FULTON v. SCI CHESTER et al
MEMORANDUM. AN APPROPRIATE ORDER WILL FOLLOW.. SIGNED BY HONORABLE TIMOTHY J. SAVAGE ON 6/10/16. 6/10/16 ENTERED AND COPIES MAILED TO PRO SE PLFF., 1 COPY TO LEGAL BIN.(pr, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
June 10, 2016
Plaintiff Omar Fulton, a prisoner incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at
Fayette, filed this civil action against the State Correctional Institution at Chester and
Lieutenant John Williams. He asserts claims based on the loss or destruction of his
personal property. Plaintiff also seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis.
We shall grant plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and we shall dismiss the
complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).
According to his complaint, Omar Fulton was housed in the Restricted Housing Unit
(RHU) at SCI-Chester on June 24, 2014. The next day, he was transported to Montgomery
County for a court proceeding. Expecting to return, he left his personal property – “legal
property,” pictures of his son and daughter, and other “personal property”–in the RHU at
SCI-Chester. (Compl. ¶ 9.) The Montgomery County court ordered him incarcerated at
the Montgomery County facility until his criminal case there was resolved.
Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Montgomery County jail for approximately a year
and a half. When he returned to SCI-Chester, he asked Lieutenant Williams, who is in
charge of the RHU at SCI-Chester, for his property. After looking for the property,
Lieutenant Williams informed plaintiff that “she threw alway [sic] [the] property due to the
fact that no one claim [sic] the property,” even though plaintiff’s name was on the property
box. (Compl. ¶ 13.) Plaintiff claims to have suffered emotional distress due to the loss of
Based on these allegations, Fulton asserts due process claims pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983, and state law claims.
He alleges that Williams negligently and/or
“maliciously and sadistically” disposed of his property in violation of the Due Process
Clause. (Compl. ¶ 16.) He also brings state tort claims. He seeks a declaration that his
rights were violated, and $55,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
It appears that he is incapable of paying the fees to commence this civil action.
Therefore, having satisfied the requirements set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915, and Fulton's
motion to proceed in forma pauperis is granted.
Because Fulton is proceeding as a pro se prisoner, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)
requires that the complaint be dismissed if it fails to state a claim.
To survive dismissal, the complaint must contain "sufficient factual matter, accepted
as true, to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quotations omitted). As Fulton is proceeding pro se, we construe his
allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011). Furthermore,
"[i]f the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must
dismiss the action." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3).
"To 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). "[T]he Due Process Clause is simply not implicated by a negligent
act of an official causing unintended loss of or injury to life, liberty, or property." Daniels
v. Wiliams, 474 U.S. 327, 328 (1986). Therefore, Fulton cannot sustain a constitutional
claim based on allegations that Williams negligently disposed of his property.
To the extent Williams intentionally deprived Fulton of his property, there is no basis
for a due process claim because Pennsylvania law provides plaintiff with an adequate state
See Shakur v. Coelho, 421 F. App'x 132, 135 (3d Cir. 2011) (per curiam)
(explaining that the Pennsylvania Tort Claims Act provides an adequate remedy for a willful
deprivation of property); Tapp v. Proto, 404 F. App'x 563, 567 (3d Cir. 2010) (per curiam)
("[D]eprivation of inmate property by prison officials does not state a cognizable due
process claim if the prisoner has an adequate post-deprivation state remedy.").
Accordingly, we shall dismiss Fulton’s constitutional claims.1
It is unfortunate that Fulton’s personal property was lost or misplaced. However, he
has no federal cause of action. His only recourse is to pursue state law claims.
The only independent basis for jurisdiction over Fulton’s state law claims is 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a), which grants a district court subject matter jurisdiction over a case in
In any event, SCI-Chester is entitled to Eleventh Am endm ent im m unity from any § 1983 claim s and
is not a “person” for purposes of that provision. See W ill v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 65-66
(1989) (a state m ay not be sued in federal court pursuant to § 1983 and is not a “person” for purposes of that
provision); Lavia v. Pa. Dep't of Corr., 224 F.3d 190, 195 (3d Cir. 2000) (Pennsylvania Departm ent of
Corrections “shares in the Com m onwealth's Eleventh Am endm ent im m unity”).
which "the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000, exclusive of interest
and costs, and is between . . . citizens of different States."2 The complaint does not allege
the citizenship of the parties and an amount in controversy in excess of the jurisdictional
threshold. Thus, his state law claims must be dismissed for lack of subject matter
We shall dismiss Fulton’s federal claims with prejudice and his state law claims
without prejudice to his refiling those claims in state court. He will not be given leave to
amend his complaint because amendment would be futile.
Having dism issed plaintiff’s federal claim s, the Court will not exercise supplem ental jurisdiction over
his state law claim s.
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