United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
GREGORY C. FOX, Plaintiff,
ROBERT MALINOWSKI, et al., Defendants.
KAROLINE MEHALCHICK, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the Court is a complaint, (Doc. 1), filed by pro
se prisoner-Plaintiff Gregory C. Fox (hereinafter
referred to as “Fox”) on April 1, 2019. In his
complaint, Fox seeks unspecified damages against the
following Defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983:
Trooper Robert Malinowski, individually and in his official
capacity; Terri Somer; C.O. Owens; and Lackawanna County. At
the time he filed his complaint, Fox was incarcerated at the
State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill (âSCI-Camp
Hillâ), located in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. (Doc. 1).
Johnson has since been transferred to the State Correctional
Institution at Dallas (âSCI-Dallasâ), located in Luzerne
County, Pennsylvania. (Doc. 8, at 13).
Court has conducted its statutorily-mandated screening of the
complaint in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). For the reasons provided herein,
the Court finds that this complaint (Doc. 1) (Doc. 8) fails
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and grants
Fox leave to amend.
Background and Procedural History
proceeding pro se, initiated the instant action by
filing a complaint in this matter in the Eastern District of
Pennsylvania (“Eastern District”) on April 1,
2019. (Doc. 1). That District determined that
the events giving rise to Fox's claims occurred in the
Middle District of Pennsylvania (“Middle
District”) and that the Defendants are located in the
Middle District. The Eastern District accordingly transferred
the case to the Middle District on April 8, 2019. On April
26, 2019, Fox filed an amendment to his original complaint
(Doc. 8), which, because it lacks a caption, the Court
liberally construes to incorporate the original complaint.
also filed motions to stay the action, and to hold it in
abeyance, until October 2, 2019, when he is released from
custody, so as to allow him opportunity to obtain counsel.
(Doc. 7); (Doc. 14). The Court will consider and address
these motions herein.
complaint alleges that on September 12, 2018, an
unidentified individual from the CCC Center in Scranton
reported to Defendant Malinowski that Fox submitted a
positive urine sample. (Doc. 8, at 5). Fox, at the time, was
an inmate in the State Intermediate Punishment (SIP) Program.
(Doc. 9, at 5). Fox states that this urine report prompted
him to leave the CCC Center, so they reported him as an
escapee. (Doc. 8, at 5). It appears that Fox then traveled to
his home, and police arrived shortly thereafter. (Doc. 8, at
8). Fox claims that his girlfriend opened the door, and that
police “proceeded to push and force their way
in.” (Doc. 8, at 8). Police subsequently detained Fox
and informed him that he was under arrest. (Doc. 8, at 8).
Fox alleges that police did not possess an arrest warrant nor
a search warrant when this was done. (Doc. 8, at 8). He
claims that these actions violate his Constitutional right of
protection against unreasonable search and seizure under the
Fourth Amendment. (Doc. 8, at 5).
goes on to state that on October 29, 2018, he was notified
that he had been expelled from SIP for leaving the building
without providing a urine sample. (Doc. 8, at 5-6). This, Fox
claims, was in violation of his Constitutional right to
procedural due process under the 14th Amendment.
(Doc. 8, at 6). Fox also states that his 4th,
8th, and 14th Amendment rights were
violated by him being committed to Lackawanna County Prison,
(Doc. 8, at 6), and alleges supplemental state law claims of
false imprisonment, abuse of process, and intentional
infliction of emotional distress. (Doc. 1, at 3).
matter is now before the Court pursuant to its statutory
obligation under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e) to screen the complaint and dismiss it
if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court is obligated, prior to
service of process, to screen a civil complaint in which a
prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer
or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(a); James v. Pa. Dep't of Corr., 230 F.
App'x. 195, 197 (3d Cir. 2007).The Court must
dismiss the complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1);
Mitchell v. Dodrill, 696 F.Supp.2d 454, 471 (M.D.
Pa. 2010). The Court has a similar obligation with respect to
actions brought in forma pauperis. See28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). In this case, because Johnson is a
prisoner suing a governmental employee and brings his suit
in forma pauperis, both provisions apply. In
performing this mandatory screening function, a district
court applies the same standard applied to motions to dismiss
under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Mitchell, 696 F.Supp.2d at 471; Banks v. Cnty.
of Allegheny, 568 F.Supp.2d 579, 588 (W.D. Pa. 2008).
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes a
defendant to move to dismiss for “failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). The United States Court of Appeals for the Third
Circuit has noted the evolving standards governing pleading
practice in federal court, stating that:
Standards of pleading have been in the forefront of
jurisprudence in recent years. Beginning with the Supreme
Court's opinion in Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), continuing with our
opinion in Phillips v. [County of Allegheny, 515
F.3d 224 (3d Cir. 2008)] and culminating recently with the
Supreme Court's decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662 (2009), pleading standards have seemingly
shifted from simple notice pleading to a more heightened ...