United States District Court, D. Delaware
AARON L. HENRY, Plaintiff,
WARDEN DAVID PIERCE, et al., Defendants.
plaintiff, Aaron L. Henry ("Henry"), an inmate at
the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center ("VCC"),
Smyrna, Delaware, filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. (D.I. 1, 9, 10.) Henry appears pro
se and was granted permission to proceed in
forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. (D.I.
4.) The court proceeds to review and screen the complaint
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and §
has many medical and mental health conditions. He alleges
that, since December 2015, his condition worsened, he has
been denied medical and mental health care, and his
conditions continue to worsen. He also alleges that he was
housed in isolation despite his mental health condition and
while housed in isolation he receives no care or treatment. A
supplement to this complaint alleges that on May 4, 2017,
Henry had a PTSD breakdown and it was 72 hours before he was
seen by the defendant Dr. Paola Munoz ("Dr.
Munoz"), and then he remained in isolation for twelve
days without mental health treatment. Henry also complains of
the cell conditions during the time he was housed in
isolation. Henry seeks prompt medical and mental health care,
a transfer to the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution
where he received proper medical care, and compensatory
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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
Henry 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).
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)(i) 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; Wilson v.
Rackmill, 878 F.2d 772, 774 (3d Cir. 1989); see,
e.g., Deutsch v. United States, 61 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
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 Henry 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).
well-pleaded complaint must contain more than mere labels and
conclusions. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662
(2009); Bell Atl Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544
(2007). 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.
the pleading regime established by Twombly and
Iqbal, a court reviewing the sufficiency of a
complaint must take three steps: (1) take note of the
elements the plaintiff must plead to state a claim; (2)
identify allegations that, because they are no more than
conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth; and
(3) when 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.
Connelly v. Lane Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d
Cir. 2016) (internal citations and quotations 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)). Deciding whether a claim is plausible will be a
"context-specific task that requires the reviewing court
to draw on its judicial experience and common sense."
complains of the failure to provide him proper medical and
mental health treatment as well as the conditions under which
he was housed while in isolation. As will be discussed, the
complaint fails to state claims upon which relief may be
order to set forth a cognizable claim, an inmate must allege
a serious medical need and acts or omissions by prison
officials that indicate deliberate indifference to that need.
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976);
Rouse v. Plantier, 182 F.3d 192, 197 (3d Cir. 1999).
A condition of confinement violates the Eighth Amendment only
if it is so reprehensible as to be deemed inhumane under
contemporary standards or such that it deprives an inmate of
minimal civilized measure of the necessities of life. See
Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 8 (1992); Wilson v.
Setter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991). When an Eighth
Amendment claim is brought against a prison official it must
meet two requirements: (1) the deprivation alleged must be,
objectively, sufficiently serious; and (2) the prison
official must have been deliberately indifferent to the
inmate's health or safety. Farmer v. Brennan,
511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). A prison official may manifest
deliberate indifference by "intentionally denying or
delaying access to medical care." Estelle, 429
U.S. at 104-05.
complaint names and describes several defendants, but with
the exception of Dr. Munoz, there are no statements directed
towards any defendant. The statement referring to Dr. Munoz
indicates that she provided mental health treatment to Henry
and, therefore, does not rise to the level of a
addition, there are very few dates mentioned in the complaint
and thus, any defendant would have great difficulty
responding to the allegations. A civil rights complaint is
adequately pled where it states the conduct, time, place, and
persons responsible. See Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d
347, 353 (3d Cir. 2005) (citing Boykins v. Ambridge Area