Jones v. Crisis Intervention Services et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION regarding Motion to Dismiss (D.I. 18 ). Motion for Summary Judgment (D.I. 23 ), Motion to Quash (D.I. 26 ), and Motion to Amend (D.I. 34 ). Signed by Judge Richard G. Andrews on 3/6/2017. (nms)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
MATTHEW N. JONES,
Civ. No. 16-005-RGA
CRISIS INTERVENTION SERVICES,
Matthew N. Jones, Greenwood, Delaware. Pro Se Plaintiff.
Michael F. McTaggart, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department of Justice,
Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for Defendants.
Plaintiff Matthew N. Jones, who appears prose, filed this action on January 7,
2016, pursuant to 42U.S.C.§1983. 1 (D.I. 1). 2 Defendants Crisis Intervention Services
and Delaware State Police have filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) and a motion to quash subpoenas. (D.I. 18, 26). Plaintiff has
filed a motion for summary judgment and a motion to amend the complaint. (D.I. 23,
34). Briefing on the matters is complete.
The Complaint alleges that on December 12, 2015, Crisis Intervention workers
and Delaware State Police arrived at Plaintiff's home, handcuffed him, and transported
him to the Crisis Intervention Center in Ellendale, Delaware. From there, Plaintiff was
transported to the Rockford Center. Plaintiff alleges that Crisis Intervention Center
committed felonies by accepting testimony, getting instructions, and taking orders from
his mother, who was present at the time. He also alleges that Crisis Intervention Center
"feloniously" diagnosed him with schizophrenia, which is a disease he "cannot possibly
have." 3 (Id. at p.6). The Complaint alleges that Plaintiff was taken away for lengths of
When bringing a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must allege that some person has
deprived him of a federal right, and that the person who caused the deprivation acted
under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
Plaintiff has filed several lawsuits raising claims related to his mental health.
See Jones v. Town of Georgetown, Civ. No. 15-201-RGA (D. Del.), filed March 3, 2015;
Jones v. Delaware Bd. of Med. Licensure and Discipline, Civ. No. 15-203-RGA, (D.
Del.), filed Mar. 3, 2015; Jones v. Mirza, Civ. No. 15-1017-RGA (D. Del.), filed Nov. 4,
2015; and Jones v. Crisis Intervention Services, Civ. No. 16-410-RGA (D. Del.), filed
June 6, 2016.
Plaintiff submitted with his complaint various exhibits, including Exhibit 12, a
"competency to stand trial evaluation" from 2013, which concludes that Plaintiff has "a
significant past history of mental illness that includes a diagnosis of Paranoid
time and forced to ingest drugs that made him ill and caused allergic reactions. Plaintiff
alleges attempted murder, wrongful imprisonment, persecution, and seeks
$175,000,000 in damages. (Id. at pp. 6-7). Plaintiff amended the Complaint to clarify
that he does not hold his mother responsible for her actions and blames Defendants for
ignoring his "injuries, illnesses, and wounds." (D.I. 11 at p.1 ).
Defendants move for dismissal pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6)
on the grounds that this Court lacks jurisdiction, the Defendants are immune from suit,
many of the claims are time-barred, and the Complaint fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted. (D.I. 18). Plaintiff opposes the motion to dismiss and moves for
summary judgment, arguing, basically, that he does not have schizophrenia. (D.I. 23).
Plaintiff also seeks to amend and provides a copy of the proposed amended complaint.
(D.I. 34). Finally, Defendants move to quash subpoenas Plaintiff served upon two
physicians. (D.I. 26).
MOTION TO DISMISS
Standards of Law
Plaintiff proceeds pro se and, therefore, his pleadings are 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. 89, 94 (2007).
Rule 12(b)( 1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits the dismissal of an
action for "lack of subject matter jurisdiction." A Rule 12(b)(1) motion may be treated as
either a facial or factual challenge to the court's subject matter jurisdiction. See
Schizophrenia." (D.I. 1-12 at p.6).
Constitution Party v. Aichele, 757 F.3d 347, 357-58 (3d Cir. 2014). "In reviewing a
facial attack, 'the court must only consider the allegations of the complaint and
documents referenced therein and attached thereto, in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff."' Id. at 358 (quoting In re Schering Plough Corp., 678 F.3d 235, 243 (3d Cir.
2012)). In reviewing a factual attack, the court may consider evidence outside the
pleadings. Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir.
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 At/. 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'I 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,
_U.S._, 135 S.Ct. 346, 347 (2014). A complaint may not dismissed, however, for
imperfect statements of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted. See id. at 346.
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 and 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 will be a "context-specific task that requires the reviewing
court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 679 (2009).
Plaintiff seeks recovery from Defendants who are immune from suit.
The "State of Delaware Department of Health and Social Services ('DHSS') is a
State agency with the mission of promoting the health and well-being of vulnerable
populations within the State." Doctors Pathology Servs. P.A. v. State Div. of Pub.
Health, Dep't of Health & Soc. Servs., 2009 WL 4043299, at *1 (Del. Ch. Nov. 20,
2009). DHSS' Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health operates Defendant
Crisis Intervention Services, located throughout the State of Delaware, including
Ellendale, the location referred to in this action. See http://dhss.delaware.gov/dsamh/
crisis_intervention.html (Mar. 2, 2017). Thus, Crisis Intervention Services is an agency
of the State of Delaware. In addition, the Delaware State Police is an agency of the
State of Delaware. See Janowksi v. Division of State Police Dep't of Safety &
Homeland Sec., 2009 WL 537051, at *2 (Del. Super. Feb. 27, 2009).
The Eleventh Amendment of the United States Constitution protects an
unconsenting state or state agency from a suit brought in federal court by one of its own
citizens, regardless of the relief sought. See Seminole Tribe of Fla. v. Florida, 517 U.S.
44, 54 (1996); Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984);
Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651 (1974). Accordingly, Defendants are immune from
suit under the Eleventh Amendment. See, e.g., State of Delaware Dep't of Health and
Social Services v. Sheppard, 864 A.2d 929 (Del. 2004) (table) (sovereign immunity not
waived in case against State by patient who was in the care of the State psychiatric
facility); Lovett v. Pietlock, 2011 WL 2086642, at *4 (Del. Super. Ct. Apr. 26, 2011 ),
aff'd, 32 A.3d 988 (Del. 2011) (action may not be maintained because Delaware State
Police holds sovereign immunity as agency of the State and because Delaware has not
In addition, to state a viable§ 1983 claim, a plaintiff must allege facts showing a
deprivation of a constitutional right, privilege or immunity by a person acting under color
of state law. See Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 330 (1986). The claims against
Defendants are barred by Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 69
(1989), which holds "that neither states nor state officials sued in their official capacities
for money damages are 'persons' within the meaning of§ 1983." Evancho v. Fisher,
423 F.3d 347, 350 (3d Cir. 2005).
Defendants are immune from suit, and thus the Complaint fails to state a claim
upon relief may be granted against them. Accordingly, the Court will grant Defendants'
motion to dismiss.
MOTION TO AMEND
Standards of Law
Rule 15(a)(2) requires that the Court "freely give leave [to amend] when justice
so requires." Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). The Third Circuit has adopted a liberal approach
to the amendment of pleadings to ensure that "a particular claim will be decided on the
merits rather than on technicalities." Dole v. Arco Chem. Co., 921 F.2d 484, 486-87 (3d
Cir. 1990). Amendment, however, is not automatic. See Dover Steel Co., Inc. v.
Hartford Accident & lndem., 151 F.R.D. 570, 574 (E.D. Pa. 1993). Leave to amend
should be granted absent a showing of "undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the
part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously
allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of the allowance of the
amendment, futility of amendment, etc." Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962).
Futility of amendment occurs when the complaint, as amended, does not state a claim
upon which relief can be granted. See In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114
F.3d 1410, 1434 (3d Cir. 1997). If the proposed amendment "is frivolous or advances a
claim or defense that is legally insufficient on its face, the court may deny leave to
amend." Harrison Beverage Co. v. Dribeck Importers, Inc., 133 F.R.D. 463, 468 (D.N.J.
1990). However, "the pleading philosophy of the Rules counsels in favor of liberally
permitting amendments to a complaint." CMR D.N. Corp. v. City of Phi/a., 703 F.3d
612, 629 (3d Cir. 2013).
After Plaintiff filed his motion for summary judgment, he filed a motion to amend
the Complaint and provided the Court with a proposed amended complaint. (D.I. 34).
Defendants oppose. (D.I. 38). The proposed amended complaint states that the basis
of jurisdiction is the United States Government as a defendant (instead of a federal
question), raises the proposed claims pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1035, false statements
relating to health care (instead of 42 U.S.C. § 1983), and provides the dates of
occurrence as August 2015 to January 2016 (instead of December 11-12, 2015). The
facts in the original Complaint are identical to the facts in the proposed amended
complaint. (Compare D.I. 1 at pp.4-6 to D.I. 34 at Ex. 1 at pp.4-6).
Upon review of the proposed amended complaint, the Court finds futility of
amendment. The proposed amended complaint alleges jurisdiction by reason of a
"U.S. Government Defendant," but no such defendant has been named. While the
Complaint invokes a federal criminal statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1035, false statements
relating to health care matters, this statute does not serve to vest the Court with
jurisdiction, and Plaintiff lacks standing to proceed under this statute. See Allen v.
Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, 270 F. App'x 149, 150 (3d Cir. 2008); see
United States v. Friedland, 83 F .3d 1531 , 1539 (3d Cir. 1996) ("[T]he United States
Attorney is responsible for the prosecution of all criminal cases within his or her
district."). The decision whether to prosecute, and which criminal charges to bring,
generally rests with the prosecutor. See United States v. Batchelder, 442 U.S. 114, 124
(1979). Finally, the facts in the proposed amended complaint do not begin to suggest a
plausible factual basis to find a violation of § 1035. Therefore, the Court will deny
Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend based upon futility of amendment. There is no
possibility that further attempts to amend the complaint will result in a viable complaint
against Crisis Intervention Services, the Delaware State Police, or the State of
Delaware. Thus, further leave to amend will be denied as futile.
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
The Court will dismiss Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment (D.I. 23) as moot.
Defendants are immune from suit.
MOTION TO QUASH SUBPOENAS
Plaintiff served subpoenas upon two physicians seeking a "gender identity
examination" of Plaintiff's mother, who is not a party to this action. (See D.I. 27, 28).
Defendants move to quash the subpoenas pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(a)(1 )(D) on
the grounds that Rule 45 only permits a party to issue a subpoena for the production of
records and tangible items, the subpoenas violated the rights of Plaintiffs mother, and
they seek irrelevant information. (D.I. 26). Plaintiff did not file anything in opposition to
Generally, a motion to quash a third-party subpoena must be brought by the third
party itself because "a party does not have standing to quash a subpoena served on a
third party." First Seaford Sur. v. Durkin & Devries Ins. Agency, 918 F. Supp. 2d 362,
382 (E.D. Pa. 2013). "An exception to this rule permits a party to move to quash when
it claims 'some "personal right or privilege in respect to the subject matter of a
subpoena duces tecum directed to a nonparty.""' Id. (quoting Davis v. General Accident
Ins. Co., 1999 WL 228944, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 15, 1999)). Defendants advance no
such personal right or privilege. Hence, they lack standing to challenge the
subpoenas. Thus, were the case going forward, the Court would need to deny
Defendants' motion. As the case is not going forward, however, the issue is moot, and
the motions to quash will be dismissed, as the subpoenas are unenforceable.
For the above reasons, the Court will: (1) grant Defendants' motion to dismiss
(D.I. 18); (2) dismiss Plaintiffs motion for summary judgment (D.I. 23) as moot;
(3) dismiss Defendants' motion to quash subpoenas (D.I. 26) as moot; and (4) deny
Plaintiffs motion for leave to amend. (D.I. 34). Amendment is futile.
An appropriate order will be entered.
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