United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
MALACHY E. MANNION UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
David Thomas, an inmate confined in the Rockview State
Correctional Institution (“SCI-Rockview”),
Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, filed the above-captioned civil
rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983.
(Doc. 1). The sole Defendant is R. Vance,
SCI-Rockview Security Lieutenant. Id. Along with the
filing of his complaint, Thomas submitted an application to
proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C.
§1915. (Doc. 2).
must dismiss, at the earliest practicable time, certain
in forma pauperis and prisoner actions that are
frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim, or seek monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.
See 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2) (in forma
pauperis actions); 28 U.S.C. §1915A (actions in
which prisoner seeks redress from a governmental defendant);
42 U.S.C. §1997e (prisoner actions brought with
respect to prison conditions). The court must accept all
factual allegations in a complaint as true and take them in
the light most favorable to a pro se plaintiff.
Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 229
(3d Cir. 2008); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93
(2007). Because Plaintiff proceeds pro se, his
pleading is liberally construed and his complaint,
“however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. at 94
(citations omitted). The Court has conducted an initial
screening of Plaintiff's complaint, and for the reasons
set forth below, Plaintiff's motion to proceed in
forma pauperis will be granted for the sole purpose of
filing the instant action, and the Plaintiff's complaint
will be dismissed as legally frivolous.
Allegations in Complaint
states that on December 20, 2018, he “found out that
[his] personal property, specifically [his] television was
destroyed by the security staff” and he “was
given an opportunity to challenge or appeal the destruction,
which is a violation of [his] Due Process rights.”
(Doc. 1). Specifically, Plaintiff claims that he
“lent out [his] T.V. to another inmate, which was
confiscated from that inmate” and Plaintiff
“received no confiscation slip or misconduct for
lending and borrowing.” Id. He claims that he
“spoke to several institutional staff, to include CO
Musser, CO II Woorster, CO II Crawford and CO IV Davis, all
who assured [him] that [he'd] have [his] television
returned or replaced.” Id. Finally, he
“sent CO III Vance a request to staff in regards to
[his] T.V. and he responded that all contraband from October
has been destroyed.” Id.
files the instant action, alleging a violation of his Fifth
and Fourteenth Amendment rights to Due Process and requesting
that “the Department of Corrections replace [his] T.V.
with either a new one or a tablet with all
accessories.” Id. He also requests punitive
and nominal damages, claiming that “there is nothing in
DOC policy that states that loaned property or personal
property in another's possession is considered
contraband” and that “no misconduct for lending
or borrowing was issued to “Plaintiff” or the
inmate who [he] lent the T.V. to”, nor was he
“issued a confiscated item receipt.” Id.
order to state a viable section 1983 claim, a plaintiff must
plead two essential elements: (1) that the conduct complained
of was committed by a person acting under color of state law,
and (2) that said conduct deprived the plaintiff of a right,
privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or laws of
the United States. Groman v. Twp. of Manalapan, 47
F.3d 628, 638 (3d Cir. 1995); Shaw by Strain v.
Strackhouse, 920 F.2d 1135, 1141-42 (3d Cir. 1990).
“To establish liability for deprivation of a
constitutional right under §1983, a party must show
personal involvement by each defendant.” Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676-77 (2009) (“Because
vicarious liability is inapplicable to Bivens and
§1983 suits, a plaintiff must plead that each
Government-official defendant, through the official's own
individual actions, has violated the Constitution.”);
see Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 130
(3d Cir. 2010).
it is determined that Plaintiff has failed to allege personal
involvement of Defendant Vance. Specifically, he fails to
allege that Defendant Vance was personally involved in any
deprivation of his rights under the Constitution or any other
law of the United States.
to the extent that Plaintiff is alleging a Fourteenth
Amendment deprivation of property without due process claim,
his claim is not actionable under 42 U.S.C.
§1983. See Coulson v. Mooney, 2015 WL
1034632 (M.D. Pa. 2015) (dismissing the complaint on
screening because the plaintiff had an adequate
post-deprivation remedy to address his claim that his
cellmate deliberately destroyed his television and other
personal property). The Supreme Court of the United States
has held that neither negligent nor intentional deprivations
of property violate the Due Process Clause if there is a
meaningful post-deprivation remedy for the loss. See
Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517 (1984); Parratt v.
Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 530 (1981). The Third Circuit
Court of Appeals has “held that the prison's
grievance program and internal review provide an adequate
post-deprivation remedy to satisfy due process.”
Barr v. Knaueer, 321 Fed.Appx. 101, 103 (3d Cir.
2009) (citing Tillman v. Lebanon County Correctional
Facility, 221 F.3d 410, 422 (3d Cir. 2000). See also
Griffin-El v. Beard, 2010 WL 1837813 (E.D. Pa. 2010)
(concluding that a “prisoner's ‘failure to
[properly] avail himself of such remedy does not affect its
adequacy as a post-deprivation remedy'”).
Additionally, “the failure of a prison official to
provide a favorable response to an inmate grievance is not a
federal constitutional violation.” Gordon v.
Vaughn, 1999 WL 305240 (E.D. Pa. May 12, 1999)
(citing Adams v. Rice, 40 F.3d 72, 74
(4th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 514 U.S.
Plaintiff has another post-deprivation remedy, namely a state
conversion action. See Crosby v. Piazza, 2012 WL
641938 (3d. Cir. 2012) (holding that to the extent an inmate
“is dissatisfied with the outcome of the administrative
process, he may still file a state court tort action”);
Reavis v. Poska, 2010 WL 2511379 (W.D. Pa. 2010)
(“Plaintiff, cannot as a matter of law, make a claim
under the Fourteenth Amendment for a deprivation of property
without due process” because the DOC's
“internal grievance procedure and the availability of a
state tort suit in state court provide adequate post
deprivation remedies.”); 42 Pa.C.S.A. §8522(a),
states in his complaint that he participated in a meaningful
post-deprivation grievance procedure, but that his grievance
was dismissed as untimely. (Doc. 1). As discussed,
if a meaningful post-deprivation grievance procedure is
available, regardless of whether the result of this grievance
procedure is favorable to the plaintiff, the plaintiff will
not have a claim for a violation of the Due Process Clause of
the Fourteenth Amendment. Therefore, in accordance with the
aforementioned precedential case law, Plaintiff has failed to
not only allege personal involvement of the only named
Defendant, but has also failed to allege a Fourteenth
Amendment violation of the Due Process Clause. As such, it is
determined that Plaintiff has failed to establish the
existence of a constitutional injury actionable under section
1983, and the complaint will be dismissed.