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Davis v. Bigley

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

July 9, 2019

RICKEY LEROY DAVIS, Plaintiff,
v.
KELLY BIGLEY Defendant.

          Cathy Bissoon, District Judge.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Maureen P. Kelly United States Magistrate Judge

         I. RECOMMENDATION

         For the reasons that follow, it is respectfully recommended that, pursuant to the screening provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the Complaint be dismissed before being served because it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         II. REPORT

         A. Background

         Rickey Leroy Davis (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se, has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”) to pursue a civil rights action against the Honorable Kelly Bigley (“Judge Bigley”), a judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County. ECF No. 2. The form Complaint for a Civil Case (the “Complaint”) is not a model of clarity. However, it is clear that because Plaintiff seeks to sue Judge Bigley for actions that she took in her judicial capacity, Judge Bigley is entitled to absolute judicial immunity. Accordingly, the Complaint should be dismissed before being served because it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         B. Discussion

         1. Pre-service dismissals of Complaints proceeding IFP.

         Because Plaintiff has been granted IFP status, ECF No. 2, the screening provisions of 28 U.S.C. §1915(e) apply to his Complaint. See Atamian v. Burns, 236 Fed.Appx. 753, 755 (3d Cir. 2007) (“the screening procedures set forth in § 1915(e) apply to in forma pauperis complaints filed by prisoners and non-prisoners alike”) (citations omitted); 28 U.S.C. §1915(e) (“the court shall dismiss the case [of a plaintiff granted IFP status] at any time if the court determines that - (A) the allegation of poverty is untrue; or (B) the action or appeal - (i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.”). In performing the Court's mandated function of sua sponte review of complaints under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), to determine if the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, a federal district court applies the same standard applied to motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See, e.g., Brodzki v. Tribune Co., 481 Fed.Appx. 705 (3d Cir. 2012) (applying Rule 12(b)(6) standard to claim dismissed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)).

         As the United States Supreme Court explained in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), a complaint may properly be dismissed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12 (b)(6) if it does not allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570 (rejecting the traditional 12 (b)(6) standard set forth in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)). Under this standard, the court must, as a general rule, accept as true all factual allegations of the complaint and all reasonable inferences must be viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiff. Angelastro v. Prudential-Bache Securities, Inc., 764 F.2d 939, 944 (3d Cir. 1985). In addition to the complaint, courts may consider matters of public record and other matters of which a court may take judicial notice, court orders, and exhibits attached to the complaint when adjudicating a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1385 n.2 (3d Cir. 1994), abrogation on other grounds recognized in, Rotkiske v. Klemm, 890 F.3d 422, 428 (3d Cir. 2018), cert. granted, 18-328, 2019 WL 886893 (U.S. Feb. 25, 2019). Moreover, under the 12(b)(6) standard, a “court need not . . . accept as true allegations that contradict matters properly subject to judicial notice or by exhibit.” Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001), amended by, 275 F.3d 1187 (9th Cir. 2001). The court need not accept inferences drawn by plaintiff if they are unsupported by the facts as set forth in the complaint. See California Pub. Employee Ret. Sys. v. The Chubb Corp., 394 F.3d 126, 143 (3d Cir. 2004) (citing Morse v. Lower Merion School Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997)). Nor must the court accept legal conclusions set forth as factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)).

         The question to be resolved is: whether, taking the factual allegations of the complaint, which are not contradicted by the exhibits and matters of which judicial notice may be had, and taking all reasonable inferences to be drawn from those uncontradicted 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[.]” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Or put another way, a complaint may be dismissed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 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.

         Furthermore, because Plaintiff is pro se, courts accord an even more liberal reading of the complaint, employing less stringent standards when considering pro se pleadings than when judging the work product of an attorney. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972).

         2. Allegations ...


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