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Evans v. Digiovanni

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

December 30, 2019

ZACHARY T. EVANS, Plaintiff.
CAITLIN DIGIOVANNI, et al., Defendants.


          Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Zachary T. Evans, a state prisoner incarcerated at SCI Mahanoy in Frackville, Pennsylvania, has filed an amended complaint and a motion to reopen in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] The Court previously screened and dismissed Plaintiff's complaint in which he alleged that a corrections counselor provided incorrect information regarding his convictions to the mother of his children, because it failed to allege a constitutional claim.[2] In the original complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Defendant Counselor DiGiovanni sent his children's mother forms related to his visitation list at prison that identified his convictions as for involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and rape.[3] Plaintiff alleged that this information is incorrect and has defamed his character.

         In Plaintiff's amended complaint, he alleges that around the end of October 2017, he submitted a visitor add-on form to have his children added to his visitation list, which requires his counselor and unit manager to send a consent form to the guardians of the minors to apprise the guardian of his convictions.[4] Defendants DiGiovanni, a counselor, and Griffin, his unit manager, sent the mother of Plaintiff's children this visitor add-on form, in which they stated that Plaintiff was convicted of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and rape.[5] Plaintiff alleges that he received an email from the mother of his children about this issue on November 2, 2017, and that the information contained in the form is incorrect.[6] Plaintiff asserts that Defendants' actions defamed him and caused the mother of his children to withhold his children from visiting him based on inaccurate information in violation of his due process and equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.[7]

         In addition to the allegations of the amended complaint, Plaintiff has appended as exhibits the visitor form dated October 25, 2017, sent to the mother of his children, as well as administrative grievances and responses. The response to Plaintiff's initial grievance provides further context regarding the situation that was not alleged in the Amended Complaint:

Inmate Evans filed this grievance regarding minor consent forms that were send to his children's mother. He claims that the letters referred to him as having a sex offense against a minor. He expressed that the letters were sent by the counselor which was resulted in problems with the mother, he finds it very unprofessional and wants something done about it.
He spoke to me about this issue on the unit on 11.06.2017, after having accused the counselor of not doing her job and/or not doing it correctly. I explained to Evans that we recently replaced the housing unit clerk who had many years of experience, with a new clerk who is still learning the process. I also apologized for the error and assured him that his counselor was not the one who made the error and that there was no malicious intent. I also informed him that I would contact the clerk to send corrected letters (that was done on 11.06.2017) and that if the mother of his children had any lingering concerns that she could call me and I would explain it to her.
The letters were corrected and send on that day, 11.06.2017. They were signed and returned to SCI Mahanoy on 12.04.2017. No. phone or letter correspondence was received from Ms. Gardner, the mother of the children involved. The children are now on his approved visitor list.
As I met with Evans and informed him that the matter would be corrected and offered to speak to the mother, I find this grievance to be frivolous and therefore denied.[8]

         Plaintiff filed another, similar grievance, to which Plaintiff received the following response:

You state that you are filing this grievance because you feel the clerk was not doing her job and sent the wrong visitation form to your children's mother. You offer no relief.
I would like to apologize as in researching this grievance you are correct, the clerk sent the wrong form to your family, so I am Upholding in Part and Denying in Part in that I disagree, however, that she was not doing her job, in fact she was and just made a mistake. She meant you no harm and she was informed on the correct procedures for sending out these visitation letters.[9]

         Plaintiff's appeal to the facility manager received a similar response, and his appeal to the Department of Corrections was dismissed for failure to provide the required documentation.[10]


         Sections 1915(e)(2) and 1915A require a court to review complaints prior to service in cases in which a plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis and in which a plaintiff is incarcerated.[11] The Court must sua sponte dismiss any claim that is frivolous, is malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. This action is subject to sua sponte screening for dismissal ...

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