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Carter v. Richman

United States District Court, D. Delaware

May 20, 2019

JERMAINE LAYTON CARTER, Plaintiff,
v.
MARC RICHMAN, et al., Defendants.

          Jermaine Layton Carter, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna, Delaware, Pro Se Plaintiff.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          CONNOLLY, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Jermaine Layton Carter ("Plaintiff"), an inmate at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] (D.I. 1) He appears pro se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (D.I. 10) The Court dismissed the original Complaint and gave Plaintiff leave to amend. The Court proceeds to review and screen the Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b) and § 1915A(a). (D.I. 17)

         II. BACKGROUND

         The original complaint alleged that a "body device" was used on Plaintiff that causes him medical and emotional problems. (D.I. 1) The "body device" was not described and the Court was unable to discern from the Complaint exactly what it is. As alleged, Defendant Marc Richman is the Healthcare Services Bureau Chief and Steven Wesley is the Bureau of Prisons Bureau Chief. Defendants were dismissed as the claims against them rested impermissibly under a theory of respondeat superior liability. Given the lack of clarity in the allegations and Plaintiff's pro se status the Complaint was dismissed and Plaintiff was given an opportunity to file an amended complaint.

         The Amended Complaint rests on the allegations of the original complaint, but amends paragraph 14 of the original complaint. (D.I. 17) The original Paragraph 14 states, "I sue each of Defendants in this case in official capacity." (D.I. 1 at ¶ 14) The Amended Complaint alleges that Plaintiff exhausted his remedies under the Prison Litigation Reform Act and the final remedy is the responsibility of Wesley or Richman according to Grievance Policy 4.4 (D.I. 17 at 1) It further alleges that the "personal involvement of both Bureau Chiefs was when [Plaintiff] exhausted his remedies in which a policy of what they are responsible for." (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that since he exhausted his remedies the Bureau Chiefs are now responsible "to come up with a new policy for whatever body device" and "no one else can change the policy now" but Defendants. (Id. at 2)

         Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and a "safe new policy for the use of any body device" and for Defendants "to show how they enforce the policy at government meetings." (D.I. 1 at 9; D.I. 5 at 2)

         III. 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 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 (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; Wilson v. Rackmill, 878 F.2d 772, 774 (3d Cir. 1989).

         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 ruling on Rule 12(b)(6) motions. Tourscherv. 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.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." Daw's 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, 574 U.S. 10 (2014). A complaint may not be dismissed for imperfect statements of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted. See Id. at 10.

         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) 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 Fed.R.Civ.P. ...


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