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Palmore v. Clarion County

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

July 29, 2019

DAROLD PALMORE, Plaintiff,
v.
CLARION COUNTY, et al., Defendants.

          David Stewart Cercone, United States District Judge

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          CYNTHIA REED EDDY, CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. Recommendation

         Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, with brief in support (ECF Nos. 36 and 37), and Plaintiff's response in opposition (ECF No. 50).

         After careful consideration of the parties' submissions, in light of the standards governing motions to dismiss set forth by the Supreme Court of the United States in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 668 (2009), and as articulated in United States Court of Appeals Third Circuit precedent, see, e.g., Connelly v. Lane Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 790 (3d Cir 2016), and for the following reasons, it is respectfully recommended that the motion be denied.

         II. Report

         A. Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff, Darold Palmore, an individual formerly confined in the Clarion County Corrections, [1] located in Shippendale, PA, filed this putative class action, [2] prisoner civil rights case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges that the misconduct policy of Clarion County Corrections violated his, and other inmates' procedural rights. Specifically, through his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Clarion County Corrections had a policy and practice that enabled the jail to deduct five dollars ($5.00) from an inmate's account if the inmate was found guilty of a misconduct. As part of the policy, Clarion County Corrections staff did not issue incident statements or facts underlying the misconduct charges. Rather, only a Charge List was issued, which was devoid of facts describing the charges. Plaintiff alleges that with the scant information provided it was impossible for inmates to devise a defense against the charges. Additionally, if found guilty, inmates were not issued written statements that informed them that they were found guilty or what evidence supported that sanction.[3] This, accordingly to Plaintiff, hindered the ability of an inmate to appeal the sanctions. Plaintiff contends that this policy and practice violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

         Named as defendants are Clarion County, its warden, its current and former deputy wardens, four officers in charge, and fourteen rank and file correctional officers. As relief, Plaintiff seeks “money/fees refunded, punitive damages per defendant per misconduct, compensatory damages per defendant per misconduct, nominal damages per defendant per misconduct, [and] any other relief applicable by law.” Complaint at 9.

         Defendants have filed the instant motion contending that all claims against them should be dismissed for failure to state a claim, to which Plaintiff has responded in opposition. The matter is ripe for disposition.

         B. Standard of Review

         The applicable inquiry under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is well settled. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, a complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides that a complaint may be dismissed for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain 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) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A complaint that merely alleges entitlement to relief, without alleging facts that show entitlement, must be dismissed. See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 211 (3d Cir. 2009). This “ ‘does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage,' but instead ‘simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' the necessary elements.” Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Nevertheless, the court need not accept as true “unsupported conclusions and unwarranted inferences, ” Doug Grant, Inc. v. Greate Bay Casino Corp., 232 F.3d 173, 183-84 (3d Cir. 2000), or the plaintiff's “bald assertions” or “legal conclusions, ” Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997).

         When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court's role is limited to determining whether a plaintiff is entitled to offer evidence in support of his claims. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). The court does not consider whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail. See id. A defendant bears the burden of establishing that a plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim. See Gould Elecs. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 178 (3d Cir. 2000). In short, a motion to dismiss should ...


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