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Stevenson v. Pierce

United States District Court, D. Delaware

April 20, 2017

ANTHONY STEVENSON, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID PIERCE, et al., Defendants.

          Anthony Stevenson, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna, Delaware, Pro Se Plaintiff.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ANDREWS, U.S. District Judge

         Plaintiff Anthony Stevenson, an inmate at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. He appears pro se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (D.I. 5). The Court proceeds to review and screen the Complaint (D.I. 3) and its amendment (D.I. 10) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and § 1915A(a).

         BACKGROUND

         On October 12, 2015, Plaintiff asked his work supervisor for permission to leave so that he could go to the hospital to receive an insulin injection. His supervisor refused, and Plaintiff submitted a grievance. The grievance was denied. Plaintiff appealed. A December 18, 2015 decision on appeal determined to release Plaintiff from work during the scheduled time for administration of the medication. The decision was upheld by Bureau Chief Marc Richman.

         On December 22, 2015, Plaintiff was informed by a correctional officer that Defendant Warden David Pierce had called the building to take Plaintiff's work pass from him. Later, Plaintiff discovered that it was Defendant Major Jeffrey Carrothers who had called the building and given the orders to take Plaintiff's work pass and terminate Plaintiff from his job in the garment shop "because he was unwilling to authorize [Plaintiff's] leaving the shop to receive [his] insulin shot and for not having a G.E.D." (D.I. 3atp.5).

         Plaintiff submitted a grievance on December 27, 2015, complaining of Carrothers' actions. It was returned as unprocessed, advising Plaintiff that he could be hired or fired with no reasons given. Plaintiff submitted two additional grievances and was told the same thing. A third party who inquired on Plaintiffs behalf was told that Plaintiff was terminated from a position in the kitchen after finding contraband from the kitchen in Plaintiffs cell and that the incident complicated reinstating Plaintiff to his position in the garment shop. Plaintiff states that he was found guilty in the contraband matter, appealed, and the finding of guilt was "overturned/reversed with no further actions taken." Plaintiff alleges that he was the victim of willful and intentional disability discrimination on the part of Carrothers, Delaware Correctional Industries, Mark Pariseau, Edward Bowers, and the Delaware Department of Correction.

         SCREENING OF COMPLAINT

         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 a 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. 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 v. Pardus, 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)(1) 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 U.S. at 327-28; Wilson v. Rackmill, 878 F.2d 772, 774 (3dCir. 1989).

         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 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)). 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 Plaintiff leave to amend his complaint unless amendment would be inequitable or futile. See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 114 (3d Cir. 2002).

         Under Rule 12(b)(6), a motion to dismiss may be granted 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. 544, 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.'" Daw's v. Abington Mem'l Hosp., 765 F.3d 236, 241 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). In addition, a plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to show that a claim has substantive plausibility. See Johnson v. City of Shelby, U.S., 135 S.Ct. 346, 347 (2014). A complaint may not dismissed, however, for imperfect statements of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted. See Id. at 346.

         When reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, a court should follow a three-step process: (1) consider the elements necessary to state a claim; (2) identify allegations that are merely conclusions and therefore are not well-pleaded factual allegations; and (3) accept any well-pleaded factual allegations as true and determine whether they plausibly state a claim. See Connelly v. Lane Constr. Corp.,809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 2016); Williams v. BASF Catalysts LLC,765 F.3d 306, 315 (3d Cir. 2014). Deciding whether a claim is plausible will be a "context-specific ...


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