United States District Court, D. Delaware
Sullins, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna,
Delaware. Pro Se Plaintiff.
ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Jerome Sullins, 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). Plaintiff appears pro
se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. (D.I. 5). The Court screens and reviews the
Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and
been widely reported, in early February 2017, there was a
prison uprising in the C-Building at the JTVCC that resulted
in the death of correctional officer Lt. Steven Floyd. The
Complaint attempts to raise claims for actions that occurred
following the February 2017 uprising. It contains three
alleges all Defendants violated Plaintiff's right to be
free from cruel and unusual punishment when they conspired
and participated with intent to permit the brutalization of
Plaintiff, knowing he would be injured by the actions of
"the trooper," CERT (i.e., Correction
Emergency Response Team), and correctional officers. (D.I. 3
at ¶ 12). Count I further alleges that Defendants
"approved of the illegal corporal punishment [of
Plaintiff, ] who had nothing [to do] with [the] February 1,
2017 incident." (Id.). Count II alleges
Defendants conspired to deprive Plaintiff of his
constitutional rights when they agreed among themselves to
protect each other from liability "by permitting
correctional staff [to] wear mask[s], deny Plaintiff needed
medical attention as [a] result of the beating and deny
Plaintiff food." (Id. at ¶¶ 13-14).
Count III alleges that Defendants JTVCC Warden Dana Metzger,
Deputy Warden Phil Parker, Deputy Warden-CERT Timothy
Radcliff, Staff Lt. Charles Sennett, and other Defendants in
"intermediate supervisory" positions failed to
exercise due care in the training, supervision,
investigation, and discipline of their subordinates to
prevent them from abusing Plaintiff. (Id. at ¶
alleged, Plaintiff was housed in C-Building, but on the day
in question he was in the infirmary receiving a flu shot.
(D.I. 3 at ¶¶ 1, 10). Plaintiff alleges that he was
beaten, denied food and medical attention, his property was
destroyed, and he was tortured. (Id. at ¶ 1).
Plaintiff alleges that DOC employees and agents came into
SHU-18, where he was housed, and systematically tortured him
although he "had nothing to do with the incident of
February 1, 2017. (Id. at ¶ 6).
alleges that Defendant Perry Phelps, as the Delaware
Department of Correction Commissioner, is responsible for the
overall operation of the DOC, including the operation of
prison facilities. (Id. at ¶ 7). Plaintiff
alleges that his constitutional rights were violated by
Metzger, Parker, Radcliff, Sennett, and Defendants "Six
Masked Unknown Correctional Officers" when they
permitted the masked correctional officers to torture and
abuse and deny him medical care. (Id. at ¶ 8).
He also alleges that Defendants permitted the destruction of
his personal property, which had nothing to do with the
February 1, 2017 incident. (Id. at ¶ 9).
Plaintiff alleges that on March 3, 2018, he was he was strip
searched, required to bark like a dog, and then kicked in the
backside. (Id. at ¶ 11).
seek injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages,
and requests counsel. (Id. at 4)
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).
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 at U.S. 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.3d 103, 114 (3d
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, 574 U.S.10 (2014). A complaint may not