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Jones v. Dover Behavioral Health System

United States District Court, D. Delaware

December 12, 2018


          Matthew Jones, Greenwood, Delaware. Pro Se Plaintiff.


          ANDREWS, U.S. District Judge:

         Plaintiff Matthew Jones, who appears pro se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, filed this action in March 2017 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The matter was transferred to this Court on April 10, 2017. (D.I. 4). The Court screened the Amended Complaint, dismissed it, and gave Jones leave to amend. A Second Amended Complaint was filed on October 11, 2018 asserting jurisdiction by reason of a federal question and federal diversity. (D.I. 23). The Court now proceeds to screen the Second Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).[1]


         The Second Amended Complaint alleges the matters complained of occurred between February 10, 2017 through February 22, 2017 and is raised against Defendants Dover Behavioral Health System and Dr. A.M. Shah (who is not mentioned in the Second Amended Complaint other than naming him as a party).[2] On January 31, 2017, Plaintiff's mother called Recovery Innovations and the Delaware State Police to take Plaintiff for a psych evaluation. (D.I. 23 at 3). Plaintiff alleges that he was arrested and held at Nanticoke Hospital for over twelve hours. (Id. at 4). He was transported to Recovery Innovations after his hold at Nanticoke expired. (Id.). There, Jones was diagnosed with schizophrenia. (Id.). Jones was held at Recovery Innovations for almost 24 hours and transferred to Dover Behavioral Health. (Id.). Jones alleges he was involuntarily held there under February 22, 2017. (Id.).

         Jones alleges that two hearings were held at the Kent County Superior Court while he was at Dover Behavioral Health, that he was unable to attend the hearings, and that they were therefore held with him in absentia. (Id.). The hearings found Jones "under Court Order to continue treatment for Schizophrenia, take medications and see a Psychiatrist." (Id.) Jones states, "There are no Doctors or Court Personnel locally. All are represented by Identity Thieves who normally do not age. Many have shabby, unbelievable names." (Id.).

         Claim I alleges violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1035 (false statements relating to health care matters), and Claim II alleges violations of 18 U.S.C. § 7 (assaults). (Id. at 6). The Second Amended Complaint also contains a litany of other federal criminal statutes referred to as "Crimes, Counts, Titles, Laws, Broke, Cited." (Id. at 7-9). In other words, all claims are raised under federal criminal statutes. Jones seeks two billion dollars in damages. (Id. at 10).


         A federal court may properly dismiss an action sua sponte under the screening provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(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). 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).

         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), 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).

         The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) 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). 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, 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.3d 103, 114 (3d Cir. 2002).

         Plaintiff proceeds pro se and, therefore, his pleading is liberally construed and his amended complaint, "however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Under Rule 12(b)(6), a motion to dismiss 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 plaintiff, 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 (2007). "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.'" Daw's v. Abington Mem'l Hosp., 765 F.3d 236, 241 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). In addition, 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 complaint may not be dismissed, however, for imperfect statements of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted. See Id. at 346.

         When reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, a court should follow a three-step process: (1) consider the elements necessary to state a claim; (2) identify allegations that are merely conclusions and therefore are not well-pleaded factual allegations; and (3) accept any well-pleaded factual allegations as true and determine whether they, plausibly state a claim. See Connelly v. Lane Constr. Corp.,809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 2016); Williams v. BASF Catalysts LLC,765 F.3d 306, 315 (3d Cir. 2014). Deciding whether a claim is plausible ...

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