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Shade v. Welsh

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

October 16, 2019

TROY ADAM SHADE, Plaintiff,
v.
PETER J. WELSH, et al., Defendants.

          TROY ADAM SHADE, SCI-RETREAT, HUNLOCK CREEK, PENNSYLVANIA. PRO SE PLAINTIFF.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Troy Adam Shade, an inmate at SCI-Retreat in Hunlock Creek, Pennsylvania, filed this Complaint alleging inaction by Defendants in a lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. (D.I. 1). Plaintiff appears pro se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (D.I. 14). The Court screens and reviews the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(a).

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Acting Clerk of Court Peter J. Welsh and the Office of the Clerk for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania are "willfully acting with wanton malice intent" by "failing to forward" his "legal court action filings to the Courts for processing and to the defendants and the defendants' attorneys by electronic filing or by the Marshal's Service" in an action he filed in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Shade v. Stanish, Civ. No. 18-1429-CCC-CA (M.D. Pa.). (D.I. 1 at 1(capitalization altered)). Plaintiff explains that he mailed and filed the civil action forms with the U.S. Marshals Service forms on July 18, 2018, and in the mailing informed Welsh and the Clerk's Office that he would be mailing the "actual civil complaint" within the next several weeks because, at the time, he did not have adequate funds for postage. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that he mailed the "actual civil complaint" on August 14, 2018. (Id.).

         The Court takes judicial notice that the Court docket for Shade v. Stanish indicates that Plaintiff's initial filing was docketed as a Complaint on July 17, 2018 at Docket Item 1 and that Plaintiff's August filing was docketed on August 16, 2018, as a Supplement to the Complaint at Docket Item 6. See Stanish, Civ. No. 18-1429-CCC-CA at D.I. 1 and D.I. 6. An October 30, 2018 docket entry states that waiver of service forms, the waiver order, and the Complaint consisting of Docket Item 1 and the Supplement at Docket Item 6 were mailed to Defendants pursuant to the Court's Order of the same date. Id. at D.I. 9 and D.I. 10.

         Plaintiff alleges that on November 19, 2018, counsel for Stanish Defendants Stanley Stanish and Brian Dougherty filed a motion for a more definite statement and stated that they did not receive Plaintiffs "civil complaint which was filed." (D.I. 1 at 1-2). The Court takes judicial notice that the supporting brief for the motion refers to the original pleading at Docket Item 1 and states that after four months, Plaintiff had yet to "supplement the Statement of Facts" in the original Complaint. Stanish, Civ. No. 18-1429-CCC-CA at D.I. 13 at 6 and D.I. 22 at 2. Plaintiff alleges that on or about December 2, 2018, he filed a motion for service of the Stanish complaint and, as of January 25, 2019, he had not received a "confirmation Court order" or notice of other action. (D.I. 1 at 2).

         Plaintiff alleges that on January 7, 2019, counsel for other Stanish Defendants sent him a copy of a motion for a more definite statement, and the motion claimed that these Defendants did not receive Plaintiffs complaint. (Id.). The Court takes judicial notice that the Court docket indicates these Defendants filed their motion for a more definite statement on December 31, 2018, and a supporting brief on January 7, 2019. See Stanish, Civ. No. 18-1429-CCC-CA at D.I. 25, and D.I. 26. The supporting brief makes specific reference to the Supplement at Docket Item 6 and states, "Plaintiff did not seek leave of Court to amend the complaint filed. In a subsequent filing, labeled a 'Complaint,' Plaintiff makes allegations of. . . violations of his civil rights .... (Doc. 6)." Id. at D.I. 26 at 2.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants did not include the "actual civil complaint" with the civil forms when served upon Defendants. (D.I. 1 at 2). He asks the Court to take appropriate action and seeks injunctive relief to instruct Defendants to immediately serve the defendants in Stanish with the "actual civil complaint" and to moot Defendants' motions for a more definite statement. (D.I. 1 at 2). The Court takes judicial notice that on June 21, 2019, an Order was entered in the Stanish case that dismissed without prejudice Defendants' motions for a more definite statement, found that it was "evident" that Plaintiff filed a supplement to the Complaint at Docket Item 6, and noted that Defendants had acknowledged in their filings that Plaintiff had filed a supplemental pleading. Stanish, Civ. No. 18-1429-CCC-CA at D.I. 42.

         SCREENING OF COMPLAINT

         A federal court may properly dismiss an action sua sponte under the screening provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and § 1915A(b) if "the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." Bali v. Famiglio, 726 F.3d 448, 452 (3d Cir. 2013). See also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) (in forma pauperis actions); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A (actions in which prisoner seeks redress from a governmental defendant); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e (prisoner actions brought with respect to prison conditions). The Court must accept all factual allegations in a complaint as true and take them in the light most favorable to a pro se plaintiff. Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 229 (3d Cir. 2008); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007). Because Plaintiff proceeds pro se, his pleading is liberally construed and his complaint, "however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. at 94.

         An action is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and § 1915A(b)(1), a court may dismiss a complaint as frivolous if it is "based on an indisputably meritless Segal theory" or a "clearly baseless" or "fantastic or delusional" factual scenario. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327-28; Wilson v. Rackmill, 878 F.2d 772, 774 (3dCir. 1989).

         The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and § 1915A(b)(1) is identical to the legal standard used when ruling on Rule 12(b)(6) motions. Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236, 240 (3d Cir. 1999). However, before dismissing a complaint or claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to the screening provisions of 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A, the Court must grant Plaintiff leave to amend his complaint unless amendment would be inequitable or futile. See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d103, 114 (3d Cir. 2002).

         A well-pleaded complaint must contain more than mere labels and conclusions. See Ashcrott v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,550 U.S. 544 (2007). A plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to show that a claim has substantive plausibility. See Johnson v. City of Shelby,574 U.S. 10 (2014). A complaint may not dismissed, ...


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