Diaz v. Rivera
MEMORANDUM - Signed by Judge Gregory M. Sleet on 7/5/12. (rwc)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
) Civ. Action No. 11-1071-GMS
The plaintiff, Aval on Diaz ("Diaz"), an inmate at the Howard R. Young Correctional
Center, Wilmington, Delaware, filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (D.I. 2.) He
appears prose and was granted permission to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915. (D.I. 4.) The court reviewed and screened the complaint, dismissed the complaint for
failure to state a claim relief upon which relief may be granted and gave Diaz leave to amend.
(D.I. 8, 9.)
Diaz filed this complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that the defendant Plaza
Rivera ("Rivera"), came up behind him, hit him in the head and face, gave him a bloody nose,
and hit him in the back and side. As a result, Diaz had blurry vision and blood in his urine for a
few days. He seeks compensatory damages. (D.I. 2.) The amended complaint identifies Rivera
as an inmate housed at the HRYCI.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
This court must dismiss, at the earliest practicable time, certain in forma pauperis and
prisoner actions that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim, or seek monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. See 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 prose plaintiff. Phillips v. County ofAllegheny, 515 F.3d 224,229 (3d Cir. 2008);
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007). Because Diaz proceeds prose, 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
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)(l), 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 at 32728; Wilson v. Rackmill, 878 F.2d 772, 774 (3d Cir. 1989); see, e.g., 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)(l) is identical to the legal standard used when ruling on
12(b)(6) motions. 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 of28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A, the court
must grant Diaz leave to amend his complaint unless amendment would be inequitable or futile.
See Grayson v. Mayview State Hasp., 293 F.3d 103, 114 (3d Cir. 2002).
A well-pleaded complaint must contain more than mere labels and conclusions. See
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009); Bell At!. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). The
assumption of truth is inapplicable to legal conclusions or to "[t]hreadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action supported by mere conclusory statements." Jqbal129 S.Ct. at
1949. When determining whether dismissal is appropriate, the court conducts a two-part
analysis. Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009). First, the factual and
legal elements of a claim are separated. !d. The court must accept all of the complaint's wellpleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions. !d. at 210-11. Second, the court
must determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that Diaz has a
"plausible claim for relief." 1 !d. at 211. In other words, the complaint must do more than allege
Diaz's entitlement to relief; rather it must "show" such an entitlement with its facts. !d.
"[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than a mere possibility of
misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not shown - that the pleader is entitled to
relief." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2)).
A claim is facially plausible when its factual content allows the court to draw a
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). The plausibility standard "asks for more than a sheer
possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." !d. "Where a complaint pleads facts that are
'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it 'stops short of the line between possibility and
plausibility of' entitlement to relief."' !d.
To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege "the violation of a right
secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States and must show that the alleged
deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law." West v. Atkins, 487 U.S.
42, 48 (1988) (citing Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535 (1981), overruled in part on other
grounds by Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327,330-31 (1986)). To act under "color of state law"
a defendant must be "clothed with the authority of state law." West, 487 U.S. at 49. Rivera is an
inmate at the HRYCI. Quite simply, this defendant is not "clothed with the authority of state
law." See Reichley v. Pennsylvania Dep 't ofAgric., 427 F.3d 236, 244-45 (3d Cir. 2005); Biener
v. Calia, 361 F.3d 206, 216-17 (3d Cir. 2004).
Diaz' s § 1983 claim is raised against a non-state actor, it rests on an "inarguable legal
conclusion" and is, therefore, frivolous. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 326.
For the above reasons, the court will dismiss the amended complaint as frivolous
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Amendment would be futile. See Alston v. Parker, 363
F.3d 229 (3d Cir. 2004); Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d at 111; Borelli v. City of
Reading, 532 F.2d 950,951-52 (3d Cir. 1976).
An appropriate order will be entered.
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