United States District Court, D. Delaware
plaintiff, Thomas Michael Bradford ("Bradford"),
appears pro se and was granted permission to proceed
in forma pauperis. (D.I. 4.) Bradford filed this
lawsuit alleging violations of his civil rights pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983 and raising supplemental state
claims. (D.I. 2.) The court proceeds to review and
screen the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
alleges that on July 28, 2015, he was transported to the
Bebee Medical Center for treatment and evaluation following
an assault. At some point in time, the defendants Delaware
State Police troopers Wayne L. Ingram ("Ingram"),
Cheri Magda ("Magda"), and Carolee Lenoir
("Lenoir") arrived and questioned Bradford about
the assault. When Bradford was told that he was being taken
to another observation room he stated that he was leaving,
the State troopers forced him into a wheelchair against his
will. Bradford unknowingly kicked a trooper. Later, he
awakened to discover that he was lying on the floor in a cell
at the Sussex Correctional Institution ("SCI") in
Georgetown, Delaware. He had extreme pain in his arm.
was released around noon with instructions to seek treatment
for a dislocated shoulder. Bradford immediately sought
treatment for his arm at the Beebe Medical Center. Bradford
alleges he has nerve damage due to delayed treatment for the
dislocated shoulder and has a paralyzed right arm. He alleges
that Ingram, Magda, and Lenoir used excessive and unnecessary
force to subdue him. In addition, he alleges that while at
SCI he was not treated for his injuries and was held in a hot
cell until he complained of his extreme pain. Bradford seeks
compensatory and punitive damages.
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) 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). 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 Bradford 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
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), 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).
legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to
state a claim pursuant to § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) 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, the court must grant Bradford 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); BellAtl 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."
falls under the umbrella of the Delaware Department of
Correction, an agency of the State of Delaware. The Eleventh
Amendment protects states and their agencies and departments
from suit in federal court regardless of the kind of relief
sought. Pennhurst State School & Hosp. v.
Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984). "Absent a
state's consent, the Eleventh Amendment bars a civil
rights suit in federal court that names the state as a
defendant." Laskaris v. Thornburgh, 661 F.2d
23, 25 (3d Cir. 1981) (citing Alabama v. Pugh, 438
U.S. 781 (1978)). Delaware has not waived its immunity from
suit in federal court; although Congress can abrogate a
state's sovereign immunity, it did not do so through the
enactment of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Brooks-McCollum
v. Delaware, 213 Fed.Appx. 92, 94 (3d Cir. 2007)
(unpublished). In addition, dismissal is proper because the
SCI is not a person for purposes of § 1983. See Will
v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58,
71(1989); Calhoun v. Young, 288 Fed.Appx. 47 (3d
Cir. 2008) (unpublished).
the court will dismiss the SCI pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(iii) as it is immune from suit. The complaint
alleges what appear to be non-frivolous and ...