United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
Barry Fischer United States District Judge
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
CYNTHIA REED EDDY CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
review of the Complaint, and pursuant to the screening
requirements for litigants proceeding in forma
pauperis, the Court recommends sua sponte
dismissal of the Complaint before service as such claims are
frivolous and fail to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. It is further recommended that leave to amend be
denied as it would be futile for Plaintiff to amend his
facts that form the basis of the instant case arise from
Defendants filing a motion seeking to revoke Talley's
in forma pauperis status in Talley v.
Pillai, Civil Action No.
18-cv-1060. In that case, Defendants sought to revoke
Talley's authorization to proceed in forma
pauperis on the grounds that Talley's alleged
indigency was a result of his abusive litigiousness.
Defendants argued that Talley had received a payment of $15,
000.00 in joint settlement of two of his Middle District of
Pennsylvania lawsuits and that within 18 months he had spent
it all, approximately 1/3 of it on his multiple civil
litigation cases, and most of the rest on discretionary
personal spending. Defendants attached a copy of Talley's
DOC monthly account statements to support their argument.
gist of the instant lawsuit is that in seeking to revoke
Talley's IFP status, Defendants inappropriately (i)
disclosed the terms of a confidential settlement agreement
Talley entered into in 2016 and (ii) obtained and disclosed
Talley's inmate account statements without his approval.
alleges that Defendants' conduct amounts to
“robbery/ extortion / and taking” of his
“property . . . with both the malicious and sadistic
intention of converting [his] property for their personal use
and defaming Plaintiff's character in both the eyes of
the Court and the general public while gaining for both
themselves and their enterprises a fraudulently obtained
advantage in defending themselves against Plaintiff's
claims!” Complaint at ¶ 19.
alleges that Defendants' conduct violates the
“Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization[s] (RICO)
Act, ” the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth
Amendments to the United States Constitution under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, and a number of state common laws. He seeks as
relief the following: (1) an injunction striking
Defendants' Motion to Revoke In Forma Pauperis
status; (2) a declaration declaring his rights under the
settlement agreement entered in the Middle District of
Pennsylvania; (3) compensatory damages, comprised of $250,
000.00 for violation of the RICO act; $75, 000.00 for each
claim brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; and $20, 00000 for
each state tort claim; (4) punitive damages, comprised of
$125, 000.00 for each claim brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1983 and $20, 000.00 for each state tort claim; and
(5) any additional relief the Court or jury deems just,
equitable, or proper.
in the complaint are twenty-four defendants: The Department
of Corrections (“DOC”) and eighteen officers or
employees of the DOC (collectively referred to as the
“Commonwealth Defendants”); The Attorney
General's Office, Josh Shapiro, the Attorney General;
Timothy Mazzocca, Deputy Attorney General; Keli M. Neary,
Chief Deputy Attorney General, and Dr. Pillai, a DOC
psychiatrist. Service of process has not yet been made on
Applicable Legal Principles
Court has a statutory responsibility to review complaints
filed by prisoners and by those who have been granted in
forma pauperis to determine if the complaint states a
valid claim for relief. 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) and 1915A.
not only is a court permitted to sua sponte dismiss
a complaint which fails to state a claim, but it is required
to do so by the mandatory language of “the court shall
dismiss” utilized by § 1915(e)(2). In
performing a court's mandated function of sua
sponte reviewing complaints under 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e) and 1915A to determine if they fail to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted, a federal district court
applies the same standard as applied to motions to dismiss
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See,
e.g., Powell v. Hoover, 956 F.Supp. 565, 568
(M.D. Pa. 1997) (applying Rule 12(b)(6) standard to claim
dismissed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)).
reviewing complaints as mandated by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)
and § 1915A and, consequently, utilizing the standards
for a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the complaint must be read
in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and all
well-pleaded, material allegations of fact in the complaint
must be taken as true. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429
U.S. 97 (1976). Because Plaintiff is pro se, the court will
accord him an even more liberal reading of the complaint,
employing less stringent standards than when judging the work
product of an attorney. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S.
question to be resolved is: whether, taking the factual
allegations of the complaint, which are not contradicted by
exhibits and matters of which judicial notice may be had, and
taking all reasonable inferences to be drawn from those
contradicted factual allegations of the complaint, are the
“factual allegations . . . enough to raise a right to
relief above the speculative level, . . . on the assumption
that all the allegations in the complaint are true even if
doubtful in fact[.]” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Or put another way, a
complaint may be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted if it does not plead “enough
facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Id. at 570. Dismissal is proper under
Rule 12(b)(6), and hence, under the PLRA screening
provisions, where the court determines that the contradicted
facts alleged, taken as true and viewed in a light most
favorable to the plaintiff, fail to state a claim as a matter
of law. See., e.g., Gould Electronics, Inc. v. United
States, 220 F.3d 169, 178 (3d Cir. 2000).
Claims Under the Racketeer Influenced and ...