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Nash v. Akinbayo

United States District Court, D. Delaware

July 26, 2018

ANTHONY A. NASH, Plaintiff,
v.
KOLAWOLE AKINBAYO, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

         I. INTRODUCTION

         The plaintiff, Anthony A. Nash ("Nash"), an inmate at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution ("HRYCI") in Wilmington, Delaware, filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1986 and 18 U.S.C. § 241, alleging violations of his constitutional rights. (D.I. 1.) He appears prose and was granted permission to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Nash submitted a grievance which resulted in an informal resolution on February 12, 2016. Nash considers the informal resolution a contract among himself, the State of Delaware and the HRYCI. Nash alleges that the HRYCI Classification Department agreed that it would not classify Nash into the dormitory setting of the Key Program.[1]

         On October 4, 2016, Nash filed a civil rights action ("2016 action") against the defendant Connections CSP, Inc. ("Connections"), several Connections employees, and three Delaware Department of Correction ("DOC") employees. On December 19, 2017, this court denied a motion to dismiss filed by Connections and its employees in the 2016 action. On February 16, 2018, Nash was classified to minimum security level. On February 23, 2018, the Institutional Based Classification Committee ("IBCC") removed Nash's work status. Nash alleges that on February 23, 2018 the defendants conspired and intentionally breached his contract with the State of Delaware. He alleges they retaliated against him because the action taken against him occurred just a few days after he received discovery in the 2016 action.

         On February 27, 2018, Nash was removed from the jail honor pod and, on March 1, 2018, transferred to a transition pod. On March 6, 2018, Nash received his classification notification that his work status was removed, and he was classified to "Key North." Nash alleges his classification to Key North violated his right to due process, and the defendants exhibited deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs when they placed him in a dorm with the intent to cause serious physical injury.[2]

         Nash alleges that the defendant Warden Kolawole Akinbayo ("Akinbayo") knew of his claims because Nash reached out to the warden by letter, grievances, and an appeal, but Akinbayo completely ignored him. Nash also alleges that Akinbayo has veto power of all classification programs.

         On March 6, 2018, Nash submitted a grievance asking why the informal resolution was not being enforced. Nash alleges that the defendant Cpl. Grose ("Grose") assured him the informal resolution would be enforced. Grose contacted Mental Health about the issue. Nash alleges that Grose had a duty to enforce all prior grievances, but he did not.

         Nash, who was in the prison infirmary, was seen by the defendant Dr. David M. August ("Dr. August") on March 7, 2017. Nash alleges that the visit lasted only two minutes and that Dr. August told Nash that, "because you don't take meds, Mental Health cannot help you." Nash states that he does take not medication for his diagnosed agoraphobia and panic disorder because they make him tired or "zombie-like." Nash alleges that Dr. August conspired with the defendants in the 2016 action in an attempt to hurt him mentally and physically. Nash alleges that all the defendants conspired and retaliated against him for seeking redress from the courts, and they are collectively deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs because they "intentionally breach[ed] their contract [] with the intent to do harm."

         Connections runs or manages the Key Program. Plaintiff alleges that the State of Delaware and/or Connections intentionally used the Key Program as a weapon to deter or harm inmates. Nash was moved to Dormitory One of the Key North Program on March 20, 2018. He alleges that he was threatened with "the hole" and loss of good time if he did not sign the papers "to do the Key Program." He seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         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." 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. § 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 &pro se plaintiff. Phillips v. Country of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 229 (3d Cir. 2008); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007). Because Nash 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).

         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) 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, 61 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 § l9l5(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) (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 grant Nash 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 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.

         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. Connelly v. Lane Const. Corp.,809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 2016) (internal citations and quotations omitted). 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 ...


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