United States District Court, D. Delaware
DONTE L. HOPKINS, Plaintiff,
PERRY PHELPS, Defendant.
L. Hopkins, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna,
Delaware. Pro Se Plaintiff.
ANDREWS, U.S. District Judge
Donte L. Hopkins, an inmate at the James T. Vaughn
Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware, filed this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (D.I. 1). 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
§ 1915A(a). Plaintiff requests counsel. (D.I. 9).
has been incarcerated at the JTVCC since January 2011. He was
sentenced to 15 years to be suspended upon completion of the
Delaware Department of Correction sex offender program.
Plaintiff alleges that he is seriously mentally ill and has
developmental disabilities that could be classified as mildly
retarded and, together, they make it nearly impossible for
him to function in a prison setting. Plaintiff alleges that
because of his disabilities he has been kept in prison longer
and is punished for being seriously mentally ill.
alleges a violation of the Eighth Amendment for denial of
adequate mental health treatment. He alleges that Defendant
DOC Commissioner Perry Phelps is aware of this and it causes
Plaintiff extra years in prison due to his mental
illness. Defendant is sued in his official and
personal capacities. Plaintiff seeks injunctive and
declaratory relief, compensatory and punitive damages, and
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. 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
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
dismissed, however, for imperfect statements of the legal
theory supporting the claim asserted. See Id. at 10.
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 Constr. 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)). Deciding whether a claim is plausible
will be a "context-specific task that requires the
reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common
of Limitations. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant has
been violating his civil rights since January 2011. For
purposes of the statute of limitations, § 1983 claims
are characterized as personal injury actions. Wilson v.
Garcia,471 U.S. 261, 275 (1985). In Delaware, §
1983 claims are subject to a two-year limitations period.
See 10 Del. C. § 8119; Johnson v.
Cullen,925 F.Supp. 244, 248 (D. Del. 1996). Section
1983 claims accrue "when the plaintiff knew or should