.Appx. 219, 224-25 (3d
Cir. 2014) (per curiam) (transfer to disciplinary confinement
did not violate the Eighth Amendment).