United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Othel McIntosh (“Plaintiff), an individual presently
confined at the United States Penitentiary at Lewisburg,
Pennsylvania (“USP-Lewisburg”), filed this
combined Bivens / Federal Tort Claims Act
(“FTCA”) action on April 27, 2018 against the
United States of American. (Doc. No. 1.) Since the filing of
his complaint, Plaintiff has also filed three addenda to his
complaint. (Doc. Nos. 5, 10, 11.) Further, Plaintiff has
filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. (Doc. No. 7.) Pursuant to the Prison
Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (“PLRA”),
Court will perform its mandatory screening of the complaint
prior to service.
alleges that he has been misclassified as a sex offender on
an internal Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”)
classification form. (Doc. No. 1 at 1.) As a result of this
alleged misclassification, Plaintiff argues that his life and
liberty have been placed in danger because he is now being
targeted by other prisoners. (Id. at 1, 2.) For
instance, Plaintiff alleges that other inmates verbally
harass him and have both assaulted him and attempted to
assault him because of their belief that he is a sex
offender. (Id. at 2.) Plaintiff maintains that he
constantly worries about his misclassification as a sex
offender and future threats from other prisoners.
(Id. at 2, 3.)
September 1, 2017, Plaintiff filed an informal resolution to
rectify the misclassification. (Id. at 2.) On
September 5, 2017, Plaintiff received a response stating that
he does not have a “sex offender public safety factor,
nor [is he] classified as a sex offender [and that if] it was
ever placed on [Plaintiff], it was in error.” (Doc. No.
1-1 at 1.) Attached to Plaintiff's complaint are two
“Male Custody Classification Forms, ” one dated
October 30, 2014 with a classification of “Sex Offn,
” and a more recent form dated May 19, 2017 that does
not include any such sex offender classification.
(Id. at 2, 3.) Plaintiff claims that the United
States has defamed him and was negligent in misclassifying
him as a sex offender. (Id. at 3.) Accordingly, he
requests one million dollars in compensatory relief.
4, 2018, Plaintiff filed an addendum to his complaint,
acknowledging that around November 13, 2016, his case manager
removed the sex offender classification from his custody
classification form. (Doc. No. 5 at 3.) Plaintiff alleges
that inmate and staff members continue to refer to him as a
sex offender and verbally abuse him. (Id.) However,
it appears that Plaintiff seeks an increase of damages from
one to three million dollars. (Id. at 5.)
Subsequently, on May 9, 2018, Plaintiff filed another
addendum to his complaint. (Doc. No. 10.) Plaintiff provides
that because he was misclassified as a sex offender, he fears
that his life is in danger from other inmates and again
requests three million dollars. (Id. at 2.)
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.
See id. § 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 id. §
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
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, Civ. No. 15-01757, 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)”).
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)).
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
“plausibly give rise to an entitlement to
relief.” See Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629
F.3d 121, 130 (3d Cir. 2010) (citation and quotation marks
ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim, “a court must consider only the
complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of
public record, as well as undisputedly authentic documents if
the complainant's claims are based upon these
documents.” Mayer v. Belichick, 605 F.3d 223,
230 (3d Cir. 2010) (citing Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v.
White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir.
1993)). A court may also consider “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) (quoting 5B Charles A. Wright & Arthur R.
Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 1357 (3d Ed.
conducting its screening review of a complaint, the court
must be mindful that a document filed pro se is
“to be liberally construed.” Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). A pro se
complaint, “however inartfully pleaded, ” must be
held to “less stringent standards than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers” and can be dismissed for failure to
state a claim only if it appears beyond doubt that the
plaintiff can ...