United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
E.K. PRATTER, J.
Gerald Edwards, who is representing himself (proceeding pro
se), filed this civil action against Sandra Morgan
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This is one of several
cases Mr. Edwards has filed in this Court arising from
proceedings in state court that led to his conviction on
citations for various property violations. Mr. Edwards seeks
leave to proceed in forma pauperis. For the
following reasons, the Court will grant Mr. Edwards leave to
proceed in forma pauperis and dismiss his Complaint.
Edwards's Complaint consists of sparse, unclear, rambling
allegations. His claims appear to be premised on his
dissatisfaction with proceedings in a summary appeal in the
Bucks County Court of Common Pleas in which he was found
guilty of numerous violations of local ordinances related to
maintenance of his property, and a related appeal to the
Pennsylvania Superior Court. See Commonwealth v.
Edwards, 2302 EDA 2019 (Pa. Super. Ct); Commonwealth
v. Edwards, CP-09-SA-0000219-2018 (C.P Bucks Cty.). All
his allegations, to the extent they can be understood,
pertain to the manner in which the proceedings unfolded in
state court. (Compl. ECF No. 2 at 7-10.)
Edwards identifies Ms. Morgan as a Code Enforcement Officer
for Middle Town Township. (Id. at 6.) The only
factual allegation against Ms. Morgan concerns her testimony
in court, which Mr. Edwards describes as
"confused." (Id. at 8.) Mr. Edwards seeks
$500, 000 in damages for "undue hardship" in
connection with "mental distress." (Id. at
the eighth lawsuit that Mr. Edwards has filed in
approximately thirteen months stemming from the citations,
the related court proceedings, and jail time he served in
connection with the proceedings. See Edwards v.
Morgan, Civ. A. No. 18-4776 (E.D. Pa.); Edwards v.
McDermott, Civ. A. No. 18-4777 (E.D. Pa.); Edwards
v. Morgan, Civ. A No. 19-1897 (E.D. Pa.); Edwards v.
Rice, Civ. A. No. 19-3559 (E.D. Pa.); Edwards v.
Baranoski, Civ. A. No. 19-4609 (E.D. Pa.); Edwards
v. Freed, Civ. A. No. 19-4851 (E.D. Pa); Edwards v.
Bucks Cty. Corr. Facility, Civ. A. No. 19-4923 (E.D.
Pa.). He is already proceeding against Ms. Morgan in one of
those lawsuits on claims related to Ms. Morgan entering his
property on July 12, 2018, and searching his mailbox on
October 22, 2018. Edwards v. Morgan, Civ. A. No.
19-1897 (E.D. Pa.).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court will grant Mr. Edwards leave to proceed in forma
pauperis because it appears that he is not capable of
paying the fees to commence this civil action. Accordingly,
Mr. Edwards's Complaint is subject to 28 U.S.C. §
l9l5(e)(2)(B)(i) and (ii), which requires the Court to
dismiss the Complaint if it frivolous or fails to state a
claim. A complaint is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable
basis either in law or in fact," Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989), and is legally
baseless if it is "based on an indisputably meritless
legal theory." Deutsch v. United States, 67
F.3d 1080, 1085 (3d Cir. 1995). To survive dismissal, the
complaint must contain "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). "[M]ere
conclusory statements  do not suffice." Id.
As Mr. Edwards is proceeding pro se, the Court
construes his allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att'y
Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires a complaint to
contain "a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief."
"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." Fabian v. St. Mary's Med. Ctr., No.
Civ. A. 16-4741, 2017 WL 3494219, at *3 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 11,
2017) (quotations omitted). A district court may sua
sponte dismiss a complaint that does not comply with
Rule 8 if "the complaint is so confused, ambiguous,
vague, or otherwise unintelligible that its true substance,
if any, is well disguised." Simmons v. Abruzzo,
49 F.3d 83, 86 (2d Cir. 1995) (quotations omitted).
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" to be liable. See
Rode v. Dellarciprete, 845 F.2d 1195, 1207 (3d Cir.
1988). Mr. Edwards has not stated a legal basis for a claim
against Ms. Morgan for the following reasons.
witnesses enjoy absolute immunity from § 1983 suits for
damages based upon their proffered testimony, so Mr. Edwards
may not proceed on any claims against Ms. Morgan based on her
testimony against him in court. See Briscoe v.
ZaHue, 460 U.S. 325, 341-46(1983). Second, Mr.
Edwards's allegations are confusing and jumbled, and many
do not even pertain to Ms. Morgan, so they cannot establish a
basis for a claim against her. Third, this Court has already
explained to Mr. Edwards in resolving similar claims against
Ms. Morgan that "it is not clear how Ms. Morgan, a code
enforcement officer, could be held responsible for the state
courts' handling of proceedings related to the
citations." Edwards v. Morgan, Civ. A. No.
19-1897, 2019 WL 2407478, at *3 (E.D. Pa. June 5, 2019).
Finally, Mr. Edwards is already proceeding on claims against
Ms. Morgan in a previously-filed, pending lawsuit that
relates to the same underlying subject matter. Curtis v.
Citibank, N.A., 226 F.3d 133, 138 (2d Cir. 2000) (noting
that "[a]s part of its general power to administer its
docket, a district court may stay or dismiss a suit that is
duplicative of another federal court suit"). In sum,
there is no non-frivolous, plausible basis upon which Mr.
Edwards may proceed in this case.
foregoing reasons, the Court will grant Mr. Edwards leave to
proceed in forma pauperis and dismiss his Complaint.
As it appears amendment would be futile, especially in light
of Mr. Edwards's litigation history, the Court will
dismiss this case with prejudice. Mr. Edwards should note
that the repeated filing of duplicative lawsuits raising
claims that the Court has already addressed and dismissed may
result in restrictions on filing privileges in the future.
See Abdul-Akbar v. Watson,901 F.2d 329, 333 (3d
Cir. 1990) ("When a district court is confronted with a
pattern of conduct from which it can only conclude that a
litigant is intentionally abusing the judicial process and
will continue to do so unless restrained, we believe it is
entitled to resort to its power of injunction and contempt to
protect its ...