United States District Court, D. Delaware
Curtis, Howard R. Young Correctional Institution, Wilmington,
Delaware, Pro Se Plaintiff.
CONNOLLY, U.S. District Judge.
George Curtis ("Plaintiff'), a former inmate at the
James T. Vaughn Correctional Center ("VCC") in
Smyrna, Delaware, now housed at the Howard R. Young
Correctional Institution ("HRYCI") in Wilmington,
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. 5) The Court proceeds to review and screen the matter
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b) and §
October 29, 2016, Plaintiff was attacked and injured by two
gang members armed with razors. After receiving medical
treatment, Plaintiff was transferred to the Secured Housing
Unit ("SHU"). That month, Plaintiff wrote to DOC
staff and requested a transfer. He was informed that he would
remained housed in the SHU for his own protection.
December 2016, a different gang member asked DOC staff to
open Plaintiff's cell door, despite the fact that it was
not Plaintiffs recreation time. Unnamed staff electronically
opened Plaintiffs door, and Plaintiff was attacked by the
gang member. Plaintiff alleges the attack was in retaliation
because the first two gang members had been charged
criminally for the October 2016 incident. As a result of the
attack, Plaintiff again asked for a transfer, but his request
seeks a transfer to another institution and two million
dollars in punitive damages. The Court docket reflects that
Plaintiff was housed at the VCC when he commenced this action
in September 2018, but an October 24, 2018 filing indicates
that he was transferred and is now housed at the HRYCI.
(See D.I. 6)
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. 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
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
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 Rule 12(b)(6) motions. See Tourscherv.
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)). However, before
dismissing a complaint or claims for failure to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted pursuant to the screening
provisions of 28 U.S.C. §§1915 and 1915A, 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).
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." Daw's v.
Abington Mem'lHosp., 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, 574 U.S. 10, 10 (2014). A
complaint may not be dismissed 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) assume the veracity of any
well-pleaded factual allegations and then determine whether
those allegations plausibly give rise to an entitlement to
relief. Connelly v. Lane Const. Corp.,809 F.3d 780,
787 (3d Cir. 2016) (internal citations and quotations
omitted). 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