United States District Court, D. Delaware
Walsh, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna, Delaware.
Pro Se Plaintiff.
ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Howard Walsh, an inmate at the James T. Vaughn Correctional
Center in Smyrna, Delaware, filed this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. (D.I. 2). Plaintiff appears pro
se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. (D.I. 8). The Court proceeds to review and
screen the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)
filed this action on July 26, 2017. He alleges that on
October 6, 2014 (D.I. 2 at 3, 7), Defendant Christopher Popp,
a Delaware State Police officer, responded to a 911 call to
Miller's Gun Store. Popp arrived at the store to find
that Plaintiff had been placed into custody by Corporal
Fischetti. Plaintiff alleges that he was interrogated by Popp
regarding his ownership of firearms. Plaintiff alleges the
interrogation violated his constitutional right against
alleges that following the illegal interrogation, an illegal
search (without a warrant) took place at his apartment and
two black powder guns were found. Plaintiff alleges that on
the day in question Plaintiff was asked by Popp, twice, to
consent to a search of his apartment. On both occasions
Plaintiff said, "no." (D.I. 2 at 5). Plaintiff
alleges that Popp next threatened to arrest Plaintiff and his
wife. Plaintiff ultimately consented to the search after his
wife pleaded with him to consent so that she would not be
arrested. Plaintiff alleges that his consent was given while
he was under duress and due to threats made by Popp.
Plaintiff alleges that Popp's acts violated his
constitutional rights. He seeks compensatory and punitive
damages as well as injunctive relief.
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).
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.
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 U.S. 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) 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 amend his complaint
unless amendment would be inequitable or futile. See
Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d103, 114 (3d
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.
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, 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). 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
purposes of the statute of limitations, § 1983 claims
are characterized as personal injury actions. Wilson v.
Garcia,471 U.S. 261, 275 (1985). In Delaware, §
1983 claims are subject to a two-year limitations period. See
10 Del. C.§ 8119; Johnson v. Cullen, 925
F.Supp. 244, 248 (D. Del. 1996). Section 1983 claims accrue
"when the plaintiff knew or should have known of the
injury upon ...