United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
SETH R. MULL, Plaintiff,
JOHN HARMON, et al., Defendants.
PETRESE B. TUCKER, J.
se Plaintiff Seth R. Mull, a convicted prisoner
currently confined at Northampton County Prison, has filed a
Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging
constitutional claims. He has also filed a Motion to Proceed
In Forma Pauperis. Because it appears that Mull is
unable to afford to pay the filing fee, the Court will grant
him leave to proceed in forma pauperis. For the
following reasons, the Complaint will be dismissed in part
with prejudice and in part without prejudice pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and Mull will be granted
leave to file an amended complaint if he can cure the defects
identified in the claims dismissed without prejudice.
alleges that Northampton County Prison has placed him in a
"no communications" status. (ECF No. 2 at
He contends that his legal mail does not reach his attorney
(id), that he has filed grievances about this with
no solution (id. at 9), and that his court appointed
attorney in his criminal cases has attempted to call the
prison but has been harassed. (Id.) Mull asserts
that for months prior to his criminal trial he needed to
speak with his attorney and potential witnesses, but when he
asked to call his attorney prison officials told him to write
to her even though his legal mail was not being forwarded.
(Id.) He was only able to get messages to his
attorney by giving them to other inmates who were being
discharged from the Prison and have them send the messages
on. (Id. at 9-10.) When he complained to Defendant
Charles Horvath of the prison's internal affairs unit
that his mail was being destroyed, Horvath responded by
denying that his mail was being destroyed. (Id. at
10.) Finally, Mull asserts his rights are being violated
because he is currently in administrative segregation on a 23
hour lockdown status that does not give him time to go to the
prison law library since he has less than one hour to shower,
clean his cell and use the library. (Id.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court will grant Mull leave to proceed in forma
pauperis because it appears that he is incapable of
paying the fees to commence this civil action. 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 Mull is
proceeding pro se, the Court construes his
allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655
F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).
8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires a
complaint to contain "a short a lain 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. Or., No. Civ. A. 16-4741, 2017 WL 3494219, at *3
(E.D. Pa. Aug. 11, 2017) (quotations omitted).
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
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).
Claims Involving Grievances
alleges that Defendant Horvath responded to his grievance by
denying that his legal mail was being destroyed. He also
makes other general allegations that grievances were not
properly addressed without naming any specific Defendant.
Claims based on the handling of prison grievances fail
because "[p]rison inmates do not have a constitutionally
protected right to a grievance process." Jackson v.
Gordon, 145 Fed.Appx. 774, 777 (3d Cir. 2005) (per
curiam); see also Caldwell v. Beard, 324 Fed.Appx.
186, 189 (3d Cir. 2009) (per curiam). Accordingly, the facts
alleged by Mull about the manner in which Defendant Horvath
and other unspecified Defendants addressed his grievances do
not give rise to a plausible basis for a constitutional claim
and will be dismissed with prejudice.