United States District Court, D. Delaware
Simmers, Howard R. Young Correctional Institution,
Wilmington, Delaware. Pro Se Plaintiff.
ANDREWS, UJS. District Judge:
James Simmers, an inmate at the Howard R. Young Correctional
Institution in Wilmington, Delaware, filed this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his
constitutional rights. (D.I. 1, 6). He appears pro se
and has been granted leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. (D.I. 7). The Court screens and reviews the
complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and §
October 2014, a Delaware Superior Court jury convicted
Plaintiff of two counts of rape in the fourth degree and one
count of indecent exposure in the second degree. Simmers
v. State, 171 A.3d 1115 (Del. 2017) (table). The
Superior Court sentenced Plaintiff to a total period of
twenty years and thirty days at Level V incarceration, to be
suspended after serving six years and thirty days in prison
for decreasing levels of supervision. Id. On
September 25, 2017, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the
trial court's denial of Plaintiffs first motion for
post-conviction relief. Id. Plaintiff commenced this
action in December 2017.
alleges that he was "going to education class for over
60 weeks for the first part" of the class. (D.I. 1).
During this time Plaintiff worked at the commissary.
Plaintiff asked his counselor to inquire why he was in the
class when the court knew that his case was still on appeal.
The counselor told Plaintiff not to worry. Part II of the
class required Plaintiff to admit his guilt, but he refused.
Plaintiff told his counselor that he did not want a
"write-up." Plaintiff alleges his placement in the
class was illegal because his case was on appeal.
class was taught by Defendant Mrs. Harrison. When Plaintiff
refused to say he was guilty, Mrs. Harrison stated that
Plaintiff refused to participate in the transition group.
While not clear, it appears Plaintiff received a disciplinary
ticket on June 27, 2017, because of this. Plaintiff alleges
that Defendant Matthew Hoover took action. Plaintiff saw the
warden and wrote to his counselor and Defendant Mrs. Fields
asking if the action was legal since his criminal case was
still on appeal. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Captain
Dych had his disciplinary ticket for this matter that
occurred over five months ago. Also, it seems that Plaintiff
was transferred to a different housing unit and housed in a
was called back to the class on July 6, 2017. On July 12,
2017, Plaintiff submitted a grievance complaining that he
should not be placed in the class because his case is on
appeal. He asked that the disciplinary ticket be dropped and
for a transfer to a different housing unit until the appeal
was decided. The grievance was returned advising Plaintiff
that classification is non-grievable. The Complaint does not
contain a prayer for 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. 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." 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.3d 103, 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. at 346.
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)). ...