United States District Court, D. Delaware
plaintiff, Adam Wenzke ("Wenzke"), an inmate at the
James T. Vaughn Correctional Center ("VCC") in
Smyrna, Delaware, filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 alleging violations of his constitutional rights.
(D.I. 3, 11.) He appears pro se and was granted
permission to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915. He has also filed a request for
counsel. (D.I. 8.)
complaint alleges violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth
Amendments as well as breach of contract. Wenzke alleges that
all defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious
medical needs and he was denied his right to equal protection
when he was refused medical care, prison employment, and
educational and computer classes.
alleges that thirteen years ago he was diagnosed with
bi-polar disorder, depression, and anxiety. Over the years he
has tried "just about every mental health
medication" so he knows first-hand what works for him
and what does not work for him. (D.I. 3 at ¶ 2.) On
March 29, 2016, Wenzke was transferred from Howard R. Young
Correctional Institution to VCC. When Wenzke arrived at VCC,
he spoke to mental health and was told he would be seen by a
mental health physician because his medication was causing
main complaint is that each defendant mental health care
provider will not provide him the type of medication he
requests. Instead he is prescribed medication the mental
health care providers believe is appropriate for Wenzke. The
defendants include Dr. Tanya Wilson ("Dr. Wilson"),
Dr. August ("Dr. August"), Dr. Padrell ("Dr.
Padrell"), Dr. Susan ("Dr. Susan") and Dr.
Moses ("Dr. Moses"). Wenzke alleges that the
medication prescribed him cause side-effects to a greater
extent than the medication he used to take. At one point,
Wenzke stopped taking his medication due to the side-effects.
He later resumed taking mental health medication. In many
instances, Wenzke submitted grievances complaining that he
was not provided with appropriate mental health treatment
when he was not provided with medications that had worked for
him in the past. Wenzke alleges that the defendant Judith
Caprio ("Caprio") denied one of his grievances.
complaint further alleges that the defendant mental health
director Paola Munoz ("Munoz") failed to respond
his letters complaining of his mental health treatment and
asking for help, although Munoz responded to Wenzke's
request for an affidavit of merit. The complaint also alleges
that Wenzke wrote to the defendant Warden Metzger
("Metzger") on at least two occasions explaining
his situation, complaining that he was not receiving
treatment, and asking for help.
complaint alleges that the defendant Connections
("Connections"), the contract health care provider
for VCC, failed to train and supervise Munoz, its mental
health directors, and its mental health physicians, that it
has a policy of refusing to prescribe certain medication such
as Wellbutrin, and has a custom, practice or policy of
failing to provide a reasonable diagnosis and/or treatment
for mental health problems.
alleges that he was refused employment in the prison kitchen
after two interviews and undergoing physicals. Following the
second physical, Wenzke was told he probably would not be
hired due to a medical condition and because he was on the
mental health roster. Since then he has submitted numerous
job applications, but has received no replies to his
applications. He also alleges that his requests for education
have been refused. Finally, Wenzke alleges breach of contract
because the defendants refuse to let him see a list of
alternative medications and their side effects and refuse to
discuss alternative treatment options.
defendants are sued in their individual and official
capacities. Wenzke seeks compensatory and punitive damages,
declaratory relief, and injunctive relief in the form of
proper mental health treatment.
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) and § l9l5A(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);
42 U.S.C. § l997e (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. Phillips
v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 229 (3d Cir.
2008); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007).
Because Wenzke 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 (citations omitted).
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. §
l9l5(e)(2)(B)(i) and § l9l5A(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; Wilson v.
Rackmill, 878 F.2d 772, 774 (3d Cir. 1989); see,
e.g., Deutsch v. United States, 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
legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to
state a claim pursuant to § l9l5(e)(2)(B)(ii) and §
l9l5A(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) (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 and 1915A, the
court must ...