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Smith v. State

United States District Court, D. Delaware

February 21, 2017

EVERETT E. SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Defendant.

          Everett E. Smith, Howard R. Young Correctional Institution, Wilmington, Delaware, Pro Se Plaintiff.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          STARK, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Everett E. Smith ("Plaintiff'), an inmate at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington, Delaware, filed this action as a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to enforce the terms of a settlement agreement entered into between the United States of America. ("U.S.A.") and the State of Delaware ("State") in Civ. No. 11-591-LPS.[1](D.I. 3) Plaintiffs supporting memorandum of law states that this is a civil rights action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[2] (D.I. 4) Hence, it seems that Plaintiff has filed a combined complaint and motion for injunctive relief. Plaintiff filed a renewed motion for injunctive relief on September 6, 2016. (D.I. 11) He appears pro se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (D.I. 7) The Court proceeds to review and screen the matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(a).

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff states that "this is a civil rights action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He alleges that he is being denied his rights under 11 Del. C. §§ 408[3] and 6525[4] and as a class member of a settlement agreement entered into between the U.S.A. and the State on July 15, 2011. The agreement was intended to ensure the State's compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794, and their implementing regulations, which require, among other provisions, that, to the extent the State offers services to individuals with disabilities, such services shall be provided in the most integrated setting appropriate to meet their needs. (See Civ. No. 11-591-LPS at D.I. 5) Plaintiff alleges that he falls under the target classification set forth in Section II.B. of the settlement agreement, specifically:

2.b. People who have been discharged from DPC within the last two years and who meet any of the criteria below;
2.c. People who are, or have been, admitted to private institutions for mental disease in the last two years; and
2.e. People with a serious and persistent mental illness who have been arrested, incarcerated, or had other encounters with the criminal justice system in the last year due to conduct related to their serious mental illness.

(See D.I. 3 at 2; Civ. No. 11-591-LPS at D.I. 5 at 3)

         Plaintiff alleges that he has a lengthy history of mental health issues.[5] Plaintiff explains that he was arrested on November 27, 2012, for robbery second degree, and requested mental health court as an alternative disposition, pursuant to the settlement agreement, but Ms request was denied. (D.I. 3 at 2) Plaintiff alleges that the State violated his constitutional rights by equating 11 Del. C. § 401[6] with being aware of his predicament and appreciation of his charges. He further alleges that he was denied his right to a competency hearing pursuant to 11 Del. C. §§ 401-408.[7] (See D.I. 4) Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief.

         III. LEGAL STANDARDS

         A 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); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) (in forma pauperis actions); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A (actions in which prisoner seeks redress from governmental defendant); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e (prisoner actions brought with respect to prison conditions). The Court must accept all factual allegations in a complaint as true and take them in the light most favorable to a pro se plaintiff. See Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 229- (3d Cir. 2008); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007). Because Plaintiff 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, 551 U.S. at 94 (citations omitted).

         An action is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)® and § 1915A(b)(1), a court may dismiss a complaint as frivolous if it is "based on an indisputably meritless legal theory" or a "clearly baseless" or "fantastic or delusional" factual scenario. Neitzke, 490 at 327-28; see also Wilson v. Rackmill, 878 F.2d 772, 774 (3d Cir. 1989); Deutsch v. United States, 67 F.3d 1080, 1091-92 (3d Cir. 1995) (holding frivolous a suit alleging that prison officials took an inmate's pen and refused to give it back).

         The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and § 1915A(b)(1) is identical to the legal standard used when deciding Rule 12(b)(6) motions. See 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)). However, before dismissing a complaint or claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to the screening provisions of 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A, the Court must grant a plaintiff leave to amend his complaint unless amendment would be inequitable or futile. See Grayson v. Mayview State Hasp.,293 F.3d 103, 114 (3d Or. 2002), A complaint may be dismissed only if, accepting the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, a court concludes that those allegations "could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,550 U.S. 5443 558 (2007). Though "detailed factual allegations" are not required, a complaint must do more than simply provide "labels and conclusions"-or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Davis v. Abington Mem'lHasp.,765 F.3d 236, 241 (3d Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted). In addition, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. See Williams v. BASF Catalysts LLC, 765 F.3d 306, 315 (3d Cir. 2014) (citing Ashcrof ...


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