United States District Court, D. Delaware
VANESSA L. NAISHA, Plaintiff,
DANA METZGER, et al., Defendants.
Vanessa L. Naisha, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center,
Smyrna, Delaware. Pro Se Plaintiff.
ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Vanessa L. Naisha, an inmate at the James T. Vaughn
Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware, filed this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (D.I. 1). She appears
pro se and has paid the filing fee. She requests
counsel. (D.I. 7). The Court screens and reviews the
Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and
a transgender who identifies as a woman, is housed in the
Residential Treatment Center at JTVCC. On February 7, 2018,
correctional officers announced a shakedown was taking place
and ordered Plaintiff and another inmate to leave their cell
and to go into the shower. (D.I. 1 at 2). While there, Sgt.
Jones instructed Plaintiff to "strip out" because
Jones was conducting a strip search. (Id. at 3).
Plaintiff replied that she is not comfortable undressing in
the presence of a male officer. (Id.). Jones told
Plaintiff he would contact Defendant Lt. Keshaw Travies, a
female, about the issue.
ten minutes later, Defendant Officer Arabia arrived at the
shower, and instructed Plaintiff to cuff up because she would
either be going to the hole or forced by male officers to
strip. (Id.). Plaintiff undressed, and Arabia
conducted a visual inspection. (Id.). Minutes later
another correctional officer told Plaintiff to file a
complaint under the Prison Rape Elimination Act. Plaintiff
alleges that Travies was in the area at the time and in a
position to correct Arabia but, instead, Travies ratified and
condoned his actions. (Id. at 8). Plaintiff alleges
that Defendant Warden Dana Metzger violated her
constitutional rights by not having a policy in place to
protect transgender inmates from being stripped by male
searching Plaintiffs cell, correctional officers discovered a
razor blade in one of Plaintiff's sneakers which they
confiscated. (Id. at 4). They also confiscated a
soda bottle that contained juice. (Id.). Plaintiff
was advised that she would be receiving a disciplinary ticket
for having contraband. (Id. at 5). Later that
evening, Travies served Plaintiff with two disciplinary
reports. (Id. at 6). Plaintiff entered a guilty plea
to one report and pled not guilty to the other one.
(Id.). Travies returned Plaintiff's sneakers and
at the same time stated, "don't be filing PREAs with
my officers." (Id.).
February 9, 2018, Defendant Lt. Burman found Plaintiff guilty
of the infractions without calling Plaintiff's witness,
allowing her to confront her accuser, allowing counsel, and
without proof. (Id.) Plaintiff told Burman she
wished to appeal, but when the appeal papers were not given
to her she wrote the appeal on regular paper and mailed it
via in-house mail to the appeal office. (Id.).
Plaintiff was sanctioned 30 days loss of all privileges for
one disciplinary report and 31 days loss of all privileges
for the other report. (D.I. 1 at 12, 16). Plaintiff submitted
grievances and was told that the matter had been referred to
the PREA office for investigation.
alleges Defendants' actions violated her constitutional
rights. She seeks declaratory and injunctive relief as well
as compensatory and punitive damages.
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, her pleading is liberally
construed and her complaint, "however in artfully
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. §
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. 999). 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.3d103, 114(3dCir.
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 be dismissed, ...