Ball v. Beckley, CIVIL NO. 1:11-CV-1829

CourtUnited States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Pennsylvania
Writing for the CourtMartin C. Carlson
PartiesDAWN MARIE BALL, Plaintiff, v. LT. BECKLEY, et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberCIVIL NO. 1:11-CV-1829
Decision Date13 July 2012

LT. BECKLEY, et al., Defendants.

CIVIL NO. 1:11-CV-1829


Date: July 13, 2012

(Chief Judge Kane)

(Magistrate Judge Carlson)


I. Statement of Facts and of the Case

A. Dawn Marie Ball's Litigation History

In many ways, Dawn Ball's current circumstances inspire both sorrow and concern. Dawn Ball is an inmate housed in the Restricted Housing Unit at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) Muncy, who by her own account suffers from a cascading array of severe mental illnesses, and who has candidly acknowledged that she is profoundly disturbed. Ball v. Beard, No. 1:09-CV-845 (Doc. 42, pp.6-7.) Furthermore, Ball is also an inmate who has reported to the court that she engages in multiple episodes of destructive, self-defeating and senseless behavior.

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Much of this institutional misconduct is marked by disturbing, excretory behavior. Indeed, a constant refrain throughout many of Ball's lawsuits is her fascination with her own bodily wastes. For example, recurring themes in Ball's lawsuits include Ball's penchant for smearing feces on herself, her clothes, her property, and her cell, as well as her destruction of her own clothing, and her use of her clothing to plug her toilet and flood her cell with water and human waste. Ball is also, by her own admission, an inmate with a propensity for sudden, explosive rages, as illustrated by the civil complaint which she has filed Ball v. Barr, No.1:11-CV-2240 (M.D.Pa.). In this complaint, Ball describes an episode in which a discussion regarding the aesthetic qualities of a piece of cornbread escalated in a matter of moments into a profanity-laced wrestling match over a food tray.

Ball is a prodigious federal court litigant, bringing numerous lawsuits based upon her perception of the events that take place around her in prison. Indeed, at present Ball currently has more than 25 lawsuits pending before this court.1 Ball is

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also a prodigiously unsuccessful litigant, who has had at least three prior lawsuits dismissed either as frivolous or on the grounds that the lawsuit failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.

The history of repeated, frivolous and meritless litigation in federal court by this plaintiff began in March of 2008, when Ball filed a complaint in the case of Ball v. SCI Muncy, No. 1:08-CV-391 (M.D. Pa.). On December 10, 2008, the district court dismissed this civil action, citing Ball's failure to exhaust her administrative remedies, and stating that Ball:

does not dispute that she failed to exhaust her administrative remedies with regard to the issues raised in the complaint. Plaintiff's failure to oppose the remaining Defendants' motion, which also seeks dismissal for failure to exhaust administrative remedies, renders the motion unopposed. See L.R. 7.6. It is clear that Plaintiff's claims are not properly before this Court and must be dismissed.

(Doc. 36, p.5.)

While, fairly construed, the district court's dismissal decision rested on exhaustion grounds, and did not entail an analysis of the merits of Ball's claims, the dismissal

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order itself went on to state that any appeal of this dismissal would be "deemed frivolous and not in good faith." Ball v. SCI Muncy, No. 1:08-CV-391 (M.D. Pa.) (Doc. 36, p.6.)

Nonetheless, Ball appealed this ruling. (Doc. 37.) On July 22, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the dismissal of this action, noting that:

The District Court granted the Defendants' motions to dismiss, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), on the grounds of failure to exhaust administrative remedies. We agree with the District Court's decision and accordingly affirm the dismissal of Ball's claims.

Ball v. SCI Muncy, No. 1:08-CV-391 (M.D. Pa.)(Doc. 44, p. 2-3). Thus, the court of appeals' ruling, like the district court's decision, was expressly based upon Ball's failure to exhaust her administrative remedies.

On May 5, 2009, Ball filed a second civil action in the case of Ball v. Hartman, No. 1:09-CV-844 (M.D. Pa.). This action was also dismissed by the district court, which on this occasion considered the merits of Ball's claims and explicitly concluded that Ball had failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Ball v. Hartman, No. 1:09-CV-844 (M.D. Pa.) (Docs. 32, 33, and 36.) Therefore, this second dismissal involved a merits analysis of Ball's claims, and a determination that Ball's complaint "fail[ed] to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28

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U.S.C. § 1915(g). Ball appealed this dismissal order, Ball v. Hartman, No. 1:09-CV-844 (M.D. Pa.) (Doc. 34.), but her appeal of this case was summarily denied by the court of appeals, Ball v. Hartman, No. 1:09-CV-844 (M.D. Pa.) (Doc. 48.), and, on October29, 2010, this case was closed by the appellate court with the issuance of its mandate dismissing this appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).2 Ball v. Hartman, No. 1:09-CV-844 (M.D. Pa.) (Doc. 48.).

Ball then filed yet another lawsuit in the case of Ball v. Butts, No. 1:11 -CV-1068, (M.D.Pa.) on June 3, 2011. Ball v. Butts, No. 1:11-CV-1068 (M.D.Pa.)(Doc. 1.) On June 15, 2011, upon a screening review of this complaint, the district court dismissed this action for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Ball v. Butts, No. 1:11-CV-1068 (M.D.Pa.)(Doc. 8). Ball appealed this dismissal. Ball v. Butts, No. 1:11-CV-1068 (M.D.Pa.)(Doc. 10.) On September 21, 2011, the court of appeals entered an opinion and order dismissing Ball's appeal as frivolous pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). That appellate court opinion and order spoke

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unambiguously regarding the frivolous nature of this particular lawsuit filed by Ball, stating in clear and precise terms that:

Because we too have granted Ball leave to proceed IFP, we must screen this appeal to determine whether it is frivolous. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(I). An appeal is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). This appeal lacks any such basis. As the District Court adequately explained, immunity extends even to judicial acts that are "done maliciously," and Ball has alleged nothing suggesting that Judge Butts acted in the "clear absence of all jurisdiction." Gallas v. Supreme Court of Pa., 211 F.3d 760, 769 (3d Cir.2000) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). To the extent that Ball's request for injunctive relief might not have been subject to dismissal under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(iii), it was subject to dismissal under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) because such relief is not available against "a judicial officer for an act ... taken in such officer's judicial capacity" under these circumstances. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Finally, we are satisfied that any amendment of Ball's complaint would be futile. See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 111 (3d Cir.2002). Thus, we will dismiss this appeal.

Ball v. Butts, No. 11-2862, 2011 WL 4375782, 1 (3d Cir. Sept 21, 2011).

In addition to these dismissals, Ball currently has at least eleven other cases3 pending before this court where there have been reports and recommendations issued, or adopted, calling for dismissal of claims.

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B. Ball's Current Lawsuit

It is against this backdrop that Ball instituted the current lawsuit. Ball's pro se complaint, which was first filed on October 5, 2011, (Doc. 1.), and later amended on November 4, 2011, (Doc. 14.), names 11 corrections defendants and 2 medical defendants. (Id.) The amended complaint then sets forth an array of allegations against these defendants. These allegations fall into several categories.

First, several of these allegations relate to searches of Ball's cell which allegedly occurred in August of 2011. (Id.) In her amended complaint, Ball alleges that on August 24, 2011, Lt. Beckley escorted her from the infirmary back to the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU). According to Ball, at Beckley's direction, her cell was searched by Correctional officer Charles and Werner. Ball alleges her property was destroyed during the search, and further complains that she felt sick during this search but was required to stand outside her cell and wait for up to 45 minutes until the search was completed. Ball also alleges on August 25,2011, Major Franz told Sgt. Frey to clean out her cell. Ball further contends that another defendant, Correctional Officer Wolfe, also discarded some of her property at some unidentified date. While Ball does not discuss in detail the post-deprivation remedies which were afforded her relating to this allegedly lost property, she attached to her complaints

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various grievance forms which she completed, forms which show that Ball actively pursued post-deprivation remedies in connection with these property loss claims. (Id.)

Ball then makes general allegations that, at various times Lt. Beckley and Correctional Officers Kile and Baldwin , harassed her, calling her derogatory names. Ball also makes a general allegation that Major Franz did not prevent this harassment, and has failed to...

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