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Carter v. Phelps

United States District Court, D. Delaware

March 26, 2018

JERMAINE LAYTON CARTER, Plaintiff,
v.
PERRY PHELPS, et al, Defendants.

          Jermaine Layton Carter, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna, Delaware, Pro Se Plaintiff.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          STARK, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Jermaine Layton Carter ("Plaintiff"), an inmate at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] (D.I. 1) He appears pro se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (D.I. 11) Plaintiff has filed several motions for leave to amend (D.I. 4, 5, 8, 9), all of which the Court addresses. In addition, Plaintiff filed a motion for default judgment and a motion to answer. (D.I. 13, 14) The Court proceeds to review and screen the matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b) and § 1915A(a).

         II. BACKGROUND

         The Court construes the complaint (D.I. 1) and the motion for leave to amend (D.I. 8), together, as the operative pleading. Plaintiff alleges that on July 31, August 5, August 7, and August 15, 2015, his constitutional rights were violated when he was sent to isolation for 90 days after he was found guilty of disciplinary infractions. Plaintiff pled "not guilty." He alleges that he was sent to the hole for nothing.

         Plaintiff alleges that when he was transferred to isolation his hands were cuffed too tight for approximately two hours, causing him pain and then numbness. Plaintiff notified a nurse of the problem but received no treatment. He also submitted a sick call request.

         Plaintiff complains that while housed in isolation he lost all privileges, and was not allowed any telephone calls, visits, or commissary. In addition, he was not allowed to watch television, listen to the radio, or read books.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Commissioner Perry Phelps ("Phelps") and Bureau Chief Steve Wesley ("Wesley") are supposed to ensure that the disciplinary procedure is safe. Plaintiff sues Phelps and Wesley in their official capacities. Plaintiff alleges that Bureau Chief of the Medical Department Marc Richman ("Richman") is supposed to ensure the medical grievance process.

         Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and compensatory damages.

         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) 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." hall v. Eamiglio, 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 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. See 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, 551 U.S. at 94 (citations omitted).

         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)® 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; see also Wilson v. Rackmill, 878 F.2d 772, 774 (3d Cir. 1989); Deutsch v. United Stales, 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 back).

         The 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 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 and 1915A, the Court must ...


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