United States District Court, D. Delaware
Cornell Hester, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections,
SCI-Chester, Chester, Pennsylvania, Pro Se Plaintiff.
Clement Handlon, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department
of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for Defendants.
U.S. District Judge.
Cornell Hester ("Plaintiff), a former inmate at the
James T. Vaughn Correctional Center ("VCC") in
Smyrna, Delaware, filed this action alleging constitutional
violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C § 1983. (D.I. 2) He is
now housed at SCI-Chester in Chester, Pennsylvania. Plaintiff
appears pro se and has been granted leave to proceed
in forma paitperis. (D.I. 9) Before the Court is
Defendants' motion to dismiss and Plaintiffs opposition.
(D.I. 12, 14)
was an inmate at the VCC when a February 1-2, 2017 hostage
incident took place and resulted in the death of a
corrections officer. Plaintiff was housed in C Building at
the VCC. He alleges he was an inmate hostage and then beaten
during the rescue. Following die incident, Plaintiff was
transferred to the Secured Housing Unit ("SHU").
Prior to the transfer, Plaintiff had a medium status level
classification. Plaintiff alleges his placement in SHU
violated the Eighth Amendment as well as his right to due
process. He states that former VCC Warden David Pierce
("Pierce") considered all 120 inmate hostages as
suspects and placed them in maximum confinement. According to
Plaintiff, this placement meant he was "illegally found
guilty" when he had not been charged with a crime.
also alleges that he sustained a serious injury when he was
taken hostage, was mentally and emotionally oppressed, and
was having anxiety attacks. He also alleges he was lacked in
die back and, as a result, threw up blood for 38 days,
without receiving medical attention or treatment. Plaintiff
alleges that he was denied medical attention and treatment on
direct order from Pierce. Plaintiff alleges that is
"having mental psychological defects" from the
maximum security housing. He has requested mental health help
and has been on a waiting list since the hostage incident He
commenced this action on March 20, 2017.
move for dismissal pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) on the
grounds that three of the four defendants are not mentioned
in the Complaint and Pierce appears to have been named
because he was a warden at the time of the February incident
and when C Building inmates were subsequently transferred to
restrictive housing. Plaintiff opposes the motion, seeks a
stay and an evidentiary hearing, and requests counsel.
a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) requires the Court to accept as true all material
allegations of the complaint. See Spruill v. Gillis,
372 F.3d 218, 223 (3d Cir. 2004). "The issue is not
whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the
claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the
claims." In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec.
Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1420 (3d Cir. 1997) (internal
quotation marks omitted). Thus, the Court may grant such a
motion to dismiss only if, after "accepting all
well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, and
viewing them in the light most favorable to plaintiff,
plaintiff is not entitled to relief." Maio v. Aetna,
Inc., 221 F.3d 472, 481-82 (3d Cir. 2000) (internal
quotation marks omitted). A district court ruling on a motion
to dismiss may consider the facts alleged on the face of the
complaint, as well as "documents incorporated into the
complaint by reference, and matters of which a court may take
judicial notice." Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues
& Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007).
well-pleaded complaint must contain more than mere labels and
conclusions. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009); Bell At/. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (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.
survive a motion to dismiss, a civil plaintiff must allege
facts that 'raise a right to relief above the speculative
level on the assumption that the allegations in the complaint
are true (even if doubtful in fact).'" Victaulic
Co. v. Tieman, 499 F.3d 227, 234 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). A claim is facially
plausible "when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. At bottom, "[t]he
complaint must state enough facts to raise a reasonable
expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of [each]
necessary element" of a plaintiffs claim. Wilkerson
v. New Media Tech. Charter Sch. Inc., 522 F.3d 315, 321
(3d Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Court is not obligated to accept as true "bald
assertions," Morse v. Lower Merion Scb. Dist.,132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997) (internal quotation marks
omitted), "unsupported conclusions and unwarranted
inferences," Scbuylkill Energy Res., Inc. p.
Pennsylvania Power & Light Co.,113 F.3d 405, 417
(3d Cir. 1997), or allegations that are "self-evidently
false," Nami v. Fauver,82 F.3d 63, 69 (3d Cir.
1996). 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 ...