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Washington v. Richman

United States District Court, D. Delaware

April 24, 2019

MARLON D. WASHINGTON, Plaintiff,
v.
MARK RICHMAN, et al., Defendants.

          Marlon D. Washington, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna, Delaware, Pro Se Plaintiff.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          NOREIKA, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Marlon D. Washington (“Plaintiff), an inmate at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center (“VCC”) in Smyrna, Delaware, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1](D.I. 3). He appears pro se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (D.I. 6). He also requests counsel. (D.I. 4). The Court proceeds to review and screen the matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b) and § 1915A(a).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was diagnosed with epilepsy after he suffered serious head trauma. Upon his incarceration, he was processed and interviewed by the VCC medical staff on August 3, 2011. At that time, he informed them of his epilepsy diagnosis and that a physician had prescribed medication for the condition. The medical staff determined that Plaintiff should continue to receive the medication and immediately issued him a daily regimen of the prescribed medications.

         On May 1, 2012, Defendant Jones (“Jones”), a contract medical provider, determined that Plaintiff did not need the medication without examining Plaintiff or referring him to a physician before terminating the medication. Before he left medical, Plaintiff complained to Defendant Rodgers (“Rodgers”), the head medical provider, who agreed with Jones that Plaintiff did not need the medication. The next day, May 2, 2012, Plaintiff suffered a grand mal seizure.

         Plaintiff continued to suffer grand mal seizures and other related symptoms and, on December 29, 2014, the necessary medication was reinstated. In April 2015, Plaintiff was sent to an outside neurologist for the seizures and symptoms he had been suffering. The neurologist determined that Plaintiff should take 750 mg of Keppra, an antiepileptic drug, twice daily. See https://www.rxlist.com/keppra-drug.htm (last visited April 22, 2019).

         When Plaintiff returned to the VCC, Defendant Lyneh Ray (“Ray”) prescribed him 1500 mg of Keppra, twice daily. When Plaintiff began taking the 1500 mg twice daily, he began experiencing severe headaches, slurred speech, blurred vision, sluggishness, and clumsiness. Plaintiff submitted sick call slips and grievances complaining of his symptoms. Nineteen months later (i.e., November 2016), Plaintiff was again seen by the outside neurologist who found that Plaintiff had been receiving an incorrect dose of Keppra. The neurologist again prescribed 750 mg of Keppra, twice daily. Plaintiff alleges that he continues to suffer repercussions from being over medicated.

         The claims raised are that: (1) Jones, Rodgers, and Ray were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical needs when they refused to provide him the prescribed medication in violation of the Eighth Amendment; (2) Defendant Connections Community Support Programs (“Connections”) has a policy of restricting or denying follow-up up care by a physician and Jones, Rodgers, and Ray followed Connections' policy when they denied Plaintiff any follow-up care; and (3) Connections failed to take steps to ensure that Plaintiff received the needed treatment. The Complaint also names as defendants Chief of the Bureau of Correctional Health Care Services Mark Richman (“Richman”), VCC Warden Dana Metzger (“Metzger”), and Warden Pierce (“Pierce”), although there are no factual allegations raised against them.

         For relief, Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

         II. LEGAL STANDARDS

         A 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); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e (prisoner actions brought with respect to prison conditions). The Court must accept all factual allegations in a complaint as true and take them in the light most favorable to a plaintiff. See Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 229 (3d Cir. 2008); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007). 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 pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94 (citations omitted).

         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) 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; see also Wilson v. Rackmill, 878 F.2d 772, 774 (3d Cir. 1989); Deutsch v. United States, 67 F.3d 1080, 1091-92 (3d Cir. 1995) (holding frivolous a suit alleging that prison officials took an inmate's pen and refused to give it back).

         The 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 deciding Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motions. See Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236, 240 (3d Cir. 1999) (applying Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) standard to dismissal for failure to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)). 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, however, the Court must ...


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