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Andrews v. Phelps

United States District Court, D. Delaware

May 20, 2019

EDWIN C. ANDREWS, Plaintiff,
PERRY PHELPS, et al., Defendants.

          Edwin C. Andrews, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna, Delaware, Pro Se Plaintiff.




         Plaintiff Edwin C. Andrews ("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. 5, 7) The Court proceeds to review and screen the matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b) and § 1915A(a). Plaintiff requests counsel. (D.I. 8, 10)


         Plaintiff suffers from Parkinson's disease. (D.I. 3 at ¶ 17) Named Defendants include Delaware Department of Correction ("DOC") Commissioner Perry Phelps ("Phelps"), Connections Community Support Programs ("Connections"), DOC Acting Medical Director Marc Richman ("Richman"), Dr. A. Jackson ("Dr. Jackson"), Dr. Adrian Harewood ("Dr. Harewood"), VCC Health Care Manager Matt Wofford ("Wofford"), and VCC Warden Dana Metzger ("Metzger") (incorrectly named as "Metzer"). Plaintiff alleges that the DOC and Connections, its medical contractor, "have policies, practices, and customs of not providing needed specialized medical services to incarcerated individuals] who suffer with Parkinson's disease. (Id. at ¶ 1) Plaintiff alleges the policy has left him in severe pain, unable to function, and at risk for serious complications. (Id.)

         Plaintiff began his incarceration on July 1, 2014, and alleges that the next day he was admitted to the hospital with uncontrolled head movement and tremors. (Id. at ¶ 19) On September 26, 2017, Plaintiff was "rushed to Jefferson Hospital ... as a result [of] Parkinson's disease issues, resulting from lack of medications and other issues." (Id. at ¶ 18) On October 2, 2017, Plaintiff was "rushed ... to Kent General Hospital. . . and the same day moved to Jefferson Hospital. (Id. at ¶ 18)

         Plaintiff alleges that outside medical specialists have informed him that he needs to see a neuro ophthalmologist and Defendants "constantly refuse [to] provide services." (Id. at 20) Plaintiff alleges that none of the Defendants have the expertise needed to treat him. (Id. at ¶ 21) Plaintiff further alleges that all Defendants know of his serious medical needs and have intentionally delayed treatment or failed to provide treatment. (Id. at ¶ 24) Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Connections has a financial incentive to avoid providing him the care he requires including sending him to an outside specialist. (Id. at ¶22)

         Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief as well as compensatory and punitive damages. He also requests counsel. (D.I. 8, 10)


         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. 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 Rule 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)). 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).

         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 ...

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