United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
J. PAPPERT, J.
Shelton, a prisoner currently incarcerated at SCI-Rockview,
has filed an amended complaint asserting claims pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on the destruction of personal
property at SCI-Graterford, and the resulting denial of
Shelton's access to the court. (ECF No. 7.) For the
reasons set forth herein, the Court will dismiss
Shelton's claims with prejudice.
to Shelton's original Complaint, he was an inmate at
SCI-Graterford on June 29, 2018. He alleges that on that
date, Correction Officer Martin disposed of items including
“case discovery, testimony notes, exhibits, personal
hand-written notes and 5 post dated pictures, ” and
that Defendant John Doe spoke in a manner suggesting that
inmates' property would be sold at auction. (ECF No. 2 at
Shelton claimed that, as a result of the loss of his legal
materials, he was unable to pursue claims seeking to prove
his innocence. (Id. at 5.) Shelton filed a grievance
based on the loss of his property, but the grievance was
denied. (Id. at 7.) Accordingly, he filed this
lawsuit against Martin and John Doe to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
alleging violations of his First Amendment right to access
the court and his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process.
(Id. at 3.)
granting Shelton leave to proceed in forma pauperis,
the Court screened the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C §
1915(e)(2)(B). The Court concluded that Shelton had failed to
state a claim for denial of access to the courts because
Shelton's Complaint did not describe the underlying cause
of action, “an element that must be described in the
complaint.” Christopher v. Harbury, 536 U.S.
02, 415 (2002); (see also ECF No. 5 at 3-4.)
However, the Court granted Shelton leave to file an amended
complaint. (Id. at 4; ECF No. 6.)
has filed an Amended Complaint, again naming Defendant Martin
and a John Doe Defendant. (ECF No. 7.) He again advances
Fourteenth Amendment Due Process and First Amendment access
to the court claims based on the destruction of his legal
materials, including photographs and contact information.
(Id. at 3, 5, 12.) He alleges he lost “case
discovery, testimony notes, exhibits, personal hand-written
notes, and over 30 post dated pictures that were very
important and were to be newly discovered evidence.”
(Id. at 12.) He claims that the loss of these
materials “has obstructed [his] opportunity to litigate
a claim to challenge [his] sentence in the court of law,
” and “inhibited [his] opportunity to present a
past legal claim that is ‘nonfrivolous' and
‘arguable.'” (Id.) He seeks
compensatory damages. (Id. at 5.)
Shelton is proceeding in forma pauperis, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) applies. This requires the Court to
dismiss the Amended Complaint if it fails to state a claim.
Whether the Amended 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
Shelton is proceeding pro se, the Court must
construe his allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att'y
Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).
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).
the Court's dismissal with prejudice of his due process
claim based on the deprivation of his personal property,
(see ECF No. 5 at 2-3, ) Shelton purports to renew
the claim in his Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 7 at 12.) The
Court can only reiterate that, because the prison grievance
system and Pennsylvania law provide Shelton with adequate
remedies, there is no basis for a due process claim and the
claim, once again, will be dismissed with prejudice.
Amended Complaint includes an amended access to courts claim.
(ECF No. 7 at 4, 5, 12.) “Under the First and
Fourteenth Amendments, prisoners retain a right of access to
the courts.” Monroe v. Beard, 536 F.3d 198,
205 (3d Cir. 2008). “A prisoner making an
access-to-the-courts claim is required to show that the
denial of access caused actual injury.” Jackson v.
Whalen, 568 Fed.Appx. 85, 87 (3d Cir. 2014) (per curiam)
(quoting Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 350 (1996)).
In other words, a prisoner claiming that he was denied access
to the courts must allege an injury traceable to the
conditions of which he complains. Diaz v. Holder,
532 Fed.Appx. 61, 63 (3d Cir. 2013) (per curiam) (affirming
dismissal of denial of access claims where plaintiff failed
to tie alleged deficiencies in library to harm in underlying
action). In general, an actual injury occurs when a prisoner
demonstrates that a “nonfrivolous” and
“arguable” claim was lost because of the denial
of access to the courts. Christopher v. Harbury, 536
U.S. 403, 415 (2002). “[T]he underlying cause of
action, . . . is an element that must be described ...