United States District Court, D. Delaware
Ernest Dorian Cephas, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center,
Smyrna, Delaware. Pro Se Plaintiff.
ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Vernon Ernest Dorian Cephas, an inmate at the James T. Vaughn
Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware, filed this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (D.I. 3). He appears pro
se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. (D.I. 7). The Court screened and reviewed the
original complaint (D.I. 3, 9) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2) and § 1915A(a), dismissed several claims and
gave Plaintiff leave to amend. (See D.I. 11, 12). The Court
will screen and review Plaintiff's Amended Complaint and
address his motion for reconsideration.
(D.I. 19, 20).
facts as set forth in the original complaint are thoroughly
described in the Court's October 2, 2018 Memorandum
Opinion. (See D.I. 11). Plaintiff complains of actions taken
when he was both an unsentenced detainee and a sentenced
inmate at the JTVCC. Count Ones and Four of the Amended
Complaint (D.I. 19) allege deliberate indifference to medical
needs in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth
Amendments; Count Two alleges retaliation in violation
of the First Amendment; and Count Three alleges denial of the
right to due process in violation of the Fourteenth
Amendment. Upon screening of the original complaint the Court
dismissed Defendants Connections Community Support Programs,
Inc. ("Connections"), Physician Assistant Deadra
Parker ("Parker"), Marc Richman
("Richman"), Deputy Warden Parker ("Warden
Parker"), Captain Bruce Burton ("Burton"), Lt.
Tony Benson ("Benson"), Lt. Stevenson
("Stevenson"), and Warden Dana Metzger
("Metzger"). It also dismissed Count One as
frivolous and Count Three as frivolous and for failure to
was allowed to proceed against Deputy Warden Scarborough
("Scarborough"), R.N. Tyler Bohanan
("Bohanan"), and R.N. Amy Malkin
("Malkin") on the retaliation claim. In addition,
Plaintiff was allowed to proceed against Dr. Adrian Harewood
("Dr. Harewood") on a medical needs claim he raised
in an amendment (D.I. 9) and that is now found at Count Four
of the Amended Complaint (D.I. 19).
the Court screened the original Complaint, Plaintiff was
given leave to amend a medical needs claim for refusing to
treat his blood pressure condition and high cholesterol as
alleged in the Amendment at D.I. 9, and the Count Three
retaliation claim against Warden Metzger. He was not given
leave to amend any other claims.
seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as
compensatory and punitive damages. In addition, he moves for
reconsideration of the denial of his request for counsel.
SCREENING OF AMENDED COMPLAINT
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 pro se plaintiff. 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
v. Pardus, 551 U.S. at 94.
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; Wilson v.
Rackmill, 878 F.2d 772, 774 (3d Cir. 1989).
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
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 and 1915A,
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.3dlO3, H4(3dCir.
well-pleaded complaint must contain more than mere labels and
conclusions. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662
(2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544
(2007). 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 dismissed, however, for imperfect
statements of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted.
See Id. at 346.
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 then determine
whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.
Connelly v. Lane Const Corp.,809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d
Cir. 2016). Elements are sufficiently alleged when the facts
in the complaint "show" that the plaintiff is
entitled to relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). ...