United States District Court, D. Delaware
LYNELL B. TUCKER, Plaintiff,
DELAWARE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION, PERRY PHELPS, solely in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Delaware Department of Correction, and CONNECTIONS COMMUNITY SUPPORT PROGRAMS, INC., Defendants.
D. Smith II, Stephen J. Kraftschik, and Anthony D. Raucci,
MORRIS, NICHOLS, ARSHT & TUNNELL LLP, Wilmington,
Delaware Attorneys for Plaintiff.
Stephen J. Milewski and Roopa Sabesan, WHITE AND WILLIAMS
LLP, Wilmington, DE Attorneys for Defendant Connections
Community Support Programs, Inc.
V.S. District Judge:
Lynell B. Tucker ("Plaintiff) is an inmate at James T.
Vaughn Correctional Center ("Vaughn"), located in
Smyrna, Delaware. Plaintiff filed this action pro se
on May 12, 2016. (D.I. 6) The Court dismissed Plaintiffs
original complaint for failure to state a claim, but granted
leave to amend and granted Plaintiffs request for counsel
through the Federal Civil Panel. (D.I. 19 at 7) With the
assistance of counsel, Plaintiff filed the now-operative
Amended Complaint on July 7, 2018, asserting claims under 42
U.S.C. Section 1983 and the Americans with Disabilities Act
("ADA"). (D.I. 37) ("Complaint" or
"Compl.") Defendants Delaware Department of
Correction ("DOC") and Perry Phelps
("Phelps") answered Plaintiffs Complaint on July
30, 2018. (D.I. 41)
before the Court is Defendant Connections Community Support
Programs, Inc.'s ("Connections") motion to
dismiss for failure to state a claim. (D.I. 44) The Court
will grant in part and deny in part Connections' motion.
provides mental health care services for DOC facilities.
Plaintiff alleges he was provided constitutionally-deficient
mental health care from Connections while incarcerated at
Vaughn. Plaintiff is diagnosed with Major Depressive
Disorder, Recurrent Episodes, Mild; and Antisocial
Personality Disorder. (Compl. at ¶ 7) While in custody,
and placed at the Delaware Psychiatric Center, he was
diagnosed with "Conduct Disorder," "Reading
Disorder," "Disorder of Written Expression,"
"Math Disorder," "Antisocial Traits," and
"Borderline Intellectual Functioning," and was
found to have a "Global Assessment of Functioning"
or "GAF" score of 50. (Id. at ¶ 8)
Plaintiff can be described as having a serious mental illness
("SMI"). (Id. at ¶ 7)
developed an Individual Treatment Plan ("ITP") for
Plaintiff, which recommended he be housed in a Residential
Treatment Center ("RTC") which provides an
outpatient standard of care. (D.I. 45 at 4; Compl. at ¶
9) His most recent ITP recommends "45 minutes of
individual therapy once a week, and 60 minutes of group
therapy five times a week." (Compl. at
complains he has suffered a "degradation of his mental
health" from extended stays in the Secured Housing Unit
("SHU"). (Id. at ¶¶ 13-15) SHU
involves solitary confinement for 21.5 hours per day in a
8' x 13' cell, and while housed in SHU Plaintiff was
not provided with his recommended mental health treatment.
(Id. at ¶ 14) Plaintiff describes his SHU
confinement as a cycle, brought on as a punishment for
behaviors emblematic of his mental health problems, and
causing only increasing manifestations of those same issues.
(Id. at ¶ 15)Plaintiff alleges "it has
been Connections' policy, custom, or practice to
acquiesce to such treatment." (Id. at ¶
18) Plaintiff notes a plethora of mental and physical harms
that solitary confinement can cause a prisoner with SMI,
including "insomnia, anxiety, panic, withdrawal,
hypersensitivity to stimuli, ruminations, cognitive
dysfunction, hallucinations, loss of control, aggression,
rage, paranoia, hopelessness, depression, self-mutilation,
and suicidal ideation and behavior." (Mat¶21)
separate issue, Plaintiff alleges that Connections
disregarded his medical history and his objections by
prescribing risperidone, which caused him to suffer an
adverse reaction. Treatment notes for Plaintiffs admission to
St. Francis Hospital on August 23, 2005 indicate he suffered
from priapism (prolonged erection), apparently caused by
zoloft and risperdal (a form of risperidone). (Id.
at ¶ 28) A November 3, 2006 medical opinion recommended
that Plaintiff not take risperidone, zoloft, or zyprexa for
fear of priapism. (Id. at ¶ 29) Plaintiff
alleges that despite this history, Connections employees
prescribed risperidone at Vaughn in 2014, and told him that
it could not cause priapism. (Id. at ¶ 31)
Plaintiff refused to take the medication on September 12, 15,
16, 17, and 18. (Id. at ¶ 32) Still, he was
given risperidone at 3:30 p.m. on September 18, 2014, and
noticed priapism beginning around 5:30 p.m., followed shortly
after by excruciating pain. (Id. at ¶¶
33-34) He was seen by a Connections nurse at 8:30 a.m. the
next day and taken to Kent General Hospital at 9:45 a.m.,
where he was treated and advised of the risk of permanent
injury. (Id. at ¶ 35) Plaintiff alleges that
even after this incident, he was offered risperidone by a
Connections nurse. (Id. at¶36) Plaintiff
alleges his suffering resulted from a failure to provide
immediate treatment, a failure to train and supervise prison
staff to deal with such situations, and a systemic failure to
review and consider inmates' refusal of medicines.
Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim
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 ...