Grubb v. SCI Dallas et al
MEMORANDUM (Order to follow as separate docket entry) (eo)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
SCI DALLAS, PA DEPARTMENT :
Hon. John E. Jones III
March 8, 2018
Daniel Grubb (“Plaintiff”), at all relevant times, an inmate incarcerated at
the State Correctional Institution at Dallas (“SCI-Dallas”), Pennsylvania, filed this
civil rights action on February 14, 2018, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging, the
denial of adequate medical care. (Doc. 1). Named as Defendants are SCI-Dallas
and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.
Plaintiff seeks to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 2). A federal court must
dismiss a civil action filed in forma pauperis if the court determines that the
complaint “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C.
§1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). For the reasons set forth below, the Court concludes that the
complaint is subject to dismissal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim
pursuant to § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is identical to the legal standard used when ruling
on Rule 12(b)(6) motions. Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236, 240 (3d Cir.
1999) (applying FED.R.CIV.P. 12(b)(6) standard to dismissal for failure to state a
claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)). In 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). A district court
ruling on a motion to dismiss may consider the facts alleged on the face of the
complaint, as well as “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).
However, “the 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) (“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”).
Under the pleading regime established by [Bell Atl. Corp. v.]
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) 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.
Milberg 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.
Connelly v. Lane Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 787–88 (3d Cir.2016) (internal
citations, quotations and footnote omitted). Elements are sufficiently alleged when
the facts in the complaint “show” that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 679 (quoting FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2)). At the second step, the Court
identities those allegations that, being merely conclusory, are not entitled to the
presumption of truth. Twombly and Iqbal distinguish between legal conclusions,
which are discounted in the analysis, and allegations of historical fact, which are
assumed to be true even if “unrealistic or nonsensical,” “chimerical,” or
“extravagantly fanciful.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681. 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.” Id.
ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT
Plaintiff alleges that, since his transfer from the State Correctional Institution
at Mahanoy to SCI-Dallas, he has “contracted a skin problem that caused [him]
a[n] outrageous outbreak to [his] entire body.” (Doc. 1, pp. 2, 3). He indicates that
he requested treatment and that he has been subjected to three biopsies. After the
passage of five months, the outbreak has increased in severity and he has not been
given “proper treatment.” (Doc. 1, pp. 2, 3).
He is seeking monetary damages. (Id. at 3).
It is well-settled that neither a state nor its agencies, are considered a
“person” as that term is defined under § 1983 and, therefore, are not subject to a §
1983 suit. Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 25-27 (1991). Similarly, neither a prison
nor a department within a prison is a person subject to suit under § 1983. Fischer
v. Cahill, 474 F.2d 991, 992 (3d Cir. 1973). The Pennsylvania Department of
Corrections and SCI-Dallas are not persons within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. §
1983. See Will v. Michigan Dep’t of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989) (holding
that a state may not be sued in federal court pursuant to § 1983, and is not a
“person” for purposes of that provision). Consequently, Grubb’s complaint will be
LEAVE TO AMEND
“The obligation to liberally construe a pro se litigant’s pleadings is well-
established.” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); see also Higgs v.
Atty. Gen. of the U.S., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing Estelle v. Gamble,
429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). “[I]n civil rights cases district courts must offer
amendment—irrespective of whether it is requested—when dismissing a case for
failure to state a claim unless doing so would be inequitable or futile.” Fletcher–
Harlee Corp. v. Pote Concrete Contractors., Inc., 482 F.3d 247, 251 (3d Cir.
2007); see also Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). Amendment is futile
“if the amendment will not cure the deficiency in the original complaint or if the
amended complaint cannot withstand a renewed motion to dismiss.” Jablonski v.
Pan Am. World Airways, Inc., 863 F.2d 289, 292 (3d Cir.1988); see also Shane v.
Fauver, 213 F.3d 113, 115 (3d Cir. 2000) (stating that “[i]n assessing ‘futility,’ the
District Court applies the same standard of legal sufficiency as applies under Rule
Plaintiff will be afforded the opportunity to amend to cure the defects of his
complaint, to wit, name the proper defendants.
Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff’s complaint (Doc. 1) will be dismissed
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).
An appropriate Order will issue.
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