United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
LAMAR A. GRIFFIN, Plaintiff,
GEORGE W. HILL (CERT TEAM) CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, et al., Defendants.
E.K. PRATTER, J.
matter comes before the Court by way of a Complaint (ECF No.
2), brought by Plaintiff Lamar A. Griffin, proceeding pro
se. Also pending is Mr. Griffin's Motion to Proceed
In Forma Pauperis and Prisoner Trust Fund Account
Statement (ECF Nos. 5 & 6). Because it appears that Mr.
Griffin 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
without prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
l9l5(e)(2)(B)(ii). Mr. Griffin will be permitted to file an
Griffin, a pretrial detainee currently incarcerated at George
W. Hill Correctional Facility ("GWHCF"), brings
this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
alleging violations of his rights in connection with an
incident during which he was pepper sprayed and kicked in the
head. Mr. Griffin alleges that on September 2, 2019, he asked
to speak to a Sergeant or Lieutenant about the conditions on
his unit because there was "no air." (Compl. ECF
No. 2 at 5.) He claims that, in response, correctional
officers to whom he made his request "threatened
him" and told him to return to his cell, which was
"sweltering hot." (Id.) Correctional
Officer "Rashid" then locked the cell doors so the
inmates could not return to their cells.
unidentified correctional officer sprayed pepper spray, which
caused Mr. Griffin to choke and gag. Members of a "CERT
team" then "flooded the unit shooting inmates with
[a] pepper spray machine gun." (Id.) An unknown
officer on that team kicked Mr. Griffin on the left side of
his head while removing him from the cell where he sought
refuge. Mr. Griffin alleges he sustained "a small amount
of swelling above [his] left eye" and that his eye was
"in pain and bruised." (Id.)
Griffin was taken to a nurse for medical care. The nurse whom
he saw checked him for breathing problems and apparently gave
him ice for his bruised eye and a bruise on his leg where he
was hit with projectiles from the pepper spray gun. Mr.
Griffin notes, however, that he did not receive "x-rays
for head injury." (Id.)
on those allegations, the Court understands Mr. Griffin to be
bringing claims for excessive force and denial of medical
care. In the caption of his Complaint, he named
"George W. Hill (CERT team) Correctional Facility"
as the only defendant. However, in the body of his Complaint,
Mr. Griffin named as defendants Lt. Moody (identified as a
"Security Lt"), Corrections Officer Rashid, and
Officer "Sirodee" (identified as a corrections
officer and CERT member), who were not named as defendants in
the caption in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 10(a). (Id. at 2-3.) He also indicates,
with respect to those additional Defendants, that he is suing
them only in their official capacities. For relief, Mr.
Griffin asks the Court to "hold G.W. Hill accountable
for [his] apparent injuries" and seeks $100, 000.09 in
damages. (Id. at 5.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court will grant Mr. Griffin 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) 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 Mr. Griffin is
proceeding pro se, the Court construes his
allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655
F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).
complaint may be dismissed for failing to comply with Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 8. Garrett v. Wexford
Health, 938 F.3d 69, 91 (3d Cir. 2019). To conform to
Rule 8, a pleading must contain a short and plain statement
showing that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. See
Travaline v. U.S. Supreme Court, 424 Fed.Appx. 78, 79
(3d Cir. 2011). The Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently
explained that in determining whether a pleading meets Rule
8's "plain" statement requirement, the Court
should "ask whether, liberally construed, a pleading
'identifies discrete defendants and the actions taken by
these defendants' in regard to the plaintiffs
claims." Garrett, 938 F.3d at 93 (citation
omitted). A pleading may still satisfy the "plain"
statement requirement "even if it is vague, repetitious,
or contains extraneous information" and "even if it
does not include every name, date, and location of the
incidents at issue." Id. at 93-94. The
important consideration for the Court is whether, "a pro
se complaint's language ... presents cognizable legal
claims to which a defendant can respond on the merits."
Id. at 94.
"a pleading that is so 'vague or ambiguous' that
a defendant cannot reasonably be expected to respond to it
will not satisfy Rule 8." Id. at 93; see
also Fabian v. St. Mary's Med. Or., Civ. A. No.
16-4741, 2017 WL 3494219, at *3 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 11, 2017)
("Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 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.") (quotations omitted). Dismissals under Rule 8
are '"reserved for those cases in which the
complaint so confused, ambiguous, vague, or otherwise
unintelligible that its true substance, if any, is well
disguised.'" Garrett, 938 F.3d at 94
(quoting Salahuddin v. Cuomo, 861 F.2d 40, 42 (2d
Griffin's Complaint asserts claims for violations of his
civil rights pursuant to 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 defendant in a civil rights action must have personal
involvement in the alleged wrongs." See Rode v.
Dellarciprete, 845 F.2d 1195, 1207 (3d Cir. 1988).
Furthermore, "[b]ecause vicarious liability is
inapplicable to ... § 1983 suits, a plaintiff must plead
that each Government-official defendant, through the
official's own individual actions, has violated the
Constitution." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676.