Tucker v. Carlin et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION - Signed by Judge Leonard P. Stark on 2/27/17. (rwc)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
Civ. No. 16-3S2-LPS
FRANCIS CARLIN, et al.,
Lynell B. Tucker, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna, Delaware, Pro Se Plaintiff.
February 27, 2017
Plaintiff Lynell B. Tucker ("Plaintiff') filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.c. § 1983, alleging
violations of his constitutional rights.! (OJ. 6) Plaintiff is incarcerated at the James 1'. Vaughn
Correctional Center (''VCC'') in Smyrna, Delaware. He appears pro se and has been granted leave to
proceed informa pauperis. (OJ. 8) Plaintiff filed a motion for injunctive relief and a request for
counsel when he commenced this action. (O.r. 1, 2)
recently filed a combined motion for an
expedited review or request for counsel and request for injunctive relief. (OJ. 17) The Court
proceeds to review and screen the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.c. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A(a).
Plaintiff suffers from mental health issues. He alleges that upon his transfer to the VCC, he
was prescribed non-psychotropic medication, was placed in solitary confinement despite his
extensive mental health history, and his medications were discontinued. He also alleges that
Defendant Dr. John ("Dr. Doe") prescribed medication to which he was allergic, despite his medical
records noting the allergy. Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Doe prescribed the medication without
understanding or comprehending that the medication he had taken in the past had caused the
allergic reaction. He alleges that he was given the medication, suffered a reaction which resulted in
priapism, and was left in a medical emergency situation for more than 17 hours before receiving
Medical was informed of Plaintiffs condition by correctional officers. Plaintiff was
ultimately seen by medical personnel and by Defendant nurse practitioner Bernard Addogoh
lPursuant to 42 U.S.c. § 1983, 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. See
West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
when he came on shift
before Defendant was taken to the emergency room.
Plaintiff alleges that he is not provided appropriate mental health treatment. He seeks injunctive
relief as well as compensatory and punitive damages.
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 Cit. 2013); see also 28 U.s.C § 1915(e)(2) (injorma
pauperis actions); 28 U.S.C § 1915A (actions in which prisoner seeks redress from 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 ifAllegherty, 515 F.3d 224, 229 (3d Cit. 2008);
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007). Because Plaintiff proceeds pro se, 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, 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.
W'i'jliams, 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 at 327-28; see also Wi/son
v. Mckmill, 878 F.2d 772, 774 (3d Cit. 1989); Deutsch v. United States, 67 F.3d 1080, 1091-92 (3d
Cit. 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 Rule
12(b)(6) motions. See Tourscherv.lvlcCuifough, 184 F.3d 236, 240 (3d Cit. 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
plaintiffleave to amend his complaint, unless amendment would be inequitable or futile. See Grcryson
v. Mqyview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 114 (3d Cit. 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 entidement to relief." BelIAt!. Corp. v. Twomb!y, 550
(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 if. Abington Mem'l Hosp., 765 F.3d 236, 241 (3d Cit. 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 William.r v. BASF Catalysts llC, 765 F.3d 306,
315 (3d Cit. 2014) (citingAshcroftv. 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
rif Shel~y, _U.S._, 135 S.Ct. 346,347 (2014).
A complaint may not dismissed for
imperfect statements of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted. See zd. at 346.
Under the pleading regime established by Twombfy 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, the
court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausihly give rise to an
entitlement to relief. See ConnellY v. Lane Const. Cop., 809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 2016). Elements are
sufficiently alleged when the facts in the complaint "show" that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. See
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 8 (a) (2)). Deciding whether a claim is plausihle will be a
"context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and
common sense." Id.
Francis Carlin ("Carlin"), the statewide director of mental health for Connections, and Kathy
D. McKay ("McKay"), the director of Connections, CSP are named as defendants, apparently based
upon their supervisory positions. As is well-established, supervisory liahility cannot he imposed
under § 1983 on a respondeat superior theory.2 See Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662; Monell v. Department ojSocial
Seroices, 436 U.S. 658 (1978); RiZZo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976). "'A[n individual government]
defendant in a civil rights action must have personal involvement in the alleged wrongdoing; liability
cannot be predicated solely on the operation of respondeat superior.'" Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d
2005) (quoting Rode v. Dellarciprete, 845 F.2d 1195, 1207 (3d Cir. 1988)). Purpose
rather than knowledge is required to impose liability on an official charged with violations arising
2In Iqbal, the plaintiff alleged supervisory officials violated his rights because one official was
the "principal architect" of the policy, and another was "implemental" in adoption and execution of
the policy. See 556 U.S. at 669. The Supreme Court found the allegations facially insufficient. See id.
at 676 (quoting Robertson v. Sichel, 127 U.S. 507, 515-16 (1888), for proposition that "[a] puhlic officer
or agent is not responsihle for the misfeasances or position wrongs, or for the nonfeasances, or
negligences, or omissions of duty, of the subagents or servants or other persons properly employed
by or under him, in the discharge of his official duties").
from his or her superintendent responsibilities. 3 Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677. "Absent vicarious liability,
each Government official, his or her tide notwithstanding, is only liable for his or her own
In the present case, Plaintiff does not associate any of his allegations with Carlin or McI
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