United States District Court, D. Delaware
Hardwick, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna,
Delaware. Pro Se Plaintiff.
Spring Monzo and Roopa Sabesan, White & Williams,
Wilmington, Delaware, Counsel for Defendant.
ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
James Hardwick, an inmate at the James T. Vaughn Correctional
Center in Smyrna, Delaware, filed a Complaint pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983, followed by an Amended
Complaint. (D.I. 2, 8). Plaintiff appears pro
se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. (D.I. 6). Before the Court is Defendant
Connections Community Support Programs, Inc.'s motion to
dismiss (D.I. 20) and Plaintiff's motion for discovery.
(D.I. 28). Briefing is complete on the motion to dismiss.
(D.I. 20, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27).
Court screened the Complaint and Amended Complaint on October
10, 2017 and identified cognizable and non-frivolous claims.
(See D.I. 9, 10). Plaintiff named several
defendants, all of whom have been dismissed except for
Connections. (D.I. 9). Connections moves to dismiss pursuant
to Rule 12(b)(6) on the grounds that the claims against it
are insufficient to plausibly show Connections has a policy
or practice that subjects it to constitutional liability.
reviewing a motion filed under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the
court must accept all factual allegations in a complaint as
true and take them in the light most favorable to plaintiff.
See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (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." Id.
A court may consider the pleadings, public record, orders,
exhibits attached to the complaint, and documents
incorporated into the complaint by reference. Tellabs,
Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308,
322 (2007). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion maybe granted only if,
accepting the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as
true and viewing them in the light most favorable to the
complainant, 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
'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) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). I am
"not required to credit bald assertions or legal
conclusions improperly alleged in the complaint." In
re Rockefeller Ctr. Props., Inc. Sec. Litig., 311 F.3d
198, 216 (3d Cir. 2002). A complaint may not be dismissed,
however, "for imperfect statement of the legal theory
supporting the claim asserted." Johnson v. City of
Shelby, 135 S.Ct. 346, 346 (2014).
complainant must plead facts sufficient to show that a claim
has "substantive plausibility." Id. at
347. That plausibility must be found on the face of the
complaint. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009). "A claim has facial plausibility when the
[complainant] pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged." Id. Deciding
whether a claim is plausible will be a "context-specific
task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its
judicial experience and common sense." Id. at
plaintiff relies upon a theory of respondeat superior to hold
a corporation liable, he must allege a policy or custom that
demonstrates "deliberate indifference." Sample
v. Diecks, 885 F.2d 1099, 1110 (3d Cir. 1989);
Miller v. Correctional Med. Sys., Inc., 802 F.Supp.
1126, 1132 (D. Del. 1992). To establish that Defendant is
directly liable for the alleged constitutional violations,
Plaintiff "must provide evidence that there was a
relevant [Connections] policy or custom, and that the policy
caused the constitutional violation [plaintiff]
allege[s]." Natale v. Camden Cty. Correctional
Facility, 318 F.3d 575, 584 (3d Cir. 2003). Respondeat
superior or vicarious liability cannot be a basis for
corporate liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as a
corporation under contract with the state cannot be held
liable for the acts of its employees and agents under those
theories. Id. at 583. Assuming the acts of
Defendant's employee have violated a person's
constitutional rights, those acts may be deemed the result of
a policy or custom of the entity for whom the employee works,
thereby rendering the entity liable under § 1983, where
"the inadequacy of existing practice [is] so likely to
result in the violation of constitutional rights, that the
policymaker can reasonably be said to have been deliberately
indifferent to the need." Natale, 318 F.3d at
is made when a decisionmaker possessing] final authority to
establish ... policy with respect to the action issues an
official proclamation, policy or edict.'" Miller
v. Corr. Med. Sys., Inc., 802 F.Supp. at 1132
(alteration in original) (quoting Andrews v. City of
Philadelphia, 895 F.2d 1469, 1480 (3d Cir. 1990)).
"Custom, on the other hand, can be proven by showing
that a given course of conduct, although not specifically
endorsed or authorized by law, is so well-settled and
permanent as virtually to constitute law."
Miller, 802 F.Supp. at 1132 (citing
Andrews, 895 F.2d at 1480; Fletcher v.
O'Donnell, 867 F.2d 791, 793-94 (3d Cir. 1989)).
argues dismissal is appropriate because Plaintiff has not
pled facts sufficient to demonstrate it has a deficient
policy or procedure. It contends that the allegations also do
not state a claim for negligence under Delaware law.
well-established, the legal standard when ruling on Rule
12(b)(6) motions is identical to the standard used when
screening a complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). See Tourscher v. McCullough, 184
F.3d 236, 240 (3d Cir. 1999). The Court previously reviewed
Plaintiff's allegations and found that he stated what
appear to be cognizable and non-frivolous claims.
(See D.I. 9). Nothing has changed since that ruling.
Nonetheless, the Court has revisited the ...