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London v. Evans

United States District Court, D. Delaware

June 27, 2019

KAMILLA DENISE LONDON, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER BRETT EVANS, et al., Defendants.

          Kamilla Denise London, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna, Delaware, Pro Se Plaintiff.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          NOREIKA, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Kamilla Denise London (“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. 2). She appears pro se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (D.I. 5, 7). She has filed a motion to amend pleading and a motion for an extension of time to amend her pleadings. (D.I. 4, 9). The Court proceeds to review and screen the matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b) and § 1915A(a).

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is a transgender woman. She submitted a grievance against Defendant Officer Brett Evans (“Evans”) claiming that Evans had violated her right to privacy. (D.I. 2 at 5). The day before she submitted the grievance, Plaintiff spoke to her building supervisor and area lieutenant about the incident and expressed her concerns that Evans would retaliate “to get back at Plaintiff for [her] grievance against Defendant Evans.” (Id.). Approximately one week later Evans told Plaintiff that he was going to “get [her] back for snitching on me.” (Id.).

         Four days after Evans threatened retaliation, Defendant Lt. Justin Atherholt (“Atherholt”) berated Plaintiff about her state ID and asked Plaintiff why she had submitted a grievance against Evans. (Id.). Atherholt told Plaintiff that she should not have submitted the grievance and that she had “just caused problems for yourself. You gotta remember that your kind is hated here.” (Id.). Atherholt told Plaintiff to “get out.” (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that she took Atherholt's words as a threat and that Plaintiff would face some sort of retaliation. (Id.). Plaintiff submitted a second grievance. (Id.).

         On March 18, 2019, Evans filed charges against Plaintiff for sexual misconduct and other offenses after Plaintiff hugged and kissed her biological brother. (Id. at 7). Evans had told Plaintiff that he was going to write her up. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that Evans made several misrepresentations regarding the events that led to the charges. (Id.).

         One hour later Plaintiff was called out by Atherholt to receive a formal copy of the charge and for a preliminary hearing on the charges. (Id.). Following a verbal exchange, Plaintiff told Atherholt that she was not going through with the hearing because of Atherholt's disrespect and inappropriate comments and Atherholt told Plaintiff that if she did not sign the writeup he would “tack on more charges for being uncooperative.” (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that due to the threat she signed the write-up. (Id.).

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Warden Dana Metzger (“Metzger”), Bureau Chief Shane Troxler (“Troxler”), and Commissioner Perry Phelps (“Phelps”) “are at partial fault here for maintaining policies and practices which led up to this incident, as well as for maintaining and enforcing disciplinary charges that are unconstitutionally overbroad, vague, and ambiguous.” (Id. at 8).

         Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and compensatory damages. (Id. at 9).

         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. 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, her pleading is liberally construed and her 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, ...


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