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Boone v. Probation And Parole of New Castle County

United States District Court, D. Delaware

April 24, 2019

KEVIN H. BOONE, Plaintiff,
v.
PROBATION AND PAROLE OF NEW CASTLE COUNTY, DE, et al., Defendants.

          Kevin H. Boone, Howard R. Young Correctional Institution, Wilmington, Delaware, Pro Se Plaintiff.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          NOREIKA, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Kevin H. Boone (“Plaintiff), an inmate at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington, Delaware, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] (D.I. 3, 6). He appears pro se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (D.I. 8). The Court proceeds to review and screen the matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b) and § 1915A(a).

         I. BACKGROUND

         When the action was commenced, in addition to Plaintiff, Ralph Lewis Boone, Michelle Louise Boone, and Steven Michael Boone were named Plaintiffs. Ralph Lewis Boone, Michelle Louise Boone, and Steven Michael Boone were dismissed as Plaintiffs on December 11, 2018. (See D.I. 10). The Defendants are Probation and Parole of New Castle County, Delaware (“Probation and Parole”), Delaware State Police Troop (“DSP”), and Probation/Parole Officer Leo Matkins (“Matkins”). Plaintiff alleges violations of the Fourth Amendment, perjury, defamation of character, slander, and withholding personal information and documentation.

         Plaintiff is a convicted sex offender. The Complaint refers to two incidents that occurred on separate dates. The first incident occurred on November 30, 2017, when Matkins determined that Plaintiff was in violation of his probation, and Plaintiff was arrested. Multiple probation and DSP officers subsequently searched Plaintiffs room at his parents' house. Plaintiff indicates this is the standard operating procedure after violating a probationer. He alleges that an orange folder was taken from his bedroom. The bedroom of Plaintiff s brother, Steven Michael Boone, was also searched and items were seized. Plaintiff alleges the search of his brother's bedroom was unconstitutional because it was searched without the officers first obtaining a search warrant. Plaintiff alleges that the items taken significantly hindered his brother's efforts to complete his school work.

         The second incident occurred on December 20, 2017, when Plaintiff alleges that Matkins gave perjured testimony and defamed him during Plaintiff's violation of probation hearing and testified that Plaintiff had been assessed a “high risk to reoffend.” (D.I. 3 at 6). Plaintiff alleges he later found out that treatment staff rated him as a “moderate risk to reoffend.” (Id.).

         For relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages and the return of his orange folder. He also seeks the termination or reprimand of Matkins and the police and probation officers who searched his parents' residence.

         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 grant a 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).

         A complaint may be dismissed 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.” Davis v. Abington Mem'l Hosp., 765 F.3d 236, 241 (3d Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted). In addition, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. See Williams v. BASF Catalysts LLC, 765 F.3d 306, 315 (3d Cir. 2014) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) and Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Finally, 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 for imperfect statements of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted. See id. at 346.

         Under the pleading regime established by Twombly and Iqbal, a court reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint must take three steps: (1) take note of the elements the plaintiff must plead to state a claim; (2) identify allegations that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth; and (3) when there are well-pleaded factual allegations, assume their veracity and determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief. See Connelly v. Lane Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 2016); see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). Deciding ...


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