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Wilson v. Sinners

United States District Court, D. Delaware

March 19, 2018

TONY A. WILSON, Plaintiff,
v.
GREGORY P. SINNERS, et al, Defendants.

          Tony A. Wilson, Milford, Delaware, Pro Se Plaintiff.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          STARK, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Tony A. Wilson ("Plaintiff'), who proceeds/>/» se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, commenced this action on October 24, 2016. (D.I. 1) On December 14, 2016, the Court dismissed Plaintiffs Amended Complaint and he was given leave to amend. (D.I. 34, 35) Plaintiff filed a Third Amended Complaint on June 6, 2017, the Court then dismissed Counts II and III (on November 13, 2017), and Plaintiff was given leave to amend to cure the pleading deficiencies in Counts II and III. (D.I. 43, 44) Plaintiff filed a Fourth Amended Complaint on November 20, 2017. (D.I. 45) The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The Court proceeds to review and screen the Fourth Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, who is black and an Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") employee, alleges employment discrimination and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Fourth Amended Complaint consists of 626 paragraphs, names 17 Defendants, and contains three Counts.[1] Named defendants include the IRS, Department of Treasury employees, and IRS employees. Throughout "Section IV Common Allegations, " Plaintiff alleges that the adverse employment actions taken against him are either based upon his race or are retaliatory actions by Defendants. (D.I. 45 at ¶¶ 55-184) Many of the paragraphs in the "Common Allegations" section in the Fourth Amended Complaint are identical to paragraphs in the Third Amended Complaint. The Court will not distill the allegations in the Fourth Amended Complaint given their similarity to those set forth in the Third Amended Complaint.[2]

         The Fourth Amended Complaint seeks to raise claims under Tide VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Tide VII"), as codified, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-17; Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act ("Rehab Act"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 701-796; the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2671; and the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. § 2615(a)(1). (D.I. 45 at ¶¶ 4-7) Count One is brought against the IRS Treasury Department and alleges employment discrimination and retaliation under Tide VII, FMLA, and the Rehab Act.[3] (Id. at ¶¶ 185-446) Counts Two and Three allege intentional infliction of emotional distress. (Id. at ¶¶ 447-592)

         Plaintiff alleges that as a result of Defendants' actions, his job performance has dropped; he has been subjected to race discrimination and harassment, a hostile work environment, and retaliation; he has missed educational job opportunities; and his future earning capacities have been damaged. (Id. at ¶¶ 160-84) Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief. Plaintiff received a right to sue letter from the EEOC on or about March 24, 2016. (D.I. 36) He commenced this action on October 24, 2016.[4]

         III. LEGAL STANDARDS

         A 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.[5] See Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 229 (3d Cir. 2008); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007).

         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)(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; see also Wilson p. Rackmill, 878 F.2d 772, 774 (3d Cir. 1989).

         The 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 deciding Rule 12(b)(6) motions. See 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 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 a 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).

         A complaint may be dismissed 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." Davis v. Abington Mem'l Hosp., 765 F.3d 236, 241 (3d Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted). In addition, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. See Williams v. BASF Catalysts LLC, 765 F.3d 306, 315 (3d Cir. 2014) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) and Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Finally, 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 be dismissed for imperfect statements of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted. See Id. at 346.

         Under 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. See 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. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (citing ...


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