United States District Court, D. Delaware
WILLIAM C. FLETCHER, JR., Plaintiff,
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al, Defendants.
William C. Fletcher, Jr., pro se
Plaintiff Dana Spring Monzo, Karine Sarkisian, White and
Williams LLP, Wilmington, DE - attorneys for Defendant
Connections Community Support Programs
NOREHLK, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
William C. Fletcher ("Plaintiff or
"Fletcher"), an inmate at the Howard R. Young
Correctional Institution ("HRYCI"),  filed his
complaint pro se on June 2, 2017 against the
Delaware Department of Corrections ("DOC") and
Connections Community Support Programs'
("Connections"). (D.I. 3). He has been granted
leave to proceed to proceed in forma pauper is.
(D.I. 5). Fletcher alleges he was retaliated against by
Connections when it failed to provide him mental health and
medical care following grievances he submitted. (D.I. 3 at 2,
5; D.I. 3-1 at 5-8). After the Court reviewed and screened
the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and
§ 1915A(b)(J), it dismissed the DOC because of its
immunity from suit, but allowed the apparently non-frivolous
and cognizable retaliation claims against Connections to
proceed. (D.I. 13).
before the Court is Connections' Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiffs Complaint for failure to state a claim asserting
that the Complaint fails to allege that it maintained a
policy, practice, or custom that caused the alleged
inadequate medical care. (D.I. 18). The motion was filed with
a supporting opening brief on January 3, 2018. Plaintiff has
not responded. For the reasons set forth herein,
Connections' motion is denied.
motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) may be granted
only if, accepting the well-pleaded allegations in the
complaint as true and viewing them in the light most
favorable to the complainant, the Court concludes that those
allegations "could not raise a claim of entitlement to
relief." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 558 (2007); Connelly v. Lane Const. Corp.,
809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 2016). "Though '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). "To 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 plaintiff must plead
facts sufficient to show that a claim has substantive
plausibility. See Johnson v. City of Shelby, 135
S.Ct. 346, 347 (2014). 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." Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). 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 679.
plaintiff relies upon a theory of respondeat
superior to hold a corporation liable, he must allege a
policy or custom that demonstrates such 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 Connections is directly liable for the alleged
constitutional violations, Fletcher "must provide
evidence that there was a relevant [Connections] policy or
custom, and that the policy caused the constitutional
violation[s] [plaintiff] allege[s]." Natale v.
Camden Cty. Facility, 318 F.3d 575, 584 (3d Cir. 2003)
(because respondeat superior or vicarious liability
cannot be a basis for liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
a corporation under contract with the state cannot be held
liable for the acts of its employees and agents under those
theories). If, however, the acts of a Connections'
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.
See Natale, 318 F .3d at 584 (citations omitted).
is made when a decisionmaker possess[ing] final authority to
establish . . . policy with respect to the action issues an
official proclamation, policy or edict."
Miller, 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." Id. (citing Andrews, 895 F.2d at
1480; Fletcher v. O'Donnell, 867 F.2d 791,
793-94 (3d Cir. 1989)).
noted above, Connections asserts that dismissal is required
because Fletcher has not pleaded facts sufficient to
demonstrate it has a deficient policy or procedure. (D.I.
18). The legal standard when ruling on Rule 12(b)(6) motions,
however, is identical to the standard used when screening a
complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).
Castillov. Kelly, 690 Fed.Appx. 96, 97 (3d Cir.
2017) ("When dismissing complaints for failure to state
a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), th[e] standard of
review is the same as under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)"). The
Court previously reviewed Fletcher's allegations and
found that he stated what appear to be cognizable and
non-frivolous claims. (D.I. 13). Nothing has changed since
that ruling. Nevertheless, the Court has revisited the
allegations, liberally construed them, and finds that
Fletcher adequately raises medical needs claims under the
allegations are that Fletcher participated in a behavior
modification program that is run by Connections. (D.I. 3-1 at
1). Fletcher alleges that his counselor in the program
approached him to arrange a job interview at a car dealership
where Fletcher was employed prior to his incarceration.
(Id.). Fletcher advised the counselor that doing so
would break DOC rules, but the counselor nevertheless told
Fletcher "to do it and arranged a special call" to
allow Fletcher to arrange the interview for the counselor.
Complaint alleges that after the counselor was interviewed,
he returned to work upset because he was told there would be
no job openings for four to five weeks. (D.I. 3-1 at 2).
Fletcher alleges that the counselor was paranoid that
Fletcher would tell someone what the counselor had done and
thus orchestrated a write-up to get Fletcher kicked out of
the program. (D.I. 3-1 at 2-3). Fletcher submitted a
grievance after he was kicked out of the program that
referred to the counselor and the car dealership employment.
(D.I. 3-1 at 3). Fletcher was then interviewed by someone at
Connections. (Id.). When there was no resolution,
Fletcher submitted another grievance, but received no
response. (D.I. 3-1 at 3-4).
Fletcher alleges that he spoke to DOC employees and wrote a
letter to the warden. (Id.). After that, Fletcher
was interviewed by Internal Affairs and was told that the
counselor would not work at the DOC again. (D.I. 3-1 at 4-5).
The counselor no longer works in the program. (Id.).
At some point in time prior to his discharge, the counselor
and others working for Connections at the DOC became aware of
Fletcher's grievances. (D.I. 3-1 at 5). He alleges that
after that his mental health care was neglected, he had strep
throat and pneumonia, and went to medical every day for 35
days before he finally received treatment. (D.I. 3-1 at 5-6).
In addition, Fletcher alleges that: (1) there have been
repeated delays in the receipt of eye glasses; (2) he has
skin cancer but Connections refuses to provide a biopsy; (3)
medical personnel will not draw his blood and made him draw
his own blood; (4) his ...