United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
Talbert spent much of the last seven years in state prisons
awaiting trials on a variety of criminal charges under
Pennsylvania law. Like other prisoners, he complained about
the conditions of confinement and challenged his medical care
in prison. Unlike most prisoners, he pro se sued
many of those who supervised his detention and he also sued
the Secretary of the Department of Corrections and wardens
not directly involved in his grievances. As we detailed in an
April 5, 2019 Memorandum in No. 19-1340, he filed at least
fifty-four lawsuits as a pro se civil rights
litigant since 2012 challenging state actors without paying
the filing fees based on his alleged pauper
status. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act,
Congress precludes a prisoner from bringing claims in
forma pauperis if a court dismissed his claims as
lacking merit under the Prison Litigation Reform Act at least
three times. By April 5, 2019, we dismissed at least
four of his recent cases as frivolous, malicious, or for
failing to state a plausible claim for relief. Consistent
with Congress' mandate, we held Mr. Talbert may only
proceed with new claims without paying filing fees when he
shows the defendant places him in impending danger.
Congress precludes him from filing new cases without paying
fees after our April 5, 2019 Order in No. 19-1340, Mr.
Talbert then tried an end run: add claims and defendants to
cases against other correctional officers with no relation to
the pending case. We reject this end run.
Talbert may timely sue correctional officers and others he
believes deprive him of civil rights while incarcerated. But
Congress requires he pay the fees or show imminent harm from
the named defendant to avoid paying fees. We today deny his
motion to amend to add new claims to this case against state
actors with no temporal or substantive connection to the
underlying case. We also strike allegations against Officer
Shaniqua Ford unrelated to the claims in the original case
against Commissioner Carney and Wardens May and Clark which
resulted in a jury verdict against Mr. Talbert last month.
Talbert began another term of pretrial detention at
Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in late October
2017. Blanche Carney served as Philadelphia
Department of Prisons Commissioner and Gerald May served as
Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility Warden. Mr. Talbert
alleged Commissioner Carney and Warden May quickly reviewed
and approved a transfer request transferring Mr. Talbert from
Curran-Fromhold to the Detention Center. They did so, Mr.
Talbert claimed, "without notice, hearing, or chance to
object." Terrance Clark served as Detention
Center's Warden during Mr. Talbert's period of
arrival at the Detention Center, Mr. Talbert alleged
Commissioner Carney and Warden Clark "reviewed and
approved [Mr. Talbert] being left in administrative
segregation indefinitely." While housed in administrative
segregation, Mr. Talbert claims he experienced: "(A)
lack of shower, sleep, eating, and recreational time due to
the plague of mice and roach infestation on the entire
administrative housing unit[;] (B) damaged commissary from
mice chewing through its packages, costing hundreds of
dollars in financial loss[;] (C) lack of out-of- cell, and
outdoor exercise, that caused poor health conditions such as
high cholesterol, and aggravation to [Mr. Talbert's]
preexisting chronic lower back pain and spasms[;] (D)
deprived equal access to Islamic literature, and Emam, that
Christians had to Chaplains and Bibles[; and] (E)
post-traumatic stress, mental anguish, intentional infliction
of emotional distress, and forced to be on suicide
watch." Mr. Talbert complained these conditions
persisted from his transfer to the Detention Center sometime
after his arrest on October 31, 2017 until his release from
pretrial detention on March 2, 2018.
core, Mr. Talbert complained Commissioner Carney and Wardens
May and Clark retaliated against Mr. Talbert because he filed
numerous lawsuits against each of them, and they violated Mr.
Talbert's procedural due process rights by placing him in
administrative segregation without notice or an opportunity
for him to object.
proceeded through discovery and prepared to try Mr.
Talbert's case beginning in early September
dismissed at least three of his cases filed with leave to
proceed in forma pauperis, we
barred Mr. Talbert from filing new cases without
either paying the required fees or
demonstrating imminent harm from the named
Talbert filed at least fifty-four cases against state actors
in this Court since 2012. This Court granted him leave to
proceed in forma pauperis in these cases, including
this case against Commissioner Carney and Wardens May and
Clark. Upon review of a motion to proceed in forma
pauperis in No. 19-1340, we entered detailed
findings in a Memorandum supporting our denial of his motion
for leave on April 5, 2019. We then held he could only
proceed with new claims as a prisoner if he paid the filing
fee or demonstrated imminent harm presented by the named
Talbert amended to add claims against Officer Ford and
Lieutenant Muhollan arising from alleged conduct in January
and February 2019.
month after we barred him from filing new lawsuits without
paying fees or showing imminent harm, Mr. Talbert moved to
amend this case to add new claims against new state actors
challenging conduct occurring almost a year after the conduct
at issue here. Mindful of the liberal amendments under
Rule 15, we allowed Mr. Talbert to amend his complaint and
add claims against Officer Ford and Lieutenant Muhollan
subject to our review on the merits. His amended allegations
related to conduct allegedly beginning in January 2019 when
"Defendant Muhollan, established, and maintained, a
campaign of harassment in retaliation of [Mr. Talbert's]
filing a slew of lawsuits against the [Philadelphia
Department of Prisons]." Mr. Talbert alleged Lieutenant
Muhollan "called [Mr. Talbert] a jailhouse snitch,"
"threatened [Mr. Talbert] with serious bodily
injury," "called [Mr. Talbert] a 'nigger,
'" and "made false statements against [Mr.
Talbert] in a prison misconduct, in which on Feb. 6, 2019,
that misconduct, was declined by Cpt. Harmer, finding [Mr.
Talbert], 'not guilty.'" Mr. Talbert
alleged this conduct occurred between January 10, 2019 and
February 18, 2019.
Talbert made similar claims against Officer Ford. He alleged
Officer Ford "established, and maintained a campaign of
harassment and oppression, in retaliation of [Mr. Talbert]
filing a lawsuit upon [Philadelphia Department of Prisons
Commissioner] Carney." Mr. Talbert alleged Officer
Ford between February 20 and 27, 2019 told other inmates Mr.
Talbert "was a jailhouse snitch, and needed
stitches." When another inmate, Zhyare Knox,
reentered general population from disciplinary detention, Mr.
Talbert claims Mr. Knox told him Officer Ford called him a
snitch and "wanted [Mr. Talbert]
assaulted." Mr. Knox subsequently assaulted Mr.
Talbert, and prison staff transferred Mr. Talbert to
Torresdale Hospital for evaluation of a closed-head
injury. Mr. Talbert believed "[Officer]
Ford caused [Mr. Talbert] to be assaulted by [Mr.] Knox, in
retaliation of [Mr. Talbert] filing lawsuits against
[Commissioner] Carney and other [Philadelphia Department of
Prisons] staff members. The entirety of Officer Ford's
alleged conduct occurred between February 20, 2019 and
February 27, 2019.
dismissed Mr. Talbert's claims against Lieutenant
Muhollan as violative of the three strikes rule in the Prison
Litigation Reform Act.
Talbert effected service of his amended Complaint upon
Lieutenant Muhollan who promptly moved to strike the
allegations against him as violating the three strikes rule
in the Prison Litigation Reform Act under our April 5, 2019
Order in No. 19-1340. He did not serve Officer Shaniqua Ford
with the amended Complaint until mid-September.
granted Lieutenant Muhollan's request to strike Mr.
Talbert's allegations against him.Because we
dismissed Mr. Talbert at least three times and his claims
against Lieutenant Muhollan did not constitute imminent
danger, we lacked a basis to allow Mr. Talbert to proceed
in forma pauperis with these new claims under our
April 5, 2019 Order. Further, Mr. Talbert complained of
Lieutenant Muhollan's conduct between January 2019 and
February 2019, but he filed his original lawsuit against
Commissioner Carney and Wardens May and Clark in April 2018
complaining of conduct occurring between November 2017 and
February 2018. These new claims attempted to end run
our April 5, 2019 Order in No. 19-1340 requiring Mr. Talbert
pay the fees or demonstrate imminent harm if he wished to
proceed. If we sustained Mr. Talbert's claims
against Lieutenant Muhollan it would "undermine  our
earlier dismissal of the same claims under the Prison
Litigation Reform Act."
jury finds in favor of Commissioner Carney and Wardens May
Talbert tried hjs case to jury verdict on September 5,
2019. The jury unanimously found in favor of
Commissioner Carney and Wardens May and Clark and against Mr.
Talbert with respect to his claims concerning his pretrial
detention from October 2017 through March 2018.
Talbert then moved for a new trial and renewed his motion for
a judgment as a matter of law. We today deny his post-trial
Talbert served Officer Ford after our September
Mr. Talbert's September 2019 trial against Commissioner
Carney and Wardens May and Clark, we stayed his as-yet
unserved claims against Officer Ford "to be resolved
after service upon [her], evaluations of her defenses and in
accord with a scheduling Order setting deadlines and trial
addressing those claims."
United States Marshal returned Mr. Talbert's original
Summons for the amended Complaint to Officer Ford as
unexecuted because she "could not be located without
additional identifying information." We ordered
Mr. Talbert to show cause as to why we should not dismiss
Officer Ford for his failure to prosecute. He complied
with our Order and stated he filed another "285
form" with the United States Marshal with Officer
Ford's correct name and identifying
information. We then ordered the Clerk of Court to
amend the docket with Officer Ford's correct name and
identifying information and issue summons to Officer Ford,
and for the United States Marshal to reattempt service of
summons and Mr. Talbert's amended complaint on Officer
United States Marshal successfully served Officer Ford with
the amended Complaint on September 12, 2019 following the
jury verdict in this case. Officer Ford now moves to
strike allegations against her in the amended Complaint as
violative of the Prison Litigation Reform Act under our April
5, 2019 Order.
Talbert moves to add claims in this case against Commissioner
Carney, Wardens May, Clark and
Delaney, Lieutenant Murray, and Officer Ford challenging the
2017 conduct adjudicated by the
jury and a February 2019 assault by another
Talbert now requests we allow him to amend his amended
Complaint "to conform to the evidence before and after
the judgment was entered ..., " He identifies five
reasons why we should permit his amendments: "(1) leave
shall be freely given [under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
15] when justice so requires[;] (2) newly discovered evidence
and acts of Defendants were established before, during, and
after the filing of the original pleadings[;] (3) fraud,
perjury, and misrepresentation have been recognized before
the Court[;] (4) the names of new Defendants are made part of
newly discovered evidence which caused [Mr. Talbert's]
rights to be violated[; and] (5) amendment is appropriate in
order for [Mr. Talbert] to adequately mike a pleading to
conform with all evidence made subject of the original
wishes to supplement claims against Commissioner Carney and
Warden May and Clark related to his administrative
segregation tried to the jury in early September. Mr.
Talbert's proposed amendments with respect to
Commissioner Carney and Wardens May and Clark are
indistinguishable from Mr. Talbert's amended Complaint.
He again complains of his transfer from Curran-Fromhold to
the Detention Center in 2017 and his placement in
administrative segregation for an indeterminate period of
time. He alleges Commissioner Carney and
Wardens May and Clark did so as "a punishment for an
exercise of [Mr. Talbert's] right to seek
Talbert then asserts Commissioner Carney and Wardens May and
Clark "committed fraud and misrepresented facts to the
Court and to the jury in regard to their knowledge of [Mr.
Talbert's] settled lawsuits filed against
them." Mr. Talbert now attempts to again amend
his complaint to include claims concerning Commissioner
Carney and Wardens May and Clark's conduct at trial.
Talbert also attempts to bring new, unrelated claims against
current Curran-Fromhold Warden Delaney and Curran-Fromhold
Lieutenant Murray for conduct in February 2019 and March
2019. Mr. Talbert alleges when he began a new
period of pretrial detention in late February 2019,
Lieutenant Murray served as his general population unit
Lieutenant. He spoke to Lieutenant Murray "[o]n
numerous occasions between February 20th, and February 27th,
2019 . .. concerning [Officer] Fords [sic]
interminable disrespect towards [Mr. Talbert] ...
Talbert alleges Commissioner Carney forwarded a "routing
slip" for one of Mr. Talbert's grievance forms to
Warden Delaney on March 22, 2019. Three days later,
Lieutenant Murray "knowingly, intentionally, and
maliciously attempted to cover up" evidence related to
Mr. Knox's assaulting Mr. Talbert. Warden
Delaney and Lieutenant Murray then forwarded evidence of his
assault to the Philadelphia Police Department which
"place[d] [Mr. Talbert] at serious risk of danger by
other inmates by being labeled a snitch."
Talbert's new complaints against Warden Delaney and
Lieutenant Murray relate to conduct occurring between
February and March 2019. They do not relate to Mr.
Talbert's underlying claims concerning his placement in
administrative segregation resolved by the jury.
Talbert proposes no substantive amendments to his claims in
his amended Complaint against Officer Ford. His claims relate
to conduct between February and March 2019 and do not
implicate his underlying complaints about his administrative
segregation in 2017 and early 2018 resolved by the