Guilfoil v. Correct Care Solutions et al
MEMORANDUM. Signed by Judge Gregory M. Sleet on 9/15/2016. (cna)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELA WARE
DALE A. GUILFOIL,
) Civ. Action No. 16-363-GMS
CORRECT CARE SOLUTIONS, et aI.,
The plaintiff, Dale A. Guilfoil ("Guilfoil"), an inmate at the James T. Vaughn
Correctional Center ("VCC"), Smyrna, Delaware, filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.c.
§ 1983 1 alleging deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. (OJ. 3.) He appears pro se
and was granted permission to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.c. § 1915.
Guilfoil began his incarceration on July 6, 2014. He has a spinal cord stimulator
implanted in his lower back and uses a cane. When he was first seen at Sussex Correctional
Institution ("SCI"), he informed the nurse about the stimulator, that he uses a cane, and was on a
pain management regimen. On July 14, 2014, Guilfoil advised a physician that he needed to
charge the battery of the stimulator and, on July 22, 2014, told a physician that he needed a
stimulator charger. Guilfoil was told it was his responsibility to charge the battery and that he
needed approval from security. Guilfoil's public defender stepped in to assist him with the issue.
On August 5, 2014, Guilfoil was called to the medical office to use a borrowed charger, but the
lWhen 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).
battery would not take a charge. In the meantime, Guilfoil was ordered medication and received
it initially, but it stopped in late July 2014. It appears he now receives it sporadically.
Guilfoil submitted numerous grievances regarding replacement of the battery He was
told he would receive medication without interruption while at SCI (which did not happen), but
would not receive surgery to replace the battery. He wants the court to decide who is responsible
for paying for the surgery that is required to change the battery in the spinal cord stimulator. He
also seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
Named as defendants are Correct Care Solutions ("CCS"), the Delaware Department of
Correction ("DOC"), and Connections ("Connections"). Guilfoil named both CCS and
Connections because he was told that CCS was leaving and that Connections would be taking
over as the medical services provider.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
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 Cir. 2013); see also 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) (injormapauperis 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. Phillips v. County ofAllegheny,
515 F.3d 224, 229 (3d Cir. 2008); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007). Because Guilfoil
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 v. Pardus, 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.
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 327
28; 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)(1) is identical to the legal standard used when ruling on Rule
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 Guilfoil 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).
A well-pleaded complaint must contain more than mere labels and conclusions. See
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). A
plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to show that a claim has substantive plausibility. See
Johnson v. City o/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
Under 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, the court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly
give rise to an entitlement to relief. Connelly v. Lane Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir.
2016) (internal citations and quotations omitted). Elements are sufficiently alleged when the
facts in the complaint "show" that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679
(quoting 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
The DOC, an agency of the State of Delaware, is named as a defendant. "Absent a state's
consent, the Eleventh Amendment bars a civil rights suit in federal court that names the state as a
defendant." Laskaris v. Thornburgh, 661 F.2d 23, 25 (3d Cir. 1981) (citing Alabama v. Pugh,
438 U.S. 781 (1978)). The State of Delaware has not waived its sovereign immunity under the
Eleventh Amendment. See Ospina v. Department o/Corr., 749 F. Supp. 572, 579 (D. Del.
1991). Hence, as an agency of the State of Delaware, the DOC is entitled to immunity under the
Guilfoil's claim against the DOC has no arguable basis in law or in fact inasmuch as it is
immune from suit. Therefore, it will be dismissed as a defendant pursuant to 28 U.S.c.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(iii) and 28 U.S.c. § 1915A(b)(2).
Medical Service Provider
The complaint names CCS as a defendant because Guilfoil was not sure when it would be
replaced by Connections. A civil rights complaint must state the conduct, time, place, and
persons responsible for the alleged civil rights violations. Evancho v. Fisher, 423 FJd 347, 353
(3d Cir. 2005) (citing Boykins v. Ambridge Area Sch. Dist., 621 F.2d 75, 80 (3d Cir. 1980); Hall
v. Pennsylvania State Police, 570 F.2d 86, 89 (3d Cir. 1978)). The court takes judicial notice
that Connections took over general healthcare provider responsibilities for Delaware's inmate
population on July 1,2014 and that the general healthcare contract with CCS expired on June 30,
2014. See http://doc.delaware.gov/news/pdfsI14press0625.pdf(Sept. 10,2016). The court takes
further judicial notice that the transition of services took place during June 2014 when
Connections and CCS worked together. See id.
CCS was not the medical care service provider during the relevant time-frame as alleged
in the complaint. Therefore, the allegations against it are frivolous and will be dismissed
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and § 1915A(b)(1).
For the above reasons, the court will: (1) dismiss Correct Care Solutions and the
Delaware Department of Correction as defendants based upon immunity from suit and legally
frivolous claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and (iii) and § 1915A(b)(1) and (2);
and (2) allow the plaintiff to proceed against Connections on the medical needs claim.
An appropriate order will be entered.
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