United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
D. WOLSON, J.
Robbie Robinson filed this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 based on allegations related to the loss of his
property during his transfer from SCI Graterford to SCI
Fayette. Mr. Robinson seeks leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. For the following reasons, the Court will
grant Mr. Robinson leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. However, the Court will dismiss his Complaint
The Alleged Theft Of Mr. Robinson's Property
April 27, 2018, Mr. Robinson pled guilty to criminal charges
in the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas for Chester County.
Mr. Robinson pled guilty pursuant to a plea agreement that
would, among other things, enroll him in Pennsylvania's
Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive (“RRRI”)
program and have him housed close to his family. Mr. Robinson
was initially housed either at SCI Graterford or SCI Phoenix.
His complaint references both. (Compare ECF No. 1 at
§ II.D., ¶¶ 3, 4 with Id. at
§§ IV.A., IV.E.) While there, he learned that he
was not enrolled in the RRRI program and he was going to be
transferred to SCI Fayette.
Robinson prepared, but had not yet filed, a pro se
petition for relief under the Pennsylvania Post-Conviction
Relief Act (“PCRA”), 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. §
9541. On July 24, 2018, before Mr. Robinson was able to copy
and mail his PCRA petition, he was removed from his cell
without his legal and personal property and taken to the
Restricted Housing Unit (“RHU”) pending his
transfer. He asked about his property and was told that Sgt.
Curran, Officer Rogers and the property room staff were going
to process the property and bring the paper work to the RHU.
No. one came, however. Instead, Sgt. Curran relayed to Mr.
Robinson that Mr. Robinson would not get any of his property
if anyone asked about Mr. Robinson's property again.
Robinson was transferred on July 26, 2018 without his
property, including the apparently as yet unfiled
post-conviction petition and certain transcripts. Mr.
Robinson filed a grievance with the Superintendent, Defendant
Tammy Ferguson. Superintendent Ferguson confirmed that
Robinson's property was lost and informed Mr. Robinson
that, notwithstanding the loss, his request to be reimbursed
was not reasonable. Mr. Robinson asserts that Superintendent
Ferguson was deliberately indifferent to his First and
Fourteenth Amendment rights and condoned the disregard of
policies regarding prisoner property by Sgt. Curran and
Mr. Robinson's PCRA Petition
Robinson ultimately filed a pro se PCRA petition in
order avoid being time barred. The publicly-available docket
demonstrates that Mr. Robinson filed his post-conviction
petition along with a Memorandum of Law on April 12, 2019. On
May 13, 2019, Robinson filed a Petition for Immediate Release
Due to Government Interference. That Petition was denied by
order entered on May 22, 2019, and Robinson filed a pro
se notice of appeal on June 7, 2019. In the Court of
Common Pleas, counsel was appointed to represent Mr.
Robinson. However, on August 28, 2019, his appointed counsel
filed a letter pursuant to Commonwealth v. Finely,
550 A.2d 213 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1988), asserting that Mr.
Robinson had no viable post-conviction claim. Mr. Robinson
alleges that his appointed counsel filed the Finely
letter because Mr. Robinson could not support his claim as a
result of the missing property. Mr. Robinson responded to the
Finely letter on September 18, 2019.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
plaintiff seeking leave to proceed in forma pauperis
must establish that he is unable to pay for the costs of his
suit. See Walker v. People Express Airlines, Inc.,
886 F.2d 598, 601 (3d Cir. 1989). Where, as here, a court
grants a plaintiff leave to proceed in forma
pauperis, the Court must determine whether the complaint
states a claim on which relief may be granted. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). That inquiry requires the
Court to apply the standard for a motion to dismiss under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Under that standard, the Court must
take all well-pleaded allegations as true, interpret them in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and draw all
inferences in his favor. See Securities and Exchange
Comm'n v. Gentile, 939 F.3d 549, 552 n.1 (3d Cir.
2019). Moreover, because Mr. Robinson is proceeding pro
se, the Court must construe his pleadings liberally.
See Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d
Leave To Proceed In Forma Pauperis
Robinson provided information demonstrating that he lacks the
income or assets to pay the required filing fees. (ECF Nos.
4, 5.) Therefore, the Court ...