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Fonseca v. Berdanier

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

December 11, 2019

FERNANDO FONSECA, Jr., BRADLEY L. MERWINE, WILLIE JAMES BROWN, Plaintiffs
v.
GENE BERDANIER, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          MALACHY E. MANNION UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Background

         Seventeen inmates, all housed in Schuylkill County Prison, Pottsville, Pennsylvania, filed the above captioned action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. (Doc. 1). The named Defendants are fourteen correctional officers employed at Schuylkill County Prison and William Baldwin, Schuylkill County Prison Board President. Id.

         By Order dated August 19, 2019, this Court issued a Thirty (30) Day Administrative Order, requiring each Plaintiff to file a completed and signed Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis, or pay the filing fee, within thirty days. (Doc. 5).

         To date, Plaintiffs Fonseca, Merwine, and Brown are the only Plaintiffs to submit an application requesting leave to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. §1915. Consequently, the remaining Plaintiffs will be dismissed from the above captioned action for failure to file a completed and signed Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis, or pay the filing fee.

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (the "Act"), Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis, or pay the filing fee 1321 (April 26, 1996) imposes obligations on prisoners who file suit in federal court and wish to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. §1915, e.g., the full filing fee ultimately must be paid (at least in a non-habeas suit). Also, the section requires screening complaints in prisoner actions.[1]

         The complaint will now be reviewed pursuant to the screening provisions of the Act. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs' request for injunctive relief will be dismissed and Plaintiffs' claims for damages will proceed.

         When considering a complaint accompanied by a motion to proceed in forma pauperis, a district court may determine that process should not be issued if the complaint is malicious, presents an indisputably meritless legal theory, or is predicated on clearly baseless factual contentions. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989); Wilson v. Rackmill, 878 F.2d 772, 774 (3d Cir. 1989).[2] “The frivolousness determination is a discretionary one, ” and trial courts “are in the best position” to determine when an indigent litigant's complaint is appropriate for summary dismissal. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992).

         II. Allegations in the Complaint

         The Plaintiffs make the following ten claims regarding the conditions of the Schuylkill County Prison:

1. There is mold growing in the cinder block near the showers.
2. The ceiling tiles have fell and are falling in the block and above tables where individuals eat with particles that fall from ceiling.
3. There are electric extension cords bare in the shower area attached to the railing which is rust.
4. The kitchen is not serving the proper portion of food and inmates are being mal nutriented (sic) and deprived of the proper amount of ...

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