Skinner v. James T. Vaughn Correctional Center et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Leonard P. Stark on 8/15/2017. (fms)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
EDWARD L. SKINNER,
Civ. No. 17-589-LPS
JAMES T. VAUGHN CORRECTIONAL
CENTER, et al.,
Edward L. Skinner, Wilmington, Delaware, Pro Se Plaintiff.
August 15, 2017
Plaintiff Edward L. Skinner ("Plaintiff') filed this action on May 22, 2017, pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. 1 (D.I. 2) He appears prose and has been granted leave to proceed infarma pa11peris.
(D.I. 4) The Court proceeds to review and screen the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
Plaintiff, who is no longer incarcerated, was an inmate at the James T. Vaughn Correctional
Center in Smyrna, Delaware, when, .on April 5, 2015, he passed out, hit his head, and lost
consciousness. When he regained consciousness he was unable to move. Plaintiff was taken to the
infirmary. He alleges that he was there for two weeks without proper medical care and was never
taken to an emergency room or to an outside medical facility. He was later diagnosed as having had
a stroke. Three weeks later he was transferred to general population, even though he was paralyzed
on the left side and in a wheelchair. He relied upon other inmates to assist him with activities of
daily living. On an unknown date, he was transferred back to the infirmary. He seeks compensatory
damages and injunctive relief.
A federal court may properly dismiss an action s11a sponte under the screening provisions of
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(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) (infarma pa11peris
actions). The Court must accept all factual allegations in a complaint as true and take them in the
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. See
West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
light most favorable to a prose plaintiff. See Phillips v. County ofAlleghef!J, 515 F.3d 224, 229 (3d Cir.
2008); E1ickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007). Because Plaintiff proceeds prose, her pleading is
liberally construed and her 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.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), 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 Wilson v. &ckmill, 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).
The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is identical to the legal standard used when deciding Rule 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, the Court must grant a plaintiff leave to amend her
complaint unless amendment would be inequitable or futile. See Grayson v. Mayview State Ho.ip., 293
F.3d 103, 114 (3d Cir. 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 entitlement to relief." BellAtL Cotp. v. Twombfy, 550
U.S. 544, 558 (2007). While "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 act.ion." 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 Catafysts LLC, 765 F.3d 306,
315 (3d Cir. 2014) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) and Twombfy, 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, _U.S._, 135 S.Ct. 346, 347 (2014). A complaint may not dismissed for
imperfect statements of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted. Scc id. at 346.
Under the pleading regime established by T1vombfy 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. See Connelfy 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. S cc
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 com1: to draw on its judicial experience and
common sense." Id.
Plaintiff's claims are time-barred. For purposes of the statute of limitations, § 1983 claims
are characterized as personal injury act.ions. See Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 275 (1985). In
Delaware,§ 1983 claims are subject to a two-year limitations period. See 10 Del. C. § 8119;Johnson v.
Cullen, 925 F. Supp. 244, 248 (D. Del. 1996). Sect.ion 1983 claims accrue "when the plaintiff knew
or should have known of the injury upon which [his] action is based." Sameric Cotp. v. Ci(Y of
Philadelphia, 142 F.3d 582, 599 (3d Cir. 1998).
Statute of limitations is an affirmative defense that generally must be raised by the defendant,
and it is waived if not properly raised. See Benak ex rel. Alliance Premier Growth Fund v. Alliance Capital
Mgmt. LP., 435 F.3d 396, 400 n.14 (3d Cir. 2006); Fassettv. Delta Kappa Epsilon, 807 F.2d 1150, 1167
(3d Cir. 1986). Still, "where the statute of limitations defense is obvious from the face of the
complaint and no development of the factual record is required to determine whether dismissal is
appropriate, sua sponte dismissal under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 is permissible." Davis v. Gauf?y, 408 F. App'x
524, 526 (3d Cir. Nov. 30, 2010) (quoting Fogle v. Pierson, 435 F.3d 1252, 1258 (10th Cir. 2006)).
Plaintiff complains of an April 5, 2015 occurrence, followed by two weeks of lack of proper
medical care (to approximately April 29, 2015), followed by his return to general population three
weeks later (to approximately May 10, 2015). He filed his Complaint on May 22, 2017. Plaintiff is
not presently incarcerated and has not been since August 3, 2016. (See D.l. 1 at 2) Therefore, the
exceptions to timing requirements as set forth in the "prison mailbox rule" are inapplicable. See
Kareem v. F.D.I.C, 482 F. App'x 594, 595 (D.C. Cir. Sept. 28, 2012) (citing McNeil v. United States, 508
U.S. 106, 113 (1993) and Hottston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266 (1988)). See also Fed. R. Civ. P. 5(d)(2) (a
paper is filed by "delivering it" to the Clerk). Hence, it is evident from the face of the Complaint
that Plaintiffs claims, all of which accrued prior to May 22. 2017, are barred by the two-year
ln the Complaint, Plaintiff states that he "was granted a 90 day extension on March 23,
2017 filed by Grady & Hampton, Attorneys at Law, due to the statutes of limitation (2 years), which
would end June 2017," noting that the incident occurred on April 5, 2015. Nothing on the face of
the Complaint and no other filings indicate that the limitation period has been tolled.
Because Plaintiffs allegations are time-barred, the Court will dismiss the Complaint as legally
as frivolous pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i).
For the above reasons, the Court will dismiss the Complaint as legally frivolous pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i). The Court finds amendment futile.
An appropriate Order follows.
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