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Washington v. Ray

United States District Court, D. Delaware

July 8, 2019

MARLON D. WASHINGTON, Plaintiff,
v.
LYNEH RAY, et al., Defendants.

          Marlon D. Washington, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna, Delaware, Pro Se Plaintiff.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          NOREIKA, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Marlon D. Washington ("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. 6). The Court reviewed and screened the original complaint, dismissed it, and gave Plaintiff leave to amend against Defendants Lyneh Ray ("Ray") and Connections Community Support Programs ("Connections"). (D.I. 15, 16). Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on May 22, 2019. (D.I. 17). The Court proceeds to screen the Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b) and § 1915A(a).

         II. BACKGROUND

         With the exception of omitted time-barred allegations, the allegations in the Amended Complaint are very similar to those in the original Complaint. (Compare D.I. 3 to D.I. 17). Plaintiff alleges that in April 2015, he was sent to an outside neurologist for seizures and symptoms he had been suffering. The neurologist determined that Plaintiff should take 750 mg of Keppra, an antiepileptic drug, twice daily. See https://www.rxlist.com/keppra-drug.htm (last visited April 22, 2019).

         When Plaintiff returned to the VCC, Ray prescribed him 1500 mg of Keppra, twice daily. When Plaintiff began taking the 1500 mg twice daily, he began experiencing severe headaches, slurred speech, blurred vision, sluggishness, and clumsiness. Plaintiff was scheduled for a follow- up with the neurologist and submitted sick call slips and grievances complaining of his symptoms until September 2018. Plaintiff was seen by the outside neurologist who found that Ray had been giving Plaintiff an incorrect dose of Keppra. The neurologist prescribed 750 mg of Keppra, twice daily. Plaintiff alleges that he continues to suffer repercussions from being over medicated. Plaintiff alleges that as of May 21, 2019, he has not been taken to see an outside neurologist for a follow-up visit.

         Plaintiff alleges deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. For relief, Plaintiff seeks declaratory relief as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

         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 apro 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 Amended 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 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 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 may 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.3d236, 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.

         Under the pleading regime established by Twombly and Iqbal, 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) when there are well-pleaded factual allegations, assume their veracity and determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief. See Connelly v. Lane Const. Corp.,809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 2016); see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). Deciding ...


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