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Bailey v. Barrett

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

October 31, 2019

THOMAS E. BAILEY, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
JUDGE PATRICK T. BARRETT, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          GERALD A. McHUGH, J.

         Pro se Plaintiff Thomas E. Bailey, Jr., a pretrial detainee currently confined at Berks County Prison, filed the instant civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. His claims concern his recent transportation to and from the Berks County Court of Common Pleas by the Berks County Sheriff's Office. He has also filed a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. The United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania transferred the case to this district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a) because the Complaint concerns events that took place in Berks County. See 28 U.S.C. § 118(a). Prior to the transfer, four state judges who were named as Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss, to which Bailey has not responded. For the following reasons, the Court will grant Bailey leave to proceed in forma pauperis, dismiss his Complaint with prejudice, and deny the pending Motion as moot.

         I. FACTS

         Bailey named the following Defendants in his Complaint: (1) Judge Patrick T. Barrett; (2) Judge Paul M. Yatron; (3) Judge Thomas G. Parisi; (4) Judge Eleni Dimitriou Geishauser (misspelled “Eleni Dinitriou Geinhouser” in the caption); (5) the Berks County Jail System (abbreviated “BCJS” in the caption); (6) the County of Berks; and (7) the Berks County Sheriff's Office (identified as “Berks Sheriffs Dept.” in the caption). Bailey is suing the named judges in their individual and official capacities.

         Bailey alleges that he was assaulted by officers of the Berks County Sheriff's Office in 2016, and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the assault.[1] Bailey indicates that in 2018 and 2019, Judges Barrett, Yatron, Parisi, and Geishauser directed the Berks County Sheriff's Office to transport him to and from court in connection with criminal proceedings before them in which Bailey is a defendant.[2] The Court understands the basis for Bailey's Complaint to be that the Defendants violated his constitutional rights by arranging for transport by the Berks County Sheriff's Office despite their alleged knowledge of the the 2016 assault. Bailey indicates that on some occasions when he is transported to the court, he is held in the same room in which he was previously assaulted. (Compl. ECF No. 1 at 5.)[3] Bailey also alleges that he is handcuffed and shackled during these times, sometimes for hours. (Id. at 8.)

         Bailey claims that he is suffering from ongoing mental health problems as a result of the “continued secondary victimization.” (Id.) Bailey also indicates that he will need to be treated for these mental health issues for the rest of his life. (Id.) He seeks monetary damages from the Defendants.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The Court will grant Bailey leave to proceed in forma pauperis because it appears that he is incapable of paying the fees to commence this civil action.[4] Accordingly, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) requires the Court to dismiss the Complaint if, among other things, it is frivolous or fails to state a claim. A complaint is frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact, ” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989), and is legally baseless if it is “based on an indisputably meritless legal theory.” Deutsch v. United States, 67 F.3d 1080, 1085 (3d Cir. 1995).

         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 Bailey is proceeding pro se, the Court construes his allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).

         III. DISCUSSION

         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 party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.

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).

         A. Claims ...


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