United States District Court, D. Delaware
Jermaine Greene, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna,
Delaware, Pro Se Plaintiff.
ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Jermaine Greene, an inmate at the James T. Vaughn
Correctional Center, Smyrna, Delaware, filed this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He appears pro se
and has been granted leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. (D.I. 6). The Court proceeds to review and
screen the Complaint (D.I. 1) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
commenced this action by filed a motion for a preliminary
injunction, construed by the Court as a complaint requesting
injunctive relief. (D.I. 1). Named defendants include Major
Brennan, Deputy Warden Parker, Sgt. Bailey, and the State of
Delaware. A supporting memo filed by Plaintiff indicates that
his wishes this matter to proceed as a class action. (D.I.
1-1 at p.1).
alleges that he was held hostage by unknown inmates on
February 1, 2017 during the hostage crisis at VCC that
resulted in the death of a correctional officer. He was
trapped in C-Building for several hours and then released
with a few other hostages. He was taken by Department of
Correction staff to be checked by medical staff and then
taken to a secluded area, placed in a visiting enclosure and
surrounded by "CERT" (i.e., Correctional
Emergency Response Team) members, several staff members, and
alleges that he was beaten on the order of an unnamed
lieutenant for approximately two or three minutes while his
hands were secured firmly behind his back by zip ties. (D.l.
1 at p.2). Plaintiff was kicked in the head, ribs, stomach,
and his shoulders and legs were stomped on. (Id.) He
was left on the floor in severe pain for five to six hours.
In the early morning Plaintiff was taken to VCC's
receiving room. There, he was fingerprinted and interviewed
by DOC internal affairs, a homicide detective, and a federal
the interview, Plaintiff was immediately transferred to
VCC's super maximum security housing unit. Plaintiff
complains that, contrary to DOC policy, he was not furnished
with any form of infraction, notice, and/or hearing regarding
his transfer to SHU. Plaintiff alleges that since his
transfer to SHU, he has been subjected to an extremely
aggressive level of punitive system and restrictions, as
follows: he has been "stripped" of all his
recreation, privileges and hygienic entitlements; he receives
half portions of food and is deprived of commissary food that
has resulted in his loss of 18 to 20 pounds; and his personal
property (including legal materials) was confiscated and has
not been returned. (See D.I. 1-1 at p.2). Plaintiff
complains that other inmates who were held hostage have
received all their property, as well as their recreation and
privileges, and have been placed in a higher privilege level
of security. He alleges that out of 120 inmates, only 13 to
15 were discriminatory chosen and placed in punitive
18, 2017 memo, from the Office of Treatment Services for
maximum housing unit #18, advises Plaintiff that the Ad Seg
& Max Review Committee reviewed his status, effective
February 23, 2017. (D.I. 1 at p.10). He was made a privilege
level 1, and his housing recommendation is 18.
(Id.). Privilege level 1 allows for one phone call
per month, one visit per month, and bi-weekly commissary
visits with a limit of $10 for hygiene/writing items only.
(Id.). Those who are not in punitive segregation are
allowed to spend $35 or $45 at the commissary and this allows
them to buy food, clothing and all types of hygiene products.
Plaintiff alleges that he is being punished because he is
subjected to a progressive disciplinary quality of life
system that is reserved for disciplinary inmates or inmates
who have violated an institutional rule.(D.I. 1-1 at p.1).
Plaintiff acknowledges that he was placed in the QOL system
following the hostage crisis. (Id.) He alleges that
Defendants have neither asserted, nor shown, any security
needs for the unequal privileges or any lack of available
resources that provide a regulatory justification for their
conduct. (Id. at p.2).
alleges that: (1) Parker (at the time the acting VCC warden)
is responsible for policy, rules, and regulations that govern
all segregation; (2) Bailey, the sergeant of the property
room, is responsible for delivering inmates their personal
property; and (3) all Defendants have the responsibility to
treat Plaintiff equally to all other inmates. Plaintiff seeks
injunctive relief for Defendants to return his personal
property and treat him equally to other similarly situated
inmates from C-Building.
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); Erlckson v. Partus, 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." Erlckson
v. Pardus, 551 U.S. at 94 (citations omitted).
action is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis
either in law or in fact." Neltzke 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 U.S. at 327-28; Wilson v.
Rackmill, 878 F.2d 772, 774 (3d Cir. 1989); see,
e.g., 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
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). 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 ...