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Green v. City of Philadelphia

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

June 28, 2019

SHAMAR GREEN, Plaintiff,
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, et al, Defendants.



         By Memorandum and Order entered on June 6, 2019, the Court granted pro se Plaintiff Shamar Green leave to proceed in forma pauperis and dismissed his Complaint in part without prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). (ECF Nos. 6, 7.) Green was also granted leave to file an amended complaint, which he did on June 24, 2019. (ECF No. 8.) Green, who is a prisoner confined at the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center ("PICC")[1] has again named as Defendants the City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Department of Prisons ("PDP"), and Lt Horsey. For the following reasons, the Amended Complaint ("AC") will be dismissed in part pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

         I. FACTS

         Like Green's original Complaint, the AC is extremely brief. He again alleges that on certain dates in February 2019, as well as on two newly cited dates in June 2019, Defendant Horsey threatened him with physical harm, "retaliation from the Streets," and that Defendant PDP "refused to separate us." (ECF No. 8 at 5.) He asserts a violation of the Fourth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments (id. at 3) and seeks money damages due to "severe stress w/ not being fed the proper trays, physical harm, mental anguish[, ] emotional distress ect [sic]." (Id. at 5.) Green had attached to the original Complaint nearly illegible copies of inmate grievance forms he apparently filed regarding his alleged interactions with Defendant Horsey.[2]

         Attached to the AC are two additional grievances dated June 13 and 14, 2019 that are legible, and an Inmate Misconduct report dated June 13, 2019. Two of the attachments describe an occurrence on June 13, 2019. In a grievance, Green asserts that he was ambushed in a cell and cut on his face before being able to wrest a knife away from one of his assailants. One of the assailants allegedly yelled as he ran away that "Horsey told you don't f*** with her." (Id. at 13.) He goes on to state that, when he came out of the cell, an unnamed correctional officer directed him to stop but he went back into the cell, and "put up the knife." (Id.) The Inmate Misconduct report states that two non-party correctional officers, McAllister and Jackson, heard a commotion and then saw Green with blood on his face and shirt. (Id. at 12.) He was taken to the medical unit where he was searched, and a 7-inch homemade weapon was discovered. (Id.) The second attached grievance appears to assert that Green's cell in the restricted housing unit had no bed sheets. (Id. at 14.) He claimed that he was denied sheets due to retaliation by Horsey. (Id.) The Complaint contains no other information detailing how any other Defendant allegedly violated Green's constitutional rights.


         In a prior Order the Court granted Green leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Accordingly, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) requires the Court to dismiss the AC if, among other things, it is frivolous or fails to state a claim. Whether a complaint fails to state a claim under § 1915(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). Conclusory allegations do not suffice. Id. As Green is proceeding pro se, the Court construes the allegations of the AC liberally. Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011); but see Argentina v. Gillette, No. 19-1348, 2019 WL 2538020, at *1 (3d Cir. June 20, 2019) (holding that "liberal construction of a pro se amended complaint does not mean accumulating allegations from superseded pleadings").

         Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires a complaint to contain "a short a plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." A district court may sua sponte dismiss a complaint that does not comply with Rule 8 if "the complaint is so confused, ambiguous, vague, or otherwise unintelligible that its true substance, if any, is well disguised." Simmons v. Abruzzo, 49 F.3d 83, 86 (2d Cir. 1995) (quotations omitted). This Court has noted that Rule 8 "requires that pleadings provide enough information to put a defendant on sufficient notice to prepare their defense and also ensure that the Court is sufficiently informed to determine the issue." Fabian v. St. Mary's Med. Ctr., No. Civ. A. 16-4741, 2017 WL 3494219, at *3 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 11, 2017) (quotations omitted).


         Section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code provides in part:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.

42 U.S.C. § 1983. "To 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).

         A. Claims Against Philadelphia

         Green again names the City of Philadelphia as a Defendant. To plead a basis for municipal liability under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that the municipality's policy or custom caused the violation of his constitutional rights. See Monell v. Dep 't of Soc. Servs. of N. Y, 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978). "To satisfy the pleading standard, [the plaintiff] must... specify what exactly that custom or policy was." McTernan v. City of York, PA, 564 F.3d 636, 658 (3d Cir. 2009). '"Policy is made when a decisionmaker possess[ing] final authority to establish municipal policy with respect to the action issues an official proclamation, policy, or edict.'" Estate of Roman v. City of Newark,914 F.3d 789, 798 (3d Cir. 2019) (quoting Andrews v. City of Philadelphia,895 F.2d 1469, 1480 (3d Cir. 1990)). "'Custom, on the other hand, can be proven by showing that a given course of conduct, although not specifically endorsed or authorized by law, is so well-settled and permanent as virtually to constitute law."" Id. (quoting Bielevicz v. Dubinon,915 F.2d 845, 850 (3d Cir. 1990)). A plaintiff illustrates that a custom was the proximate cause of his ...

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