United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
JOHN E. JONES III JUDGE
before the court is a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983, filed by Courtney Johnson
("Johnson" or "Plaintiff), a state inmate
currently housed at the State Correctional Institution at
Mahanoy ("SCI-Mahanoy"), Frackville, Pennsylvania.
Johnson seeks to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc.
reasons that follow, the motion to proceed in forma
pauperis will be granted for the sole purpose of the
filing of the action and the complaint will be dismissed
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
federal court may properly dismiss an action sua
sponte under the screening provisions of 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and § 1915A(b) if "the action
is frivolous or 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." Ball v.
Famiglio, 726 F.3d 448, 452 (3d Cir. 2013).
dismissing claims under §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A,
district courts apply the standard governing motions to
dismiss brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. See, e.g., Smithson v.
Koons, Civ. No. 15-01757, 2017 WL 3016165, at *3 (M.D.
Pa. June 26, 2017) (stating "[t]he legal standard for
dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim under
§ 1915A(b)(1), § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), or §
1997e(c)(1) is the same as that for dismissing a complaint
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure.”); Mitchell v. Dodrill, 696
F.Supp.2d 454, 471 (M.D. Pa. 2010) (explaining that when
dismissing a complaint pursuant to § 1915A, "a
court employs the motion to dismiss standard set forth under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)");
Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236, 240 (3d Cir.
1999) (applying FED.R.C1V.P. 12(b)(6) standard to dismissal
for failure to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)).
rendering a decision on a motion to dismiss, a court should
not inquire "whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail
but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to
support the claims." Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416
U.S. 232, 236 (1974); Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 66
(3d Cir. 1996). The court must accept as true the factual
allegations in the complaint and draw all reasonable
inferences from them in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. See Phillips v. Cty of Allegheny, 515
F.3d 224, 229 (3d Cir. 2008). In addition to considering the
facts alleged on the face of the complaint, the court may
consider "documents incorporated into the complaint by
reference, and matters of which a court may take judicial
notice." Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights,
Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007).
"[t]he tenet that a court must accept as true all of the
allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal
conclusions." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (stating "[t]hreadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice."). "Under the pleading
regime established by Twombly and Iqbal, a
court reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint must take
three steps. First, it must 'tak[e] note of the elements
[the] plaintiff must plead to state a claim.'
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675, 129 S.Ct. 1937. Second, it
should identify allegations that, 'because they are no
more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of
truth.' Id. at 679, 129 S.Ct. 1937. See also
Burtch v. Mil berg Factors, Inc., 662 F.3d 212, 224 (3d
Cir.2011) ("Mere restatements of the elements of a claim
are not entitled to the assumption of truth." (citation
and editorial marks omitted)). Finally, '[w]hen there are
well- pleaded factual allegations, [the] court should assume
their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give
rise to an entitlement to relief.' Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 679, 129 S.Ct. 1937." Connelly v. Lane
Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 2016) (footnote
omitted). Deciding whether a claim is plausible is a
"context-specific task that requires the reviewing court
to draw on its judicial experience and common sense."
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681.
Johnson proceeds pro se, his pleading is liberally
construed and his complaint, "however inartfully
pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citations omitted).
seeks "to be free from being punished twice for same
offense for which he was on parole." (Doc. 1, p. 3). He
alleges that "adding more time to his judge-imposed
sentenced [sic] is an increasing of his punishment, without
the appropriate fact-finder having authorized his maximum
being increased. This violates his rights to due
process." (Id. at 4). Specifically, he
"asserts that increasing his sentence original maximum
date from 12/19/2019 to 09/20/2025 is adding of punishment to
the punishment that he originally received from his
sentencing judge." (Id.).
1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code offers private
citizens a cause of action for violations of federal law by
state officials. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The
statute provides, in pertinent part, as follows:
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or
the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be
subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person
within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any
rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution
and laws, shall be liable to the ...