United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
Harvey Patrick Short, a prisoner who had been incarcerated at
George W. Hill Correctional Facility (“GWH”),
filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 along
with a motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. For the following reasons, the Court will
grant Short leave to proceed in forma pauperis,
dismiss one Defendant with prejudice for failure to state a
claim, dismiss certain other Defendants without prejudice for
failure to state a claim, and permit Short to file an amended
complaint if he is able to cure the defects identified by the
was detained at GWH beginning on May 16, 2019. (ECF No. 2 at
9.) He alleges that he received a medical screening upon his
commitment that was conducted by Defendants
Mariel and Krester. (Id. at 10.) He told
these Defendants he suffered from dental problems as well as
high blood pressure, a seizure disorder, and mental health
disorders, and that took medicine for his disorders.
(Id.) He received blood pressure medicine on that
day only. (Id. at 10, 11.) He asserts these health
care providers refused or failed to give him his prescribed
medicine from the day he was admitted until June 19, 2019.
(Id. at 10.) Short also contends a doctor issued a
special needs permit due to his seizure disorder, instructing
that he be housed on the lower tier of the cell block and in
a bottom bunk, but Defendant Mike Moore knowingly and
intentionally refused to honor the instruction. (Id.
asserts that Defendant Tariff Hall falsely accused him of
violating jail rules, leading to his being placed in solitary
confinement. (Id. at 11.) He contends that Defendant
Sergeant Davis denied him due process by not providing a
disciplinary hearing. (Id.) Officer Kenney allegedly
denied Short access to the law library because he was in
solitary confinement. (Id. at 11-12.) He asserts
that he had a non-frivolous legal action, as well as his
criminal case, pending during this time. (Id. at
14.) Mariel and Krester allegedly denied him dental care and
his prescription medicine while he was in solitary
confinement. (Id. at 12.) For three days he was
denied toilet paper, clean sheets, clean clothing and locked
Francis and Oscar, who are prison food service workers, are
alleged to have denied Short adequate serving portions of
food. (Id.) Short alleges that Defendant GEO Group,
Inc. has a policy to provide inadequate food portions to
force inmates to buy food from the commissary to satisfy
themselves and that it gives monetary bonuses to Francis and
Oscar to save it money on the costs of food. (Id. at
12, 13.) Pursuant to this policy, Francis and Oscar served
Short spoiled meat patties. Finally, Short alleges that he
informed Defendant Warden Byrne of the allegedly
unconstitutional conditions, but Byrne refused to respond to
his grievance. (Id. at 13.)
Court grants Short 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)(ii) applies, which requires the
Court to dismiss the Complaint if 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 Short 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).
noted above, Short brings his claims pursuant to § 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
has sued Warden Byrne on the ground that Short told him of
the conditions under which he is confined but Byrne refused
to respond to his grievance. (ECF No. 2 at 13.) 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 Short about grievances do not give rise to a
plausible basis for a constitutional claim and will be
dismissed with prejudice.
extent that Short has sued Warden Byrne because he is a
supervisor of other Defendants at GWH, that claim also fails.
There are “two general ways in which a
supervisor-defendant may be liable for unconstitutional acts
undertaken by subordinates.” Barkes v. First Corr.
Med., Inc., 766 F.3d 307, 316 (3d Cir. 2014),
reversed on other grounds by Taylor v. Barkes, 135
S.Ct. 2042 (2015). First, a supervisor may be liable if he or
she “‘with deliberate indifference to the
consequences, established and maintained a policy, practice
or custom which directly caused [the] constitutional
harm.” Id. (quoting A.M. ex rel. J.M.K. v.
Luzerne Cty. Juvenile Det. Ctr., 372 F.3d 572, 586 (3d
Cir. 2004) (alteration in original)). “Second, a
supervisor may be personally liable under § 1983 if he
or she participated in violating the plaintiff's rights,
directed others to violate them, or, as the person in charge,
had knowledge of and acquiesced in the subordinate's
unconstitutional conduct.” Id. Short does not
allege that Byrne was personally involved in the acts of
others about which he complains. Short's allegation that
Byrne “knows of these unconstitutional conditions . . .
but allows his subordinates to violate Plaintiff's
constitutional rights” (ECF No. 2 at 13) fails to
comply with Rule 8's requirement that Short provide
enough information to put a defendant on sufficient notice to
prepare a defense and also ensure that the Court is
sufficiently informed to determine the issue. While
Short's allegation against Defendant Byrne is ...