United States District Court, D. Delaware
Harry Tait, II, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna,
Delaware, Pro Se Plaintiff.
NOREIKA, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
John Harry Tait, II (“Plaintiff), 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). He appears pro se and
has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis.
(D.I. 5). The Court dismissed the original complaint and gave
Plaintiff leave to amend. (D.I. 7, D.I. 8). The Court
proceeds to review and screen the Amended Complaint matter
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b) and §
1915A(a). (D.I. 9).
March 25, 2017, Plaintiff was arrested for an alleged drug
transaction. (D.I. 9 at 5). He alleges that during the
arrest, he was physically assaulted by Defendants New Castle
County Detective Donald Fisher (“Fisher”) and New
Castle County police officer Feliciano
(“Feliciano”). (Id.). Plaintiff alleges
that he was tased by Defendant Officer Ryan. (Id. at
7). Finally, Plaintiff alleges Defendants Sergeant Herring
(“Herring”) and Detective Potter
(“Potter”) either observed or supervised the
assault and then engaged in the assault. (Id. at 6).
Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
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, 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
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).
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).
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.3d 236, 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.
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 whether a claim is plausible will be a
“context-specific task that requires the reviewing
court to draw on its judicial experience and common