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Jones v. Thompson

United States District Court, D. Delaware

October 8, 2019

MATTHEW JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
DENNISA THOMPSON, et al., Defendants.

          Matthew Jones, Greenwood, Delaware. Pro Se Plaintiff.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Matthew Jones, who appears pro se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, filed this action on May 13, 2019. (D.I. 2). He asserts jurisdiction by reason of a federal question. The Court proceeds to review and screen the Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges that on November 1, 2017, the Mobile Crisis Intervention team arrived at his house in response to a Facebook post Plaintiff had made earlier in the evening. (D.I. 2 at 2). The Facebook post, as described in the Complaint, was delusional. The team determined that Plaintiff was schizophrenic, removed him from his home, placed him in confinement, and medicated him with antipsychotic medications. (Id.).

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Recovery Innovations is a service of the State of Delaware. (Id. at 1). He alleges that Defendant Denissa Thompson of Recovery Innovations: (1) censored his First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of the press; (2) misdiagnosed him in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1035; (3) caused assault and battery when he was medicated unnecessarily for a disease he does not have; and (4) risked harm on his mother's life by removing Plaintiff (his mother's caregiver) from his mother's life. (Id. at 2-3). The Complaint describes schizophrenia in great detail. (Id. at 3-6).

         Plaintiff indicates that he raises his claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2674, as well as 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (D.I. 2 at 7). He also refers to immunity under Delaware's County and Municipal Tort Claims Act, 10 Del. C. § 4011 (a). Plaintiff alleges that as a direct and proximate result of the negligent conduct of Thomson, he has suffered serious bodily injury. He sees two million dollars in compensatory damages.

         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) 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). 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).

         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), 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).

         The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) 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, 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 Cir. 2002).

         Plaintiff proceeds pro se and, therefore, 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 v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Under Rule 12(b)(6), a motion to dismiss may be granted 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.'" Daw's v. Ablngton Mem'l Hosp., 765 F.3d 236, 241 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). In addition, 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, however, for imperfect statements of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted. See Id. at 10.

         When reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, a court should follow a three-step process: (1) consider the elements necessary to state a claim; (2) identify allegations that are merely conclusions are therefore are not well-pleaded factual allegations; and (3) accept any well-pleaded factual allegations as true and determine whether they plausibly state a claim. See Connelly v. Lane Constr. Corp.,809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 2016); Williams v. BASF Catalysts LLC,765 F.3d 306, 315 (3d Cir. 2014). Deciding whether a claim is plausible ...


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