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White v. Gillard

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

August 9, 2019

KENYATTA WHITE, Jr., Plaintiff,
C.O. GILLARD, et al., Defendants.


          MICHAEL M. BAYLSON, J.

         Pro se Plaintiff Kenyatta White, Jr., a pretrial detainee currently confined at the Philadelphia Detention Center, has filed a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging constitutional claims.[1] He has also filed a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. Because it appears that White is unable to afford to pay the filing fee, the Court will grant him leave to proceed in forma pauperis. For the following reasons, certain claims in the Complaint will be dismissed with prejudice, and other claims will be dismissed without prejudice. White will also be granted leave to file an amended complaint to attempt to cure the defects noted by the Court concerning the claims dismissed without prejudice.

         I. FACTS

         White alleges that on May 19, 2019 Defendant Gillard was assigned to G Dorm for the night shift and positioned in his booth in front of Section 303. (ECF No. 2 at 5.)[2] At 1:35 a.m., a fight broke out involving several inmates. White, along with another inmate named Mullen, attempted to break up the fight because Gillard allegedly did not act to do so. (Id.) White suffered stab wounds to his upper left arm. (Id.) Gillard allegedly failed to call for a response even after White told him he was stabbed. (Id.) White next asserts that Gillard placed him and Mullen in a sally port and contacted Defendant Sgt. John who responded to the scene. (Id. at 6.) Sgt. John told White to grab his things and that he was being moved to a different dorm. (Id.) When White arrived at E Dorm he told Sgt. John he needed medical attention. (Id.) At the medical unit, a nurse bandaged his wounds and he was returned to E Dorm. (Id.) Later, Sgt. John came to E Dorm with other officers and told White and Mullen to again pack their things because they were being taken to protective custody. (Id.) While still bleeding, White was handcuffed and made to drag his mattress and belongings to the Segregated Housing Unit (“SHU”). (Id. at 7.) White alleges that Sgt. John failed to follow protocols to investigate the stabbing incident before ordering White to the SHU. (Id.) After being taken to the SHU, White received no medical care for his wounds for nine days. (Id. at 8.) At the time he filed his Complaint, White had been held in the SHU for 20 days, and had four disciplinary hearings continued allegedly due to the unspecified “malicious actions” of Gillard and Sgt. John. (Id.) He received a hearing on June 11, 2019, when he had already been in the SHU for 25 days, resulting in a sentence of 30 days confinement in the SHU. (Id. at 11.)

         Attached to White's Complaint is a copy of an “Inmate Misconduct” report dated May 19, 2019, and signed by Defendants Gillard and John. The report recites:

On Sunday, May 19, 2019, I Officer Gillard was assigned to G-dorm [] for the 11pm to 7am shift. At approx. 1:35 am, I C/o Gillard was called by Inmate Mullen Troy [] section 303 who called me to the gate. Whom visually close up was Injured with a slightly blood nose. Seconds after, another altercation happened in the same section with Inmate White Kenyatta [] (who I visually seen) fighting another Inmate. I then contacted Sgt john via warlike [sic] & telephone before going into the section where the incident had ceased. I then placed both I/m's White Kenyatta & Mullen Troy in the sally port holding area, where moments later Sgt John arrived and escorted both I/m's to Medical and B block Without further incidents.

(ECF No. 2 at 15.) Also attached to the Complaint is a mostly illegible Disciplinary Hearing Summary Report. (Id. at 16.) The only legible entries record White's name and his sentence of 30 days.

         White alleges that Gillard violated his rights by failing to keep him safe and writing a false incident report that caused him to be transferred to the SHU. (Id. at 9.) He alleges that John violated his rights by failing to follow protocol before ordering him to the SHU, photograph his wounds, [3] conduct a search of the area for weapons, and check the hands of other inmates (presumably for evidence of blood from his stab wounds).[4] (Id.) Warden Cathy M. Talmadge is named as a Defendant because she “allows the Detention Center to run on unconstitutional policies, such as Officer's [sic] assaulting inmates then making false reports, then sending inmates to the [SHU] for any reason they feel is deemable.” (Id. at 10.) White also asserts that she allows disciplinary officers to find inmates “guilty on all write ups, ” will not reverse decisions on appeal, and allowed the other Defendants to mistreat White and unlawfully send him to the SHU. (Id.) White asserts constitutional claims for “medical neglect, ” false imprisonment, failure to keep him safe, falsifying documents, excessive force, deprivation of his liberty and privileges, and for being unlawfully housed in the SHU for 30 days. (Id. at 12.)


         The Court will grant White leave to proceed in forma pauperis because it appears that he is incapable of paying the fees to commence this civil action.[5] Accordingly, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) requires the Court to dismiss the Complaint if, among other things, it 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 White is proceeding pro se, the Court construes his allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).

         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 ...

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